Whether a few decades of moving changed from families staying in the same house a lifetime----whether downsizing has citizens first moving prized possessions into STORAGE FACILITIES----and then getting tired of paying simply donate. Our children and grandchildren are no longer inheriting our houses in which to live or sell for their own retirement funds----and they are not getting family heirlooms. All of this has again lowered WE THE PEOPLE from middle/working class into poverty.
I'm having just the same problem as this article in wanting to sell a great couch for cheap and will probably end having to donate it. 40 years ago you placed an add in the paper half-dozen calls and that item was sold. Each time we have to donate a valuable purchase we lose our own personal wealth.
Why the Market for Heirloom and Secondhand Furniture Has Disappeared
Upholstered sofas, hutches, formal dining sets, wood-finished dressers, pianos—all have become almost impossible to sell or even give away
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As people look to de-clutter their homes, it's harder than ever to get rid of used furniture and other bulky things. Alina Dizik joins Lunch Break with Tanya Rivero what options are out there besides Craigslist and the curb. Photo: iStock
Updated July 1, 2014 7:19 p.m. ET
After his son went off to college in August, Craig Norberg-Bohm was ready to downsize. In less than two weeks, he sold his five-bedroom home and bought a three-bedroom. But almost a year later, he is still trying to get rid of his extra furniture.
Friends have been through to cherry-pick the contents of the 62-year-old's Arlington, Mass., home. He put shelves, a childhood dresser and other furniture in storage. Now, with his moving date approaching fast, he is still looking for a home for four bookshelves, two bedroom sets, two desks and a dining room set.
"Nobody wants a pingpong table," says Mr. Norberg-Bohm, a community educator for a Boston nonprofit.
Whether moving to a smaller abode or simply cleaning out, many people are making an unwelcome discovery: Their prized family heirlooms have turned into junk. Upholstered sofas, formal dining tables and hutches, Victorian-style mahogany and oak furniture, entertainment units, bulky television sets, pianos—all have become almost impossible to sell or, in some cases, give away.
Janet Sharp Kershaw, hoping to move from her Winchester, Mass., home to an apartment, has spent two years paring down antiques, china and outdoor accessories. Dominick Reuter for The Wall Street Journal The furnishings industry has a name for the big, dated wood-finished and upholstered pieces that no one wants anymore—"brown furniture." Stockpiles of "brown leather and brown Ultrasuede couches have nowhere to go," says Jeffrey Brooks, a Long Valley, N.J., interior designer.
What happened to the market for secondhand furniture? Those consumers are shopping at Ikea, Wal-Mart and Target, says Jerry Epperson, a partner at Mann, Armistead and Epperson, a Richmond, Va., investment bank specializing in the home-furnishings sector. The cost of furniture, in constant dollars, has fallen on average about 50% over the past 30 years, he says, the result of the availability of cheaper imports.
Even the Salvation Army, known for making furniture pickups, has become pickier in recent years, says Major Greg Davis, a general secretary at the nonprofit. Delivery-truck drivers began carrying Internet-enabled tablets about two years ago. When in doubt, they take a quick photo of a piece and send it ahead to the local store to make sure it will be accepted. Many shelving units are turned away, he says, as are pianos and badly torn or stained upholstered furniture. Still, the volume of furniture delivered at Salvation Army centers is growing by about 4% a year, Major Davis says.
When locating from full-size suburban houses to townhomes, many people realize too late that their old furniture will be an awkward fit, says Mr. Brooks, the interior designer. Design elements in new construction, including kitchen islands, built-in shelves and the lack of formal dining rooms help make older furniture feel dated. The sizes are all wrong, he says. "Everything had been scaled for bigger spaces."
