Lordy, lordy, look who’s hoardy

Posted by Jenny in Sale Tales | 18 Comments

Okay, who else has been watching that Hoarders show on A&E and getting a little freaked out? Granted, I’m nowhere near the folks on this show, as far as having that much stuff … but once in a while it hits kinda close to home. I mean, who among us hasn’t bought random unnecessary items and then held onto them way longer than space or need required?

Let’s face it, a lot of us yard-sale fans probably have a wee touch o’ the hoarding. I’d even venture to say it’s one of those “spectrum disorders” — some people might have a few symptoms yet still live completely functional lives, while others (like most of the folks on the show) are severely affected by what seems to be a true psychological problem. I mean in those cases, it is severe, and it’s not a matter of “they should just stop” — it seems like a lot of them can’t stop.

But for the rest of us, when is it that things get taken too far? What if you collect bottles. You might have a lot of them. Is that hoarding?

Bottles bottles everywhere

Probably not. But what if there’s more?

More bottles

And more? Along with other glass items. Lamps and beads, anyone?

Glass bottles, beads, lamps

Maybe there’s too many to have out on display. You might need to just start filling up boxes. Hey, is that a crap-ton of polished rocks over on the right?

Smallish bottles

Maybe you need some boxes to store all of your decorative Avon bottles, too.

Avon calling

As you may have guessed, these photos are all from one estate sale, which we hit last weekend (after a several-week-long sale break). What you also need to know is that there were more bottles, more rocks, more Avon, more beaded necklaces … lots and lots more. Enough that it was definitely starting to feel a little hoardy in there.

But this person didn’t hoard everything. There were some vintage clothes that she’d kept around, but only about a closetful. Books, records, sheet music, kitchen stuff … positively reasonable in number. And the house was huge. If you have the space, and keep things organized, is it really hoarding if your collections have just gotten a little (okay, maybe a lot) out of hand?

Hmmm. Probably not. But what if you also have multiple containers of decades-old instant coffee in your basement?

Instant coffee through the ages

And some equally ancient cans of food?

Very old canned goods

What about stuff you canned yourself … about nineteen years ago?

Scary ancient home-canned stuff

And what if all that was in an entire room full of about a hundred times more of it (plus a heaping helping of more glass bottles and other random crap to boot)?

The food room

I don’t know. Like I said, the house was big. It was probably all very organized (things were laid out on tables and such for the sale, but it seemed pretty tidy). Although the stuff did fill up almost every possible inch of the house — even a little nook on the back side of the furnace.


And it often didn’t seem like deliberate hoarding, so much as just buying stuff and storing it away and then never thinking about it again … for like thirty years.

Dimension conditioner

Now, people in houses full of weird thrifted crap probably shouldn’t throw any stones. But going to this kind of estate sale does feel a bit like watching the Hoarders show (except that you’re left to your own imagination as far as the people involved). Both of those leave me with the urge to really pare stuff down. I mean, it’s fine to stock up on useful items, or have collections, or do crafty things like make jewelry or can food. But when you never use the stuff you stockpile, or you end up with way more than you could possibly ever appreciate or even remember you have? What’s the point?

I’ll leave you with perhaps the best and worst of this sale. This assortment of products and packages was presumably collected, not stored since their original purchase (though really, who can be sure). As with every single picture in this post, what you are seeing is just a small subset of similar items at the sale.

Various ancient products

And finally, you know how sometimes people have a junk drawer? This house had an entire junk room. Here’s one little bit of it.

Junk drawers

Phew. Time for us to start going through our own stockpiles and start planning our next yard sale! In between hitting some more of the always-questionable off-season offerings around town, of course …

18 Responses to Lordy, lordy, look who’s hoardy

  1. terry lee says:

    oh dear lord! i am now very compelled to start cleaning up my act around this place. wth?!

    reminds me of an estate sale i visited last summer in ft. worth. it was a large home as well and there wasn’t a nook or cranny that wasn’t packed with STUFF. hoarder? collector?? maybe the answer’s in the eye of the beholder.

    great post. missed reading you guys!

    terry lee

  2. sue says:

    Oh, grrrls, you leave us hanging for a month (plus) and then unleash this goodie! I love these sales that stop you dead in your tracks, slack-jawed, and make you reconsider your own space.

