Please don’t read this post. It will only cause your blood pressure to rise, and I don’t want to be responsible for that. But if you insist on reading, please read the whole thing before you express your horror in the comments. My example in this post (as in all my posts) is personal and the decision I made is also personal. It wasn’t an easy decision, and I totally understand why someone would choose differently.
Whew. Glad that disclaimer is over.
I’ve been working on a certain long-ignored corner in my gameroom lately. As I get a little time here and there (sometimes only 20 minutes or so), I declutter it.
Last week, I came across some plates I got a while back from my aunt. I love them, but bought the wrong size plate hangers and then never got back to putting them up.
I was re-inspired to hang them after having heard someone say how she twisted plate hangers to make them the right size. (Though, as you can see in the picture above, that didn’t work out terribly well. Twisting them makes them hang differently. Ugh.)
But if the plates are on the wall, what do I do with their boxes?
My aunt, the Ultimate Garage Sale Queen, had found the plates in their original boxes. With paperwork and everything.
I love them because they are commemorative plates of the musical Oklahoma!, which was the very first musical in which I ever had a leading role.
The original boxes were neat to see, but where should I store boxes and paperwork for things I display?
Or a better question:
If I love the plates and don’t see the display as temporary, do I even need the boxes?
No. The answer is no. I personally have no need for the boxes. The plates are on the wall.
BUT . . . don’t the boxes increase their value??
Yes. Technically, collectible items in their boxes are more valuable than the same items without original boxes.
IF my plan was to treat these plates as a collection that will one day be sold at an auction to fund my retirement, I would totally keep the boxes.
But I have no plans to part with them. They are items I love. I’m keeping them because they put a smile on my face.
And yet the value-related “What ifs?” plagued my so-easily-plaguable brain.
At the same time, I had to answer these questions:
- If I keep the boxes, where in the world will I put them?
- If I find a place to put them, how in the world will I remember where that place is??
- And . . . if I do decide to get rid of these plates, will I really want to search through the entire house looking for the boxes? Won’t that just prolong the already-difficult decluttering process.
Here’s how I solved the dilemma: I checked the value of the plates.
There is a simple, quick way to get a realistic idea of the value of items in your home. This is current, in-the-moment value that could be different in a different venue or at a different time, but it helped me make this decision.
It’s called eBay.
Go to eBay.com and search for your item. If it’s a collectible, there’s likely an exact name on the back or bottom that will help you find that exact item listed on eBay.
After you find other items just like yours, scroll down the page and click on “Completed Listings” on the left. (I put an arrow pointing to it in the image below.)
At this point, things get real.
Before I checked the box to see completed listings, I saw that people were starting some auctions at $40 for a set.
I know enough to not get excited about that. What someone wants for an item means nothing. The only thing that matters is how much people are willing to actually pay for the item.
Once I checked the completed listings (auctions that are over), I saw that most of these items hadn’t. Even for 99 cents. The only one I saw that did sell, sold for less than 2.00.
Even with boxes and paperwork and everything.
Prices in red on the “Completed Listings” page mean the item didn’t sell. Prices in green mean it did sell. See how all the prices are red??
(Note from the future: Updating this post in 2020 to say that prices of unsold items are now black)
This knowledge does not change the value of MY plates in any way. I love them just as much as I did before I checked. They still have a spot in my kitchen that (though currently totally unevenly placed) made my daughter gasp in excitement over their beauty.
But this knowledge allowed me to pitch their boxes in the trash. My “What ifs?” had been answered.
The answer was that boxes don’t add significant value to these items I don’t plan to sell anyway.
And knowing that means I don’t have to store them.
And not having to store them means I can move forward ever-so-much-more-quickly with the overall decluttering project.
Another disclaimer: If your search of completed listings on eBay produces results that you’re SURE are wrong, consult a professional about family heirlooms. It is possible that an item could be sold for more in another venue, but this method helps me make educated decisions when “Imagined Value” is the thing paralyzing my decluttering efforts.
Do you stress over keeping stuff like this?
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