Many homeowners moving to smaller abodes with new dimensions and built-in features find they have no use for prized pieces—including, clockwise from upper left, home-workout equipment, dining room sets, armoires, pianos, media and home-entertainment units and wood-finished dressers—and neither does anyone else.. Getty Images (6) For homeowners in a rush, Kate Grondin, who owns Home Transition Resource, of Andover, Mass., has a procedure. First, she advises homeowners to use email and social media to put out the word to friends and family that they have stuff they want to sell or give away. Then, she invites in antiques dealers to pick through the most valuable items. Next she brings in local consignment-store owners to assess other salable items, such as mid-century and industrial-style furniture, Oriental rugs, informal kitchen tables, art, side tables and yard equipment.
After that, she tries to donate items to local nonprofits. Finally, she posts pieces on Craigslist, offering them at no charge—as long as the taker comes to get them.
While clients may get anywhere from several hundred to several thousand dollars for their belongings, the cash isn't the most important thing, she says. "Just having it gone is worth a lot," says Ms. Grondin who charges hourly and often gets $3,000 to $4,000 for the average home. She often warns clients to expect their children to have little-to-no interest in the stuff.
Janet Sharp Kershaw, 55, has spent two years downsizing in hopes of moving from her three-bedroom Winchester, Mass., home to an apartment in Boston or New York this year. "It was very tedious," she says. At one point, she dialed a junk-removal service, and two delivery men helped her fill a dumpster with unwanted items. They charged $800.
Looking back, she says she regrets throwing away several decorative doors and three rugs. "It made me feel terrible," she says. "I should have been able to give them away to someone who needs them." Since then, she has learned about Freecycle.org, where users unload unwanted things to others at no charge.
Three months ago, Ms. Grondin helped Ms. Sharp Kershaw contact specialty dealers to pare down her collections of china and silver, antique furniture, artwork and outdoor accessories. She sold an antique dining hutch purchased 15 years ago for $5,000 to an antiques dealer for $3,500. A local secondhand furniture shop gave her $500 for a bulky horizontal dresser she bought 10 years ago for $2,500. After two months of trying to sell an antique sleigh bed she bought five years ago for $3,000, she gave it away to a nonprofit.
Maureen Spriggs cleared out a 20-year stockpile of furniture from her Wilmette, Ill., home. It saved time to hire a third party for the sorting. Otherwise, she says, the tendency would have been to "build a three-act play" around each item. The company she hired was an "eco-cleanout" specialist, meaning they sell or recycle but don't throw things away.
Ms. Spriggs agreed to donate holiday decorations to a nonprofit. "You can't imagine how wonderful it is that I don't have 87 pieces of Christmas decorations stuffing up my garage," she says. She gave a rarely used sage-green sleeper sofa, Prairie-style end tables, an ottoman and two lamps to her administrative assistant at the real-estate office where she works. The co-worker sent her a photo of her new living-room setup and a handwritten thank-you note.
An efficient secondhand-furniture market would actually help new-furniture sales, some retailers say. Doug Wolf, co-owner of Wolf Furniture in Altoona, Penn., started Allegheny Consignment, a consignment-shop chain where shoppers are encouraged to consign old pieces after purchasing new ones at Wolf. "We get two sales from the same customer," says Mr. Wolf. He has two Allegheny stores open and plans for a third in fall. Allegheny gets 50% of the secondhand sales. Consignors earn an average of $200 per sale, he says.
This is the major reason Wall Street players chastise the 99% for not saving or being thrifty-----citizens are simply feeling everything needs to be new---it needs to be the best ---and a few decades down the road families fall into financial trouble. It is true the Great Depression era families knew that value -----the baby boomers overall did not waste their earnings as much as their assets were stolen through fraud and BAINS CAPITAL corporate bankruptcies which are fabricated as legal.
