Unloading inventory

During a long weekend visit with me last year, Mom brought a list of the items she keeps in her two safe deposit boxes. She asked me to type them up for better record keeping. Amongst the items were 649 half-dollar coins, dating from 1966 to 1979. 

As we sat in the living room, and i typed away on the laptop, she proceeded to tell me how much those Kennedy half-dollars could be worth.

daisyfae: Well, hell, i can look up estimated values for them. Let’s see what they’re going for!

Much to her disappointment, they are barely worth more than face value. Quick surf showed that the only ones NOT going for face value were the ’66-’69 coins, getting maybe $3 each.  Total estimate?  About $525 for the lot.  This reminded me of my adventures in selling her Avon collection a couple of years before…

During an early round of excavations at her home, we unearthed a monstrous amount of Avon items. Boxes in closets, under beds, stashed in rodent-chewed boxes in the outdoor shed. Most of the boxes were unopened, in the original packaging. During the 70’s and 80’s, Mom had an Avon dealer who had convinced her that “These things are going to be worth a lot of money someday”.

In order to get Mom to turn this stuff loose, i offered to document her collection in a spreadsheet, then do some research to find out what the items were worth. Even figure out where to sell them. In the end, i carted about 20 good-sized boxes of this crap back to my home.

Purchasing “The Avon Collectors Bible”, i set to work identifying each item, estimating the condition, and tallying up the results.

This. Took. Months. 

Many. Fucking. Months.

At the end of a tedious slog through smelly stacks of mildew-encrusted boxes, my spreadsheet estimated the value to be about $1,800. For the period of time i was immersed in this shit – i was an expert on the alleged value for a variety of glassware and decorative items that are essentially very, very ugly.

It was a nicely organized spreadsheet. i set about advertising the collection. Various bulletin boards, Avon collectible websites, as well as a cursory look at eBay….

Nope. Nothing. Not even a nibble. The mice in the shed had demonstrated far more interest in this crap.

It turns out the United States of America is awash in Avon collectibles. Middle-aged children of packrat mothers who bought the lie of the product pushers are all trying to unload truckloads of this shit. This junk was sold to housewives who had no other prospects for retirement income. They believed it was going to give them a nice nest egg for their golden years.

A nice nest for mouse turds, is more like it…

Keeping Mom apprised of the status of my efforts, she was frustrated with my lack of success. She believed they had value. She would not accept that thousands of my father’s hard-earned dollars had been wasted on kitschy glass bottles full of shitty cologne.

When i had the garage sale, i made my last attempt at moving some of them for cash. The Collectors Plates, which Mom had purchased for $25-$35 back in the 1970’s were allegedly worth $30-$40 each. And she had 30 of them….

Trying one last time, i couldn’t even unload the blasted things for $1 each. It all went to Goodwill for recycling. i lied to my Mom, however, telling her i found a buyer. Wrote her a check for $500. From my own bank account.

Mom: That’s all? It was worth a lot more than that. Can’t believe you couldn’t get more for all that…

Pretty sure i’m not going to offer to unload all of those half-dollar coins for her…

48 thoughts on “Unloading inventory

    • not really. i’m not going to see her for mother’s day next sunday. i ordered some tulips and chocolates because i had a coupon and get the bonus frequent flier miles. because the way i see it? she owes me $500!

  1. My word. Just stack that stuff back up in the warehouse. Um, next to all those collectibles from the Franklin Mint. It’ll be worth something someday. In the post-apocalyptic world of tomorrow.

    As my mom and her new hubby prepare to relocate to a new place down in AZ, I fear that I shall be the “lucky” recipient of those “valuable” goodies which will not make the move.

    We knew as youngsters that being a kid was tough. I guess we didn’t know just how tough.

    • Oh, she’s got Franklin Mint coming out of the wazoo. We just put that in storage, as i wasn’t prepared to tackle that crap yet. Have given some thought to trying to sell some of it for the melt value, but there’s so little gold in any of it… the valuables? look through them. perhaps put one or two on a shelf somewhere. the rest? RE-CYCLE!

      the worst one was the year i stopped at the Goodwill drop off bin on my way home after spending a christmas with mom. i just didn’t want it in my house. bad, bad daughter.

  2. xoxoxoxoxox You are the best daughter EVER!! xoxoxoxoxoxox

    I have mixed feelings about people having all that crap. I have nothing over 10 years old. I have no heirlooms – not even crappy ones. I have no “things” that tie me to another generation and sometimes I wish I did – but then again… I guess I’m free from a certain burden.

    Aw, sweetie, you’re the best.

