Is your storage unit cluttered with Mom’s polyester pantsuits from the ’70s or Dad’s cassette collection of greatest hair-band hits from the ’80s?
If so, you might be needlessly holding onto mementos of someone else’s past.
Storage units often are laden with a merry mix of outdated junk, whether it’s technological relics like “Seinfield”-era shoebox cellphones, VCR and eight-track players, Beanie Baby collections, period clothing or hopelessly homely furniture straight from Walton’s Mountain.
San Francisco, CA-based Bekka Fink, known as the Rockstar Organizer, uses feng shui, the ancient art of creating spatial harmony, to help clients resolve the feelings and uncouple the energy from the keepsakes, castoffs and OPS (other people’s stuff) that are impeding their spiritual progress.
“Feng shui believes that clutter is literally weight on you — weight on your body, weight on your health,” she said. “Removing it is like clearing weeds out of your garden.”
Ready to clear some weeds out of your storage unit? Here are the six best places to start.
1. Vintage Clothing
“Sometimes people hang onto things so long that they really no longer have any value for anybody else,” said Terri Stephens, a professional organizer in Atlanta, GA. “People feel such a tremendous amount of angst and sometimes guilt, as if they’re throwing the person away.”
Solution: “If it’s a large enough collection, consign it,” said Amy Trager, a professional organizer in Chicago, IL. “If not, sell the items yourself on eBay or Craigslist, or donate them to a theater group or fashion school.”
If you have kids, you likely have mounds of toys that they’ve outgrown.
Solution: Keep a few of the more novel or interesting toys for nostalgia’s sake and donate or deep-six the rest.
“If it’s from the past 10 to 20 years and plastic to where it can be washed, donate it. But a lot of places won’t take stuffed or fabric toys anymore because of germs and bedbugs,” Trager said.
If you like it, keep it. If it’s broken or the wrong color, repaint or repair it. If not, what’s next?
Solution: “Don’t discard it without valuing it,” Trager advised. “eBay is a good place to start.”
Then take photos of the furniture and email them to your local antique shop, consignment store or estate auction agent to find a buyer.
“Mid-Century Modern stuff is very hot right now,” Fink said. “There are plenty of shops where you can easily consign it.”
Is there more than one of something? It might be part of a valuable collection.
To learn about folks who are “extreme” collectors, visit blog.sparefoot.com/7605-extreme-collectors.
Solution: If it’s authentic and vintage, it could be worth your while to list it on eBay. If it has regional or local interest, an estate seller or auctioneer might be interested.
“If you have antique sporting equipment such as skis or ice skates, a local sports shop may buy them for display,” Trager said.
5. Old Gadgets
Pre-digital film and sound technology without a means to play the movies or music is a classic waste of space.
Solution: “Convert VCRs, reel-to-reel and cassette tapes to DVDs and CDs, and store them in the cloud,” Fink said. “Then recycle them.”
Check out Costco and local vendors for digital conversion capabilities, and Best Buy and other big-box retailers to recycle your old tech equipment.
6. Family Memorabilia
“Memorabilia is the most difficult stuff to get through,” Trager said. “We find it fascinating to go through but feel guilty getting rid of it.”
Solution: Fink offers these six steps to confront the physical past.
Step 1: Enlist five to 10 people you can count on to help. “You’re going to need this support,” she said.
Step 2: Inventory and archive. “Make an inventory and take photos of everything that’s in there. For some things, this photo may be the only thing you’ll ultimately choose to hold onto,” Fink said. “Also, get rid of cardboard boxes and store everything in see-through plastic containers.”
Step 3: Set a date to begin the winnowing of memorabilia.
Step 4: Break the project into periodic sorting sessions at home. “Maybe every two weeks you’ll bring home a couple of boxes to go through,” Fink said.
Sorting at home keeps the primary goal front and center: This is the space you have to work within.
Step 5: Hire a young family member or neighbor to research the value of items of interest, and to scan photos, diplomas, newspaper articles and other hard-copy items to a digital format.
Step 6: Decide what to keep, sell, scan and shred, or to give away to family members.
Top photo courtesy of Stand Up Guys