Recently, while waiting in the business’ reception area, I had a conversation with a young lady who was manning the desk and phones about our RV lifestyle. Guessing, she had to be in her mid to late 20’s, single, no kids and full of life and aspiration gathering from our conversation. She seemed genuinely interested in our lifestyle.
She was asking question after question of where’s, what’s and why’s. Of course, she really didn’t have to pull it out of us because we were so eager to share our experiences. Then the age old question surfaced…
“What did you do with all your CRAP?!”
She immediately stepped back for a minute and apologized for being upfront and a bit crass especially being in a professional environment. I told her not to worry, the question comes up quite often.
So here’s what I told her…
After ordering our, ‘then’, Cyclone toyhauler, we made appointments with three local real estate brokers to see who we were going to hire to sell
our Kentucky home.
Next, we discussed our timeline. Now, this is where it gets a little squirrely. Even knowing we had much work to do, we were eager to sell immediately. In our hearts and minds, we were prepared to get an offer in as little as two weeks…well, that didn’t work out but read on…
1) CONTACT FAMILY
The first thing we did was contacted our son and his future bride. We told him “Son, anything in the house is yours, what do you want? You just have to come and get it.” However, since they both had their own households set up already, there was very little they wanted. We were okay with that. They took a small U-Haul trailer of some small furniture items, all of his childhood memoirs and toys, etc.
2) JOIN SOCIAL MEDIA YARD SALES (Facebook Groups)
We joined a couple local yard sale Facebook pages. Since I had already stopped working outside the home, it was my job to get rid of what I could. So, I started listing small pieces of furniture, knickknacks, small kitchen appliances, bedding ensembles, etc. I can’t count how many times people would insultingly lowall my asking prices. I learned quickly that I had to seriously ‘disconnect’ with this stuff because really, that’s all it was…STUFF. Slowly, small things were getting sold and our little savings account was growing.
Oh, and about that…
If any of you decide to do this, we highly encourage thorough ‘understood’ dialog with potential buyers. We learned quickly to not haggle price in public. We resorted to back-door communication via private messages. Why? Because there were some who had no interest in buying that would just haggle down a price just for the sake of doing so.
Gosh, and they didn’t even know us! Once prices were agreed on, we made an online-handshake and agreed to meet in a public place. I was the one who dictated where and what time we were to meet (i.e. police station, grocery store parking lot, fast food parking, etc.). I’d say 98% of the time, it worked flawlessly. I did have a couple who stood me up and I surely kept those in mind if there were potential future transactions.
3) SCHEDULE OWN YARD SALES
We scheduled a few yard sales; about a month apart. This is what gets us. We’ve been a military family for 30 years and we ‘thought’ that we were pruned down pretty well from all of our PCS’s. See, in the military, based on your rank, when PCS’ing, we had weight limits so each time we relocated we tried really hard to never go over that limit; otherwise, we’d have to pay huge amounts of money. That said, it was seven years since our last PCS and well, let’s just say I loved going shopping at TJMaxx, Hobby Lobby, Marshalls, Home Goods, etc. My bad habit was now punishing me to the point of tears some days.
This is when the emotion started setting in; not necessarily losing all this stuff but HOW MUCH we really had. I was disappointed in myself for letting it get this far. Oh! And let’s not EVEN get to my craft studio. *sigh*
Our first yard sale netted us about $1700 but holy moly, it didn’t even seem like a dent was taken out of it. We both said to each other, ‘yup, we’re having another yard sale in 3 weeks’. Three weeks came and gone…another $700 in the pot.
We were starting to see some progress, not only from our yard sales but also our Facebook yard sale groups. Our bank account was growing but certainly not at the same as what we’ve spent. I just had to keep the ‘big picture’ in the
back of my head.OH, funny thing is one of our yard sale attendees BOUGHT OUR HOUSE!
4) DISCONNECT FROM ‘ONCE WAS’
By the first month of our home being on the market (it was May), our home started looking like House Beautiful magazine; everything perfectly staged without clutter. Not that our home was cluttered before, just that we removed everything ‘personal’ and minimized wall hangings, coffee table books, fireplace mantle things, etc. By this time, we were completely moved into
our Toyhauler in the campground five miles down the road. We reached that important pinnacle of being ‘disconnected’. Our home was just a house and the stuff left in it was just “someone else’s stuff”.
Then the hard part (for me at least)…my craft studio!
Look, I was a creator, craftsman, artist, scrapper, stamper, jewelry maker, draw-er, color-er, painter, glue-er, paper-folding maniac. I had it all….like…’all’ of Hobby Lobby!!
In fact, in my beautiful craft studio, I had cabinets stuffed with rubber stamps, stamp pads, crap tons of scrapbook supplies and paper, acrylic paints, embellishments of every size, shape and theme. A lot of women wished they had this and…well, with that, I admit, I was a compulsive craft supply hoarder-holic (I made that word up).
I laugh about it now but whoa, not when it came time for me to sell it all, it was overwhelming. Anyways, I set up our finished basement like a miniature Hobby Lobby and Michaels; organizing by craft. It took me TWO FREAKING WEEKS to set up all ‘my shit’ (sorry Mom!). I had scheduled an indoor craft
Now ladies (and guy craftsmen too!), I’m sure you could appreciate this if you are a crafter. At 7:00 in the morning, I literally had a line out to the street with ladies and their plastic-y shopping bags ready to fill them with my stash. Another emotional moment but it was short lived. By the end of the first day, I sold a crap-ton but again, very small dent (yes, I had a crap-ton of stuff!). I scheduled
another two weeks later.