    • no. i’m an awful daughter. remember, i’m blogging about my family as a means of therapy BEHIND THEIR BACKS… the trigger for this post? realizing that the old vinyl LPs in my bookshelf downstairs need to go. Yeah, i loved them. i shall never play them again. they hold NO financial value. maybe turning them into serving bowls by melting them in the oven?

  3. i’m lucky, mum isn’t remembering well so i kinda just remove some stuff every visit.
    ….i’m going to hell aren’t i?

    • we did a lot of that, too. the days of doing excavation, we had a secret trash stash on the side of the house. we threw some newspapers and whatnot in the “stunt” garbage can, which she would check periodically to make sure we weren’t throwing out anything good… but on the side of the house? a HUGE pile of real trash… see you in hell? i’ll be the one tending bar!

    • i’ve done that, too. when packing up her house, though, we let her see and touch every item. that’s why it took 3 months. when it’s time to unpack? i hope to be living abroad… i know it’s all going to be recycled through thrift shops. she hasn’t realized that yet…

  4. Wow, Daisyfae – you’re a wonderful daughter. Again, I feel as if I’ve just read an awesome story that could have appeared in the pages of a groovy metropolitan literary journal. Simply send in your Mom stories to the New Yorker. Alternatively, you could start a twitter account called The S**T My Mom Says!

    • thank you, but i just needed to vent a bit. have been going through my own closets, and thinking “what the hell am i hanging on to THAT for?” and realized i’ve got a tinge of the packrat in me as well… not much feeling the wonderful daughter, though. if i were? i’d handle the sale of those coins…

  5. Yes, at some point, you wish the old folks would have [non-Alzheimer’s] memory lapses and forget about shit like that, but those are the very things they remember most! WTF?

    The worst part is, I know I will be just like that when I’m elderly. Which is totally a loooooooooooooooooooong way off!

    • Mom always valued ‘stuff’ over ‘people’. It’s been a long-standing bone of contention between us. i believe it is a form of OCD, and she is genuinely a hoarder, and at this point, can’t help it. some of it is being a ‘depression’ kid. but my dad grew up dirt poor in the slums of boston. he wasn’t all about the ‘stuff’.

      some of it is just how we’re wired…. and yes, i wish she’d just go to a happy place and could forget that she’s crabby and bitter and that all of her stuff isn’t worth what she thought it was worth… (sigh)

  6. You are the awesomest daughter ever! When my kids were little they collected Japanese game cards – first Pokemon and then Yugioh. As I whined about flushing money down the toilet on this crap, they would say (with disdain), “Mom! Chill out! These cards will be worth millions one day! They’ll pay for our college educations!”

    • hey! i think i still have some of those cards from when The Boy was little. “Pogs” too! i could TOTALLY buy a new car with the proceeds. Have you found a buyer yet? hello? what? no one is buying them because we all have basements full of them? crap…

  7. This reminds me of the time one of my mom so-called collector’s plates broke. I went on eBay to replace it, and easily found it for something like $25. Didn’t have the heart to tell her it had depreciated.

    • it is very sad… i really wanted that stuff to be worth money. same with her glass eggs, gold stamp collection, and all sorts of other commemorative plates and whatnot. but it’s not… there is a glut.

    • me too. a project for the weekend, no doubt, is to haul a few more things to the thrift store for reuse this weekend. i just don’t need stuff. need to let go…

  8. That’s one lie worth telling (although quite an expensive one!).

    I was in the jeweller’s the other day and a man came in with an old ring. It was gold (or looked like gold) and had some kind of small dark blue stone set in it. Poor man looked utterly crestfallen when the jeweller said “Well, about 25, 27 pounds”.

    • it is very sad. especially when there is a long-held belief that “if things ever really get bad, I can start to sell Mom’s jewelry” or something…

  9. I watched a show called Hoarders on tv last night. Man… the crap some people hang on to. One woman had her children taken from her because the house was piled so high with stuff. She just kept on buying things, never even taking them out of the wrapping.

    Another man had so much junk piled up on the stairs his wife fell down and broke a leg. a few weeks later she had a heart attack from the stress of navigating a path between rooms every day. It took him three hours to sort through one small cardboard box just to declare he couldn’t throw any of it out.

    • it’s a form of OCD. it may not start that way, but when it hits and takes hold, that’s what it is. Mom had it. still does. the bed she is living in, which is in my niece’s living room? piled high with the stuff she has to keep at her fingertips. i don’t know where she sleeps. they have simply limited the amount of space that she can put stuff, but it’s piled.

      breaks my heart. i can’t watch that show. it reeks of exploiting mental illness to me… and since i’ve been there, helping clean out a house like that? just don’t want to see it again…

  10. I had to wait for my mom to pass away before I felt good enough about ditching my Sound of Music collector plates that she had given me. I gave them to my gay friends for their softball raffle, these plates were the hit of the raffle cuz all the queens wanted them. Their gay words, not mine.

