Friday, April 5, 2013

What To Do With Mom's "Stuff"!

The purchase of a first home triggers many things: a sharper focus on property taxes in your area; selecting color schemes for dinning rooms; and in my case, finding a gentle way to say "thank you, but no thanks" to a mother wishing to transfer all the family "heirlooms" occupying her home to mine.

Yes, the toss to the next generation.  A discussion of this crops up in my seminars, but focuses on issues related to step-up in basis and or capital gains tax when those items are later sold by the next generation.  Of great important when stock in Coca-Cola, the family farm, or a Monet is changing hands.  The finances surrounding great-grandmas salt and pepper collection are non-existent.  But still, handling the desire of one generation to pass along items to the next can be a tricky situation.

My parents were keepers.  Born into families with little resources, stuff was hard to come by.  As such, they have a strong emotional attachment to rolling pins, vases, cookie cutters, and the like that they used as a child or inherited from someone higher up on the family tree.

As for me?  Nope, I place little to no attachment in tangible items.  There are a few exceptions, photographs for example are something I enjoy displaying in my home.  But for me stuff is cheap, it's easy, while time and memories are in far shorter supply for those raising children today.

And it was with pure delight that I discovered a little shop called Vintage Birch Barn, located in Evansville, Wisconsin.  I've known the owner since childhood; she is the younger sister of a dear friend.  During the week she and her husband go "picking".  They tighten, sand, scrub, and paint.  The end result is what someone once viewed as ugly, rusty junk, transforms into a decorating find for someone else.

Interior shot of Vintage Birch Barn.  Image by M. Gustafson Gervasi, 2013

How does this connect with my mom and her items?  The owners drove to her home, sorted through items that were collected over decades, handed her a check and carted them off.  Now a widow on a fixed income has some extra money, her home is a little less packed, I the daughter have less items to address when the time comes for her to sell her home, and a young couple with a family business has product to sell.  That is a win, win, win in my book.

So, if you are the generation that has lots of stuff and know your children are not interested, or you are the generation faced with clearing away all that stuff -- this is a great connection.  Vintage Birch Barn had the added bonus for our family of being located in Evansville, Wisconsin -- the very town the great-grandmother who collected salt and pepper shakers lived.  If it is too far for you, get on Google and search.  Trash to Treasure type stores are popping up everywhere.  A favorite is Fancy Glass Feeders -- all those old glass bowls and such make for a beautiful bird feeder when transformed!

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