Again, small dent but I was seeing progress. I had sold the bigger real-estate type stuff (small furniture, printers, die-cutters, punches, etc.). It came to the point that I no longer had time or energy to have another sale so I contacted a friend who as a local Girl Scout leader and told her to bring her mini van…empty! I donated what was left. We filled every inch of that mini van. She wrote me a letter showing donation for our taxes. I’m embarrassed to say, it was in the thousands!
It was after that when I sat on the floor of my craft studio and cried waterfalls. All the things that I made pretties, memory albums and gifts out of was gone…well, except a few big storage bins of things I couldn’t part with. The room that I once created on sleepless nights was bare; no evidence of any of my hard work. The cabinets were empty, drawers were bare, countertops were cleared. It no longer had personality. It was like an empty hulled out school room on the first day of summer vacation.
5) HOME SALE or RENTAL CONCERNS
It was late August; this was the beginning of the end but we were growing
impatient. We kept seeing big RV’s come and go, always asking ourselves, ‘when is it going to be our turn’?
September came and went. We were uber frustrated that our beautiful 5 bedroom 3 bath home in an amazing neighborhood was not budging; actually came to the point of becoming angry. Come to find out, our realtor was not working for ‘us’ so we fired her. Funny, she didn’t even argue. She
knew we were onto her marketing strategies that took buyers away from our neighborhood.
Anyway, we took a breather and hired a new ‘hungry’ realtor out of Louisville two weeks later on recommendation from a Real Estate Broker friend (thank you Gwen!) of mine in California. Not 10 days after listing with him, we had a
full-asking price offer with no contingencies. Ha! See how that works!?
6) DONATE! DONATE! DONATE!
Quickly, we emptied closets and drawers of things we simply didn’t need or didn’t care to sell and loaded up Captain America with boxes and bags of clothes, shoes, books, households, etc. and took them to the local donation place. They gave us receipts for our donations. We were so glad that was done.
7) ESTATE SALE
Our last ditch effort of getting rid of the rest of our households and furniture was last on the list. We had less than a month to get rid of EVERYTHING. We had interviewed a couple of Estate Sale Marketers and damn if I wasn’t a blubbering mess after that.
I had visions of people I didn’t know pawing through our shit. We’ve seen it several times driving around the locale seeing ‘Estate Sale’ with lines
of people with lowball offers of sellers’ stuff they worked all of their lives
for. I didn’t know why it bothered me so much but we had to keep the big picture in our minds…the one of our RV tucked in the woods near a river or against a beautiful Rocky Mountain backdrop.
Then something MAGICAL HAPPENED!!
The family who was buying our home contacted me asking if I could show her how to properly care for the water garden, and measure rooms and the windows for curtains, get color ideas, etc. I gladly invited her over for coffee and pastries. (I know, weird, but something told me I needed to).
As we sat in our recently-renovated kitchen with granite countertops, mahogany cabinets with seed glass doors, beautiful lighting fixtures, top-of-the-line stainless appliances, she looks around at what’s left; the furniture, wall art, pretty pillows, area rugs, candle holders, etc. and mutters, ‘if only I could just move in’.
She mentioned that she loved the way I decorated. I was humbled by her compliment but jokingly said out of the side of my mouth, ‘well, you know, everything is for sale’. She hastily asked, ‘well, how much for it all’?
I looked at her with raised eyebrows, wrote a price with a Sharpie marker
on a paper napkin and slid it across the island counter. (Note: we had already
had figured out how much we would have netted off an estate sale). Not thinking about it anything further, we said our goodbyes and good lucks on our closing that was taking place in a couple short weeks.
I kid you not, less than two hours later, I get a phone call, “Lisa, just pack your toothbrushes and suitcases, we’ll buy it all!” Now, for a minute, stand in my shoes. You just got this phone call that was a TOTAL game changer.
Almost immediately after hitting the ‘end phone call’ button on my cellphone, I fell to my knees and started bawling AGAIN. I was praying and thanking God for this most wonderful gift that relieved us of this final chapter before handing over the keys. One could never imagine the huge burden that
was lifted. They wanted EVERYTHING! Even all the holiday decorations in the neatly stacked storage bins in the utility room and stuff up in the attic over the garage.
The day of our closing, we went over to the house to do a once-over for cleanliness and to see if we missed anything. I placed little
gift baskets for their daughters on their beds that were once our guest rooms. All the towels in the bathrooms were clean and hanging like those in a 5-star hotel with pretty soaps in the soap dishes.
It was the day before Thanksgiving so I put a bottle of bubbly and two champagne glasses in the empty refrigerator. I made homemade cookies in the oven the day prior for the girls and placed them on a plate covered with see-through plastic wrap with their names on it. I had even set up the coffee pot that all they had to do was push the button to make their coffee the next morning.
I wrote on another simple yellow stickie note by their two coffee mugs…“WELCOME HOME!”
8) SAY GOODBYE
We let out big sighs of relief that this chapter of our lives had concluded and pulled our keys out of the door one last time. We walked to the truck, turned around to look at the turquoise door of our light colored brick home and gazed for a moment at our perfectly-landscaped ‘House Beautiful’ with no regrets. We felt complete. Our work was done. Our stuff was gone.
Now, years later, looking back on this experience, we admit we’ve learned so much about this process, each other and ourselves. It was quite an emotional process. It’s certainly not for ‘everybody’ and it takes great patience and diligence to get through this. Every emotion will surface. Keep ‘the big picture’ in the back of your minds…always…oh, and photo on your bathroom mirror works too!
Getting back to the discussion with the young lady at the reception desk, the person I was meeting came out to greet me. I laughed as I looked back to her, “She must think I’m crazy!”…
maybe not!? Maybe that was a nudge for her to go buy her RV and to go live her dream. I could see the wheels turning in her head.