    • the avon plates? hideously ugly, and nothing even remotely collectible about them – other than a date on them. ick. the sound of music plates? for a good cause? magic!

  11. You are one awesome daughter, Daisyfae, and I don’t want to hear a word to the contrary from you! Seriously.

    Having sold things from estate sales on eBay, I found that if items have been touted as “collectible,” more than likely they aren’t worth a hoot because so many people have them. It’s the things that people didn’t deem valuable enough to save that end up being worth something in the long run.

    Our biggest seller? Movie lobby posters from 1964 through 1996 that the owner of our local theater stuck away somewhere. When the theater closed, he brought them all to the thrift store where we picked them up for about $1.50 each. The top seller at auction on eBay was Clint Eastwood’s “A Fistful of Dollars” which went for $175 to a buyer in Japan. Who knew?

    • i don’t know. i sent flowers for mothers day, instead of visiting this year. she’s only an hour away. but i gotta date, man….

      i think you’ve absolutely nailed it! it’s the odd stuff… as we go through the process of unpacking (should the renovations on the house ever be finished), i will keep an eye out for anything that might have such a trigger!

    • i do enjoy her company – in small doses. and i’m sure i’ll miss her when she’s gone…. thanks for the reminder that she’s a short-timer.

  12. The fact that she’s been living in her GD’s living room…HER choice. The fact that the new place isn’t ready…also HER choice. You do the best you can with the family that life handed you — and you are a very good daughter.
    When my MIL died, she left two old fur coats that she hadn’t worn for 30 years. I suggested donating ’em…nope. A granddaughter took ’em and now they’ve been sitting in her closet for 10 years while she considers where she can sell ’em. Don’t even think the thrift shop wants ’em (but I’m not going to tell her that).

    • thanks. i know it’s her choice. i bring that up periodically and try to keep offering viable options, but she’s not interested. she is in the category of “never happy no matter what” so even if we did make some changes, she’s unlikely to ever be satisfied…

      of all of the stuff mom has given me, the ‘fox stole’ – as in the Flintstone-style of 2 fox carcasses biting head to tail – is my favorite. i have no idea where i put it. i hope someone finds it after i’m dead and completely freaks out!

  13. This is a great story. My reactions were many and varied. Like: You are SUCH a good daughter. What am I saving that is actually worth nothing? (rocks. . .) I HATE Avon and always have, their products give me a splitting headache in seconds. She would have been better off saving coins that were actually made of silver, now worth approximately 9 times their face value. You are SUCH a good daughter! I got a gift card for chocolates in the post yesterday and need to make my order.

    Amazing what goes through one’s mind when reading posts. . .

    • Love the stream-of-consciousness comment! appreciate the kind words… and share your hatred of Avon. i was fairly ambivalent about the stuff until the experience of cleaning, organizing and attempting to sell many thousands of dollars worth of that shit. the chocolates gift card is a fabulous mother’s day gift! i love my bedroom coffee maker. happy saturday!

    • sadly, i have far too much stuff – but i think much of that is because i have the storage space for it. i also have a lot of miscellaneous stuff and furniture that belongs to my adult children. once they get set up on their own ‘for real’, i will have better luck with the downsizing…

  14. I save little thing, but really I don’t have much in the way of collectibles.

    I do have a startling number of dice.

    And yeah. you’re a good daughter.

  15. DON’T SELL THOSE HALF DOLLARS for 3 bucks!!!
    They are worth – today, 5/9/11 – $5.55 EACH for a total of $3600.00 WOW! (Spot price = $37.50/ oz)
    Mom’s best investment, I’d say.
    Visit coinflation.com for a daily update on price. And shop around different coin dealers. Coin dealers should offer “spot” price for junk silver coins.
    Yes, those half Dols are called “junk silver”. Because they have no collector value.
    Don’t go to those “we buy gold” hotel events/ tents/ pawn shops/etc.
    They will rip you off. Go to a coin dealer. Else, put them on Ebay & set the buy it now price right at spot.
    Too bad she didn’t sock away pre-1965 Halves. Those are worth $13.55 each, now.

  16. Thanks for the link – this happened about a year ago and I hadn’t re-checked prices. There will come a day when I need to sell, though, and will look toward “scrap” sale, rather than numismatic!

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