Our Stuff: How It Can Be a Joy and a Burden

Pile of clothes

Popular now is a book titled, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo, which focuses on the joy brought to us by our material possessions. Recently, I watched both Marie Kondo and the documentary Minimalism.

The Minimalist’s mantra goes like this: “Minimalism is a lifestyle that helps people question what things add value to their lives” and is one that I have particularly connected with. The Minimalist’s goal is not that we should live in tiny homes and have one pair of shoes. Instead, it is to bring awareness to the burden that stuff can bring into our lives and how that can impact our quality of life.

Never in life will you have more things than when you have a baby. Never will you be gifted more stuff you’ll question if you need. Who knew…?

You might be asking, why is a store owner writing an article about minimalism? Good question! While I clearly depend on people purchasing things, I also see the resale business as part of the solution. It can help ease the process of dealing with kid’s stuff, thereby potentially making parenting easier and reducing the financial costs of being a parent. I see resale shops contributing to this solution by enabling the movement of unused items out so that other children and families can use them. I love the idea that many other children can use those items. The environmental benefits of this are significant. In my own small way, I am attempting to channel Ghandi by “being the change I want to see in the world”.

Spring is one of those times that families often feel motivated to clear out their homes. Are you feeling motivated?! One way to start is by digging in, asking questions like, “Do I really need to keep this, or could it be easily replaced later, if needed?” or “Will I want to wear these maternity clothes again if I decide to have another child or could I find new-to-me maternity wear?” and “How many toys does my baby truly need?”.

King and South King County, plus the surrounding area has many resources to help us share or pass along gently used items.

a) Donating: One local favorite is Westside Baby, a nonprofit organization that collects basic needs items for children.  Our team at Childish Things has been a proud partner, directly donating items for nearly 10 years.  Check out their website to locate drop-off locations and needed items. This is an easy way to recycle most of your gently used items quickly and easily while benefitting those in need.

b) Resale and Consignment Stores: A resale shop purchases items from you on the spot, whereas a consignment shop provides the service of selling your items on your behalf and you receive funds once the items sell. You may need to prepare items and the shops rarely take everything, but most are happy to pass-through items to charity partners requiring just one stop.  Earning credit for trade-in can also provide the opportunity to buy items with a more immediate need.  Stores have different policies for when, how and the percentage they’ll pay out. Some may require appointments or allow walk-ins. Be sure to check out their websites or call before you visit.

c) Direct Selling: Selling directly to another person through a variety of apps can put more money in your pocket, if you have the time and inclination. This can be more time consuming, dealing with no-shows and hagglers. It can work well for larger pieces and can be a good way to connect with other local parents. If items have no real value or are damaged, there are Buy Nothing groups and listings for free items. One man’s trash is another man’s treasure, so the saying goes, and keeps things from the landfill.

Whatever way you choose to do it, I encourage you to simply do it.  “And by clearing the clutter from life’s path, we can all make room for the most important aspects of life – health, relationships, passion, growth and contribution.”  – The Minimalists

Wendy PowellWendy Powell is the owner of Childish Things, a local children’s clothing resale boutique.  After having children she realized how much stuff was involved and slowly began building an online business.  With a marketing background and zero retail experience, she chose to open a small resale shop in North Seattle in 2008. After ten years, they outgrew their space and recently doubled their size by moving just one block.  She lives in Phinney Ridge with her husband John, her two children, now teenagers attending Ballard High School, a Corgi and two cats.  

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