This coming decade after the economic crash will make most people feel we are in a GREAT DEPRESSION. Each time we lose one asset class----then another----this is why Wall Street is saying BYE BYE AMERICAN MIDDLE-CLASS. As we watch our low-income citizens go to a Wall Mart for clothing thinking it is cheap-----rather than saving for a quality piece of clothing---that cheap item must be replaced over and over while that more expensive item will last 10 years. This is how Wall Street has deliberately moved WE THE PEOPLE into poverty. As the only development in US cities deemed US Foreign Economic Zones is allowed to global corporations and global NGOs-----these cycles of poverty and products will deepen. Americans will be those global citizens receiving donations from the global 1% and their 2% ----it's already happening.
Stuff it: Millennials nix their parents’ treasures
An old heavy leather sofa sits in a garage in Fairfax Station waiting for a new home. The owner, a baby boomer, tried to pass it on to her children but none showed interest (Astrid Riecken/For The Washington Post)
By Jura Koncius March 27, 2015
A seismic shift of stuff is underway in homes all over America.
Members of the generation that once embraced sex, drugs and rock-and-roll are trying to offload their place settings for 12, family photo albums and leather sectionals.
Their offspring don’t want them.
As baby boomers, born between 1946 and 1964, start cleaning out attics and basements, many are discovering that millennials, born between 1980 and 2000, are not so interested in the lifestyle trappings or nostalgic memorabilia they were so lovingly raised with.
Thanks, Mom, but I really can’t use that eight-foot dining table or your king-size headboard.
Josh and Kelly Phillips rent a 700-square-foot apartment in Shaw, which they keep free of clutter. (Astrid Riecken/For The Washington Post)
Whether becoming empty nesters, downsizing or just finally embracing the decluttering movement, boomers are taking a good close look at the things they have spent their life collecting. Auction houses, consignment stores and thrift shops are flooded with merchandise, much of it made of brown wood. Downsizing experts and professional organizers are comforting parents whose children appear to have lost any sentimental attachment to their adorable baby shoes and family heirloom quilts.
To make matters worse, young adults don’t seem to want their own college textbooks, sports trophies or T-shirt collections, still entombed in plastic containers at their parents’ homes.
The 20- and 30-somethings don’t appear to be defined by their possessions, other than their latest-generation cellphones.
“Millennials are living a more transient life in cities. They are trying to find stable jobs and paying off loans,” says Scott Roewer, 41, a Washington professional organizer whose business is the Organizing Agency. “They are living their life digitally through Instagram and Facebook and YouTube, and that’s how they are capturing their moments. Their whole life is on a computer; they don’t need a shoebox full of greeting cards.”
Many millennials raised in the collect-’em-all culture (think McDonald’s Happy Meal toys and Beanie Babies) now prefer to live simpler lives with less stuff in smaller downtown spaces, far from the suburban homes with fussy window treatments and formal dining rooms that they grew up in.
The desire of many millennials to stay in cities rather than moving to the suburbs or rural areas is instigating a rewrite of the American dream. According to the 2014 Nielsen report “Millennials: Breaking the Myths,” 62 percent of millennials prefer to live in the type of mixed-use communities found in urban centers where they can live near shopping, restaurants and work. And 40 percent say they would want to live there in the future.
Take Kelly and Josh Phillips, who rent a 700-square-foot apartment in the District’s Shaw neighborhood. The couple frequently sells things on Craigslist and calls an Uber instead of owning a car. “My parents are always trying to give us stuff,” says Kelly Phillips, 29, a real estate marketer. “It’s stuff like bunches of old photos and documents, old bowls or cocktail glasses. We hate clutter. We would rather spend money on experiences.”
Her husband agrees. “I consider myself a digital hoarder,” says Josh Phillips, 33, who is opening a Oaxacan restaurant, Espita Mezcaleria, this fall in Shaw. “If I can’t store my memories of something in a computer, I’m probably not going to keep them around.”
Stephanie Kenyon, 60, the owner of Sloans & Kenyon Auctioneers and Appraisers in Chevy Chase, says the market is flooded with boomer rejects. “Hardly a day goes by that we don’t get calls from people who want to sell a big dining room set or bedroom suite because nobody in the family wants it. Millennials don’t want brown furniture, rocking chairs or silver-plated tea sets. Millennials don’t polish silver.” The formal furniture is often sold at bargain prices, or if it’s not in good shape, it might go straight to the dump.
