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Cleaning out the Clutter: When it’s Time to Downsize

Sports memorabilia is a huge industry with plenty of variety.  While millions of us may enjoy it, the temptation is to save or collect a little bit of everything.  After a fw years, you come to one conclusion.

You’ve got a lot of stuff.

Many dabble in collecting but some of us are more enthusiastic than others.

If you warn people to stay out of your spare bedroom because they can get lost in the maze created from stacks of baseball card albums, you may have too much stuff. If you feel threatened when children are near the room that houses your bobble head collection, you may have too much stuff. If you lay awake at night wondering how you can afford a 1955 World Series program to fill in the last free space on your living room wall, you may have too much stuff.

Someday your collection will be threatened.  For many, it happens between the ages of 25 and 30. Perhaps your parents need your old room back. Maybe your girlfriend or wife has her eye on that spare bedroom you have crammed full of game worn jerseys and shoes. You can either carve down your collection to a manageable size or absolutely refuse to part with your treasure.

Refusing will probably lead to a lonely life so it is time to make some tough choices.

The  first thing you should do is to itemize everything. This will give you a good idea what you are dealing with. Now divide up the list into three columns. One column is for stuff you refuse to part with, one column is for stuff you can purge and one column is for stuff you might keep. When you are done, purge at least half of that last column and don’t look back.

How do you make decisions about what fits into what category?  One way is to pick out things you haven’t looked at in two years or more.  If you don’t care about them enough to give them some love, you can probably live without them.

Decide how you want your collection to display.  Pick out your favorite items or sets and make sure you have space for them.  The rest of the stuff should go on your list of possible downsizing candidates.

If you have a player or team you’ve been collecting but aren’t that passionate about, consider waiting until the spotlight strikes (a career year or a playoff run) and strike while the iron is hot.  Moving Brett Favre items might be tougher in two or three years when he’ll (probably) be retired.  Right now?  Not that hard.  He’s still got fans in Green Bay and a new legion in Minnesota.

There are other ways to carve down your collection. The obvious one is eBay. Now that you have your list, you can check how much your items might bring at auction. While parting with your treasure will be tough, the money will make you feel better.  If a lack of funds causes you stress, this feeling can be pretty liberating.  Keep your minimum bid low.  Remember…the object of taking the time to create the listing is that you’ve decided to sell, not test the market.

Bulk deals are often favored by dealers and collector/dealers who buy at auction so if you can put together a large lot of related material, you might not get as much money for it, but it might find a committed group of buyers.  You’ll reduce your clutter quickly and the time you save might be worth what you’re losing in the long run.

You can utilize online trading forums and offer to trade off your bulkier items for more compact collectibles like star cards than will fit neatly in a box.  you can also use the buy-sell-trade forums to advertise your stuff

You can hold a garage sale and advertise ‘sports cards and memorabilia’.  There are no table fees and you’re almost guaranteed to get traffic from those flea market dealers and other bargain hunters who are anxious to look at fresh material.   Non-collectors will buy some of the stuff you can barely give away at home.

You can set up at a flea market yourself.  Fees are usually less–just pick one that has an established traffic history.

The nicest way to trim down your collection is to make people happy. Sports memorabilia makes great gifts for fans. If you have any young relatives who are getting into collecting, you could instantly become their favorite relative. Plus, since this stuff is timeless, you can dole a little out for each birthday and Christmas and never worry about shopping.

Collecting things is a normal part of life. Our brains are wired to fill in patterns. But there are times in life when we simply go too far. Being young and obsessively filling sport card collections is perfectly acceptable. But do you want to be 40, alone in your parent’s basement and surrounded by mounds of football cards? Obviously there are times in life when we must prioritize and move on. This does not mean you have to give up your Don Mattingly rookie card that was your most prized possession when you were 12.

You just have to set some limits.

About Rich Mueller

Rich is the editor and founder of Sports Collectors Daily. A broadcaster and writer for more than 30 years and a collector for even longer than that, he's usually typing something somewhere. Type him back at [email protected].

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