It’s well documented that Millennials are less sentimental and acquisitive than their parents They don’t want your matching china for 24. They may not even want your room-size oriental rug.
So, what do you with the unneeded items when you’re rightsizing? You organize into categories. Then, find alternate outlets for treasured items and donate the rest.
One organizing and moving company suggests allocating at least 100 hours … about two and a half work weeks … to the task of sorting through the items you’ve amassed over decades. Then evaluate its future status as keep, pass to heirs, sell, consign, donate, recycle, or toss.
Chris Axelrod of Bratenahl, who is known in some circles as Cleveland’s GoToGuy (, says, “I tell people who are facing right-sizing, a simple way to do it is to get a pack of red, yellow and green post-it notes. Then, go through the house and make decisions about each item’s next residence.”
He explains that red means stop, it stays with the owner. Yellow means undecided. Green leaves the household.
“It sounds elementary, but this forces you to make decisions. You see the colors and you get a sense of the volume,” he notes. Sometimes the process can be repeated until yellows are all gone.
“The hardest thing in this process is pulling the trigger. It’s emotional,” he says. But, waxing poetic, he says, “It was gifted to you by the universe, now you’re giving it back for another life.”
Giving it back to the universe can start with Axelrod if you have fine antiques, vintage automobiles, or rare collections among other unusual items.
“I like competitive hard-to-place items. I like using my mind and resources to think through and consider a market for items most people would walk away from,” he says, noting the rehoming of a pair of 8,000-pound granite eagle monuments carved by a 19th century sculptor. “It’s not the kind of thing you put on Craig’s list. They took a year to market.”
He dispels the notion that collections are out. “Certain items are out. Shelf-sitters are out,” he says. “Younger homeowners and designers don’t want shelves cluttered with things.”
“A collection that’s well curated, like a beautiful fountain pens or wristwatches, has a market with other collectors. You have to know where to find them.” And that’s Axelrod’s expertise, finding the most interested buyers from around the country.
If you find yourself overwhelmed or with too many yellow and green post-it notes tagging objects, you might want to hire a professional move manager like Transitional Design in Broadview Heights.
“It can be emotionally overwhelming,” echoes owner Nancy Sheeler. Her team does everything from planning a move and packing to physically moving and selling items at a 15,000-square-foot retail outlet or at online auctions. They’ll even truck donations and trash to its final destinations.
Household liquidator Andrew Hohenfeld and others like him help value and sell the items through estate sales on location. In addition to estate sales, Hohenfeld offers consignment on better quality items, again matching sellers with interested buyers around the country.
“My specialty is fine estate jewelry and designer costume jewelry and designer handbags,” he notes.
Building materials and large items that seem hopeless may be destined for Rebuilder’s Xchange in Cleveland. Owner Jessica Davis runs a 50,000-square-foot warehouse containing everything from furniture and fixtures to vintage bars and shop materials.
Meanwhile antique retailer Ron Greenwald of Greenwald Antiques on Chagrin Boulevard is buying luxury goods as well as 18th, 19th and 20th century decorative objects of art and jewelry. “I’m actively looking for quality items – paintings, sculpture, silver and fine crystal,” he says. The store is also considering meaningful mid-century modern art.
For desirable, but more ordinary items consider approaching a consignment store that deals in household goods. Some, like It’s So You Resale in Willoughby deal in current clothing, jewelry, and home décor items.
“Good linens, lamps, current wall art, casual dishes and mirrors are big sellers for us,” says owner Laurel Howes. “I can sell the occasional chair, side table, nightstand, farm table and chairs, but not formal furniture.” She specifies that furniture size must be manageable by two women and an SUV.
With so many people working from home desks are in demand. Seasonal décor like door wreaths is hot in season. Figurines and collectibles are a firm “no.”
Consigners make 45 to 50 percent of the final selling price. “People must have realistic expectations of selling prices. They can be as little as 10 percent of the original cost or 60 percent. It depends on supply and demand,” says Howes.
For items that are hard to place donating them to a charity will extend their useful life, and merit a tax deduction. Consider Hospice of the Western Reserve, National Council of Jewish Women/Cleveland or Cleveland Furniture Bank.
Volunteers from Hospice of the Western Reserve prefer to review pictures for appropriate, gently used furniture, home décor, lamps, dish sets and more. They will arrange professional moving companies to pickup appropriate items.
“Bedrooms sets are in high demand, but no mattresses, TVs or electronics,” says Lisa Scotese Gallagher director of staff experience.
The items are sold at reasonable prices in quarterly, weekend sales. Funds are used to benefit Hospice clients. For example, the agency purchased a lift chair to improve for one client and a laptop for a pediatric patient who didn’t have the financial means or insurance coverage.
NCJW/CLE raises money through a retail thrift store – Thriftique Showroom, 5055 Richmond Road in Bedford Heights, and a four-day, annual Designer Dress Days event in October. They accept donations for both. Thriftique takes furniture, artwork, clothing, housewares, home goods and more. Designer Dress Days works with donated designer clothing and accessories. Proceeds from both these retail operations support NCJW/CLE community projects and programming to improve the lives of women, children, and families.