“Baby boomers were collectors,” says Elizabeth Wainstein, 50, owner and president of Potomack Company Auctioneers in Alexandria, where lots of unwanted family treasures end up being sold. “They collected German porcelains or American pottery. It was a passion, and they spent their time on the thrill of the hunt.” She says younger people aren’t really that interested in filling shelves.
Kenyon says the under-35 set has always had eBay to find exactly what they wanted and aren’t as nostalgic for former decades.
Dominique Fierro, 33, a photographer and stylist who rents a 900-square-foot condo in Bethesda with her husband, Titou, 33, a personal trainer, is always fending off offers. “My family is always trying to give me stuff,” Fierro says. Every couple of months, she cleans out her closets and gives her own things away either to charities or to cousins. “I don’t want formal entertaining stuff. I have a set of white and a set of blue plates. I don’t want my parents’ silver that you have to hand-wash.”
Millennials like to stick to their personal design aesthetic. “Millennials are design-conscious, informed consumers. They bring a lot more confidence to how they want their homes to look,” says Newell Turner, 53, editorial director of the Hearst Design Group. “They need to have reasons for why they are doing something. They are not just taking a bed to inherit it. It has to have an important meaning for them or fit in with an aesthetic they are building for themselves.”
Tyler Whitmore, 58, owner of Tyler Whitmore Interiors in Bethesda, consults on staging and downsizing. “Eight times out of 10, kids don’t want the parents’ furniture or boxes of letters or scrapbooks,” she says. “That’s a hard thing to come to grips with, and at first parents are insulted. It can create hurt feelings. But it’s not that they don’t love you. They don’t love your furniture.”
Kenyon says that boomers may be a bit envious of their offspring as they look to shed things and have more freedom to travel.
Roewer often finds himself counseling boomers as he helps them clear out. Roewer was born in 1973, which makes him part of Generation X. He says his own parents try to give him items for his 750-square-foot home.
“When my parents downsized from 4,500 square feet to 1,100, they sent me four boxes of stuff. It was things like cards from people I no longer knew, a paper plate with the face of a lion I had glued yarn around and my christening outfit. I appreciate my mom taking care of this stuff, but I really don’t want it.” (He is keeping his Cub Scout Pinewood Derby cars.)
Karen Hammerman, 52, one of Roewer’s clients, has three sons ages 17 to 24. She and her husband, Ira, live in a five-bedroom house in Rockville. “Millennials have stuff on discs and flash drives,” she says. “I don’t think my sons are going to want my walnut table, eight chairs and buffet. We will downsize maybe in five years, and I will either sell this stuff or give it away.”
Hammerman has three large zip-top bags full of memories set aside, one for each son. But as Roewer told her, she shouldn’t be insulted if they don’t want their first-grade drawings or boxes with seashells glued to them.
“They made these things and gave them to you and you enjoyed them,” Roewer says. “The gift-giving cycle is now complete.”
We have discussed at length these few decades of GLOBAL BIG AG taking all kinds of small farms---dairies---and with that more loss of real estate owned by WE THE PEOPLE. 1% Wall Street global corporate pols have those same decades played on our family farmers to deregulate and to end estate taxes----all with the aim of enriching the rich and not helping our middle-working class.
It is critical to rebuild REAL small farm and fresh food not just the PROGRESSIVE POSING done in cities like Baltimore. If a US city is deemed Foreign Economic Zone the expanse of industry and the pollution eliminates where small farms can ---I say if they will exist. As more unemployed citizens are being pushed into agriculture the direction Wall Street is going will have people as sharecroppers or tenet farmers.....not land owners handing down that family farm.