    Glad you got out alive. With out the pomades and home-made canned items. Ick.

  3. Meghan says:

    Sue, you are so sweet. and um, I hate to admit this, but I purchased the Folger’s coffee. I have been thinking about sneaking it into a store and leaving it with the new jars.

  4. Amy says:

    Hmmmmm…..Does it count as hoarding when what you collect involves only vintage Christmas santas?——ok, and ornaments, snowmen, angels, trees, Gurley candles–yes, even the melty ones, bottle brush trees, chippy nativity sets, and…oh…those darling little Putz houses, and….

    As always, Thanks for sharing! You’ve been missed!!

  5. grannyann says:

    Oh wow, I have seen a couple of estate sales that looked like that. A few years back since I had gotten burned out on my craft business, I cleaned out a whole lot of stuff. Made a great garage sale. That was a great post.

  6. sherri says:

    I love that jar of canned goop with the “for health’s sake” lid and the Town House chili, I miss you, Safeway.

    My theory is these people lived through the Depression and held onto stuff that could be used or re-used whether they used it or not. Some antique bottles are valuable (most aren’t) and they might have kept them thinking they were worth something.

    I have a couple of closets to clean now.

  7. jackie says:

    I can’t believe there was a box of Moone’s Emerald Oil. I would have definitely bought it. Well, I would have picked it up and thought about buying it, since I have a bottle of the stuff at home already in my bottle collection and it’s one of my favorites. Do I need another one, just because it came with the box? This is a great site. My sister and i regularly take pictures of “things we didn’t buy today” so I’m going to forward her this link!

  8. ella says:

    I kinda like estate sales like that.

    Love watching Hoarders. Makes me feel better about my own collections.

  9. Alyssa says:

    Like someone above said, it was probably someone who lived through the depression. My grandmother was like that. Thanks goodness we lived with her and cleaned stuff out every once in awhile. Her big weakness was card-christmas, birthday, you name it. We found cards written to us from about 10 years previous when we cleaned out her house for the final time.

  10. Laura says:

    Meghan-that would be HILARIOUS!!!

    That was very interesting, including the pictures of the organized chaos. I think that people who have lost someone or something (i.e. childhood) at a young age have a tendency to do that. My Mom was a hoarder. If she had 1 of something she had 20 of them. She was an only child to a couple who never intended on having children. I don’t think she received the love or nurturing as a child that she should have. She spent her whole life trying to fill that vacancy in her life with things. She passed 5 years ago and we are STILL going through things!! God bless her and I hope she’s found the peace she never found here!!!
    On the upside, I haven’t had to buy trash bags (and many other things) in 5 years =)

  11. barbara says:

    I watched that show once and conveniently forgot when it was on, and what channel it was on, and even that it existed, kind of like the way I forget dentist appointments. I really was worried for a minute that all of those bottles belonged to you. Phew!

  12. Jen says:

    OMG! I’ve totally been watching that show. It’s so sad!! That one lady with all the food issues? So Ka-Razy!!!! I wish they’d show the whole place all nice and cleaned up. I need that before and after fix.

  13. cindy says:

    holy calamity!!

  14. Michel says:

    Thanks for the interesting post! You and the Hoarders show do make us think about our own “collections.” Great to have you back, by the way.

  15. Zombek says:

    Love the blog just found it, speaking of hoarders have you guys read the new E.L. Doctorow novel about the Collyer Brothers.


    Truthfully I am just fascinated with what kind of “junk” they collected off the streets of New York City in the thirties and forties. I wish someone took inventory or at least pictures.

  16. Jenny says:

    Nope, haven’t read it … but I did read “Ghosty Men: The Strange but True Story of the Collyer Brothers” by Franz Lidz a while back. That wikipedia page talks a little about what happened to their stuff … a lot was trashed, some was sold. And this: “Today, the Collyer Death Chair is maintained in the holdings of a collector of oddities named Babette Bombshell of Orlando, Florida.” !!!

  17. Gina E says:

    I have just discovered your blog and am giggling my way through it – you do have a way with words!! I’ve been culling my hoarded stuff (50 years worth) lately, but looking at what this person has collected, I may as well have saved all my stuff! But our house isn’t as big as this one, so my extra stuff had to go…sob..

  18. Kathy says:

    It would be funny if it wasn’t so close to my toes.