More lessons learned from downsizing
I received some interesting feedback to my recent column about downsizing and thought it'd be nice to share.
"The downsizing is also due to the economy," wrote friend Megan in Summit Hill. "People just have money for the things they really need."
Megan is right. Since the Great Recession in 2008, money is tight for a lot of folks. For many, it's a good time to sell off those unwanted items and turn them into quick cash.
Apparently, many boomers are doing that, which is why the market has been flooded with antique furniture, causing the market to tank.
Boomers have inherited antiques from their parents, and boomers with children are handing down those items to the next generation. Boomers without children are looking to dispose of those items.
But the antiques business is subject to the whims of the economy. And the market is soft partly because antiques aren't a necessity. People can give up their antiques without negatively impacting quality of life. (A true antiques lover might argue that point.)
I attended an estate auction in Lehighton last weekend and had a nice talk with Elbert.
Elbert is gifted in restoring and refinishing antique furniture. He's done it for many, many years. I always admired his work. In fact, I'd purchased several pieces that Elbert had painstakingly restored - things like oak washstands and mahogany tables. But those days are gone.
"I don't do it anymore," Elbert said. He explained how the price drop of antique furniture has made it unfeasible for him to continue. It became unprofitable for Elbert to produce his fine work. He told me how he'd recently spent many hours restoring four antique chairs for resale, only to find that there was no market to sell them. Nobody wanted to pay what they were worth.
So Elbert kept them. But it was a turning point. Elbert realized he could no longer put love and devotion into furniture projects when folks apparently no longer cherish the pieces.
A few weeks ago I partially downsized and sold an old Victorian house I no longer live in. In the process, I put aside the pristine pieces Elbert had restored. Fortunately, I was able to place those items in my family homestead. I cherish Elbert's work and I told him so. But the younger generation just doesn't appreciate this sort of thing.
Another interesting comment was made by friend Christine of Tamaqua. She is curious about where to dispose of a vintage family Bible when a family has no children.
"What do you do with it," she asked.
You might send it to an auction. But bibles, even from the 1800s, don't bring strong prices at antiques sales.
You might donate it to a church - if the church wants it. But it's getting harder to dispose of "old stuff."
Christine talked about a changing world. Today's youth have new priorities.
"They're the 'me generation'," she said. For instance, many of today's young adults don't want to take care of their aging parents. They don't want to be caregivers.
"We're the last generation to do that," said Christine. And she's right. We took care of our parents. But it's a whole new world out there. The younger folks don't want to be bothered.
The most precious antiques today are Baby Boomers themselves. I hope the 'me generation' discovers their value.