A farmhouse is filled with family heirlooms and farm equipment handed down to the next generation as personal wealth. THIS IS HOW OUR MIDDLE-CLASS IS DISAPPEARING---it is not the estate tax----
All these new farmers being sold on great expensive farming technology taking yet again their ability to accumulate wealth
In this technologically advanced world, most are unaware that a prosperous society does not hinge on acquiring gadgets, vehicles or other luxury items. Rather, a significant indicator of a healthy society is the stability of the family unit'.
'In the 21st century, few are able to step outside on a warm summer morning and hear hens clucking contentedly and cattle lowing in the field. Nor are they able to walk to the garden and pull up fresh carrots, harvest succulent lettuce and pick tomatoes from the vine. This way of life is rapidly disappearing'.
The Disappearing Family Farm
The lifestyle of the family farmer is fading fast. How does this affect you?
In the 21st century, few are able to step outside on a warm summer morning and hear hens clucking contentedly and cattle lowing in the field. Nor are they able to walk to the garden and pull up fresh carrots, harvest succulent lettuce and pick tomatoes from the vine. This way of life is rapidly disappearing.
Gone for most are the times when farmers would work together with their wives and children to feed the cows or harvest that year’s crop of onions and garlic from the garden.
Gone are the days when youngsters, after finishing their chores, could run down to the pond, straddle the branch of a large willow, lean back against the trunk, and spend an idyllic hour watching the turtles and fish or listening to the yellow warbler while looking out over acres of cornfields.
Gone are the evening meals where families recounted the day’s accomplishments.
A class of society is being lost, and with it, iconic barns and sprawling rural landscapes are fading at an alarming rate. The concept of a small family farm—one that has been owned and operated by one family for possibly several generations—has been all but destroyed.
The ever-encroaching crush of urbanization plays a major part in the disappearance of the family farm.
“According to the Census of Agriculture,” a United States Department of Agriculture report revealed, “the number of U.S. farms fell sharply until the early 1970s after peaking at 6.8 million in 1935…By 2002, about 2.1 million farms remained.”
“The American Farmland Trust estimates an acre of U.S. farmland goes into development every two minutes, while Environment Colorado estimates the state lost 1.26 million acres of agricultural land between 1997 and 2002,” The Denver Post reported. “This loss averages 690 acres per day in Colorado, the third highest in the nation.”
Statistics Canada said the situation there is similar, as the amount of farms surveyed by the census “continues to drop, according to data from the 2006 Census of Agriculture, declining 7.1% to 229,373 farms over the five-year period between the censuses…This represents 17,550 fewer farms than in 2001.”
As the farming community ages, those within it and the land they own come under intense pressure.
“Aging farmers and ranchers, whose average age has risen from 52 to 57 during the last 20 years, are often retiring without a younger family member willing to take over, thus too often removing multi-generation ranches and farms from production” (ibid.).
Statistics show that less than a third of farms have a designated successor in the family. Many young couples are unwilling to invest $500,000 in a business that requires them to work 12-16 hours per day throughout most of the year and then get a return that amounts to the equivalent of what a farmers’ wages would have been 30 years ago.
Bright city lights are another distraction. Today, farming is looked down upon while city-based, high-paying white-collar jobs are glamorized. Also, some farmers do not want their children to have to “work as hard as I do,” and advise them to pursue a different profession.
Another reason for the disappearing family farm is the ever-increasing disparity between dwindling income and soaring expenses. Net farm income in 2000 dropped to $39.7 billion—the lowest since 1995. On the other hand, production expenses rose to $197.5 billion or 88 percent of gross cash income—the highest since 1980-1984.
While food prices have gone up substantially in supermarkets, the wages farmers are paid have been left out of the equation. Although private manufacturers can include all their costs plus a fair profit, government boards often set prices for what farmers receive for their products. Because of this, the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics projected that farmers will have the largest job loss of any other occupation.
“It has been estimated that living expenses for the average farm family exceed $47,000 per year,” an Environmental Protection Agency report stated. “Clearly, many farms that meet the U.S. Census’ definition would not produce sufficient income to meet farm family living expenses. In fact, fewer than 1 in 4 of the farms in this country produce gross revenues in excess of $50,000.”
Growth of Agribusiness
Giant agribusinesses are an additional factor. Even though 90 percent of all farms are still owned by families or individuals, more and more farms are becoming “corporations.”
These giant agribusinesses are not just involved in local farming, but also in the distribution, processing, storage and retail of farm products nationwide. The result is that milk in a carton now can contain the milk of hundreds of cows. The same can be said of the fast-food burger.
“The days when hamburger meat was ground in the back of a butcher shop, out of scraps from one or two sides of beef, are long gone…the huge admixture of animals in most American ground beef plants has played a crucial role in spreading E. coli…” Eric Schlosser wrote in Fast Food Nation. “A single fast food hamburger now contains meat from dozens or even hundreds of different cattle.”
As small family farms are squeezed out of existence, investment groups and equity firms are buying more and more land, according to a Reuters article.
“The World Bank and the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) cited the trend in a report in January, noting a ‘sharp increase’ in agricultural investments the world over. Such private investment could offer significant benefits to the sector—not to mention the human race—by helping modernize farming tools and techniques, the agency said.
“Not everybody is thrilled by Wall Street’s hayride, however. At a World Bank gathering in Washington last month critics addressed the implications of the trend, calling it a modern-day land rush. They worry in particular about what they label an unfair transfer of valuable land and water resources from the poor to the wealthy.”
Matter of Subsidies
In the agricultural industry, certain products can be produced cheaply in large quantities, stored over long periods, and shipped easily. These items must be heavily subsidized to keep prices artificially low on the world market. Yet subsidies—money paid to industries to produce goods more cheaply for a nation so that it can better compete in the global market—can harm the family farm.
“Since 1970, [U.S.] farm subsidies have totaled $578 billion, according to the Historical Tables of the U.S. budget…Roughly 90 percent of commodity payments go to farmers raising grains and oilseeds (wheat, corn, sorghum, soybeans), cotton and rice; they represent about a fifth of farm cash receipts,” a Newsweek article stated.
Subsidies can lead to chronic overproduction and dumping of surpluses on the global market, which often forces smaller, non-competitive producers out of business. The abandoned land is then swallowed by larger conglomerate farms.
In South Africa, a different problem is affecting family farms. Increasing attacks are driving many from their land. For example, “a militia led onslaught on commercial farms in Rusape saw a local farming family come under siege, with two people being assaulted by a mob of land invaders,” AllAfrica reported.
In 2008, the South African Development Community (SADC) ruled that land grabbing was unlawful, but this was largely ignored. Under the guise of land “reform,” the attacks have intensified.
“The ongoing land attacks have also left tens of thousands of people unemployed, as farm workers and their families have also been forced to leave the properties along with their employers. The General Agriculture and Plantation Workers Union reported last year that more than 60,000 people have been left destitute as a direct result of the land grab initiative in 2009, since the attacks began in earnest last February. The figure adds to the already crippling unemployment rate of more than 94% in the country. But despite this, there has been no effort by either the unity government or by SADC to stop the attacks that are having such far flung implications for the country” (ibid.).
In this technologically advanced world, most are unaware that a prosperous society does not hinge on acquiring gadgets, vehicles or other luxury items. Rather, a significant indicator of a healthy society is the stability of the family unit.
As small farms vanish from the countryside, with them disappears one of the best environments capable of producing strong, character-driven families. This—building strong character—is the most tragic loss as family farming dies out.
Over centuries, an agricultural lifestyle presented favorable conditions for the mental development of children because it exposed them to an immense variety of stimuli. It allowed them to channel their boundless energy in helping parents care for animals, collect eggs, grow vegetables and harvest grain.
For adults, farm life provided a slower pace, with time to think. Built into the occupation was a healthier diet and workout routine. Life in the fields provided what Pulitzer-Prize-winning author and agriculturist Louis Bromfield called “the only profession in which man deals constantly with all the laws of the universe and life.”
Not until the Industrial Revolution did nations move from an agrarian society into ever-expanding metropolises. While this shift has provided many modern benefits, society has inadvertently lost the strong focus on the moral character, integrity and work ethic.
How can modern nations recapture the values once automatically instilled in children raised on the farm?
Individuals can fight against the general pull of the environment around them. But the only widespread solution would be a complete reset of today’s society, including its schools, cities, religions and governments.
In this “reset” society, family agriculture could regain great prominence. Cattle could feed in large unpolluted pastures. Regularly favorable weather conditions would provide a bumper crop, with continuous surpluses of food. In this society, there would be peace, with weapons of war converted to farm implements.
While this seems impossible—it is not!
One of the biggest receivers of our NEW DEAL working/middle-class wealth outside of 1% Wall Street are pawn shops. The pawn shop business has become so big these few decades that many are now branches of Wall Street investment firms. As citizens became unemployed----as wages fell----as housing was lost----there went the family JEWELRY HEIRLOOMS. One of my favorite family items were mother/ grandmother and great grandmother jewelry. I'm sure men have that same favorite jewelry from male family members.
The gold market soared because this coming economic crash will have no safe havens----stocks and bonds going down----so the global rich started buying our Federal gold reserves----down to our individual gold pieces-----literally like the Grinch and his bag filled with the biggest and the smallest treasures from Whoville.
Jewelry doesn't go with global sweat shop labor pool anyway say 1% Wall Street global corporate neo-liberals and neo-cons.
Cash for Gold: How to Sell Your Old Jewelry for the Best Price
Updated February 17, 2015 by Steve Gillman
Contributor Tiffa Day under Creative Commons
You’ve seen the commercials. “Sell your gold and silver for cash!” say smiling people, showing off checks they received in exchange for their old jewelry.
Sure, it’s great to get $700 for unused gold or silver items — unless you should have received twice that much! Ouch! The good news is that if you’re still holding on to items you’d like to sell, this guide can help you earn more money for your gold and silver.
Here are some of the things you might have at home that contain gold or silver:
- Wedding and engagement rings (gold)
- Class rings (gold)
- Necklaces (gold or silver)
- Miscellaneous jewelry (gold or silver)
- Tooth fillings that have fallen out (gold)
- Bullion bars or “rounds” (gold or silver)
- Silverware (silver)
- Old serving dishes (silver)
- Pre-1965 quarters and dimes (silver)
How to Sell Gold and Silver
While some people choose to send their items to one of the many buyers who advertise online or on television, many decide to sell them to a local buyer.
The advantage of selling locally is that you get your money much sooner — sometimes at the same time you receive the offer. Bring your gold and silver items to a precious metals buyer or coin shop. Many of them will test your jewelry’s gold or silver content right there, and offer you a price based on the amount of precious metal.
Selling to the national buyers who advertise on television and the Internet is a little trickier. Typically, these companies send you a mailing box or envelope to use to ship your items back to them. After a few days, they make an offer and either accept it, or decline. If you accept the offer, you get a check. If you decline it, the company will return your jewelry or bullion, but the postage is usually on you this time.
This process sounds simple enough, but a Kiplinger article on selling your gold notes that hundreds of complaints are filed each year with The Better Business Bureau against gold, silver and platinum dealers. Some companies send a check before you agree to their price, others assume you agree if you don’t respond quickly enough — and some don’t send the jewelry back or pay you.
Janet Fritz told Kiplinger about a small experiment she conducted that showed how some companies take advantage of uneducated sellers. She sent identical gold bands to nine different buyers. The best offer she received was 60% of “melt value” (the value of the gold in the item). The worst was just 9%!
To avoid these problems when selling your gold and silver, make sure to ask these three questions:
- How long do I have to make a decision on your offer?
- How will I get my jewelry or other objects back if you say no?
- What percentage of “melt value” do you pay?
The company may answer the last question with a range, since it costs more to recover the precious metals in some items, but if the company hesitates to give any answer, move on.
Before sending your jewelry to a company, research its reputation online. A bad review doesn’t always mean it’s a scam. For example, some sellers will inevitably complain because they didn’t understand that 10-karat gold is actually less than 50% bullion (more on that in a moment). On the other hand, if 20 out of 25 reviews are negative, you can probably find a better company to work with.
The best reviews are those that involve tests of companies using identical items. This feedback helps you discover which companies are difficult to deal with and which consistently pay the most.
Get the Best Price for Gold and Silver
You’ll find current gold and silver spot prices online, but only institutional sellers get the “spot price.” Why? Companies that buy your bullion or jewelry pay for advertising, overhead, melting jewelry, etc. — and they have to make a profit — so they buy below spot.
Many sources, including the Kiplinger article mentioned above, suggest that you should aim to get 90 to 95% of the spot price when selling gold and silver bars or coins, and 70 to 80% of melt value for jewelry and other items.
Find the Melt Value of Your Items
Buyers weigh gold and silver using troy ounces, which are equivalent to 31.1 grams. If you have solid silver or gold coins or bars, the weight will usually be noted on them.
Pure gold is too soft to be used in jewelry, so it’s mixed with other metals. To determine the “melt value,” you need to weigh the item and find its karat-mark (or have the piece tested). A karat is “a unit of measure for the fineness of gold, equal to 1/24 part.” This means your 12-karat gold band is 50% gold.
With the weight and purity (as measured by karats), you can find the metal or melt value using an online bullion value calculator. Use this melt value to determine if you’re being paid enough by the buyer.
Compare Prices From Multiple VendorsTo sell locally, go to coin shops. I’ve sold silver bars to a coin shop at the spot price. That’s unusual, but the owner sells them to other customers for $2 over spot, and at the time, he was short on inventory.
The possibility of visiting at the right time — when a vendor needs more of what you have to sell — makes it worth at least trying small vendors. Most coin shop owners I’ve queried pay 85 to 95% of the spot price. The heavily-advertised storefront silver and gold buyers I’ve called or visited paid from 60 to 70% for bars and one-ounce rounds, which is terrible.
To sell by mail, compare companies online. Where2SellGold.com does periodic reviews of many gold buyers. In a recent test, they sent 10.5 grams of 14-karat gold to seven different buyers and received offers that ranged from $188.93 to as low as $87.87. Another test they did in 2012 yielded an incredible range of offers, from $237.50 down to $48.96!
They also note how long it took for requested “gold packs” (the mailers you use to send your gold) to arrive, and how long it took to get their gold back when they refused an offer. Not too surprisingly, the companies paying the least tended to take longer to return the gold.
Make Sure the Jewelry Isn’t Valuable
Before you send any jewelry off to be melted down, first determine if it’s worth more than the melt value of the silver or gold. Get an appraisal or ask a used jewelry dealer how much he’ll pay for your things. Who knows, you may have an antique on your hands!
Once you’re sure your items are worth no more than their melt value, here’s a four-step process to get the most money when cashing in your gold and silver:
- Determine your items’ worth. Find the karat-markings, weigh the items and calculate the melt value.
- Visit a local coin shop or two to see how much they’ll pay for your items.
- Find comparison-reviews of silver and gold buyers online. If the company seems reputable, request a mailer from whichever one has been paying the highest prices.
- Sell your items to the local shop, or send them to your chosen company. Accept the offer if it’s a reasonable percentage of the melt value.
Watch as the next thing to go to the real estate grab -----the storage businesses built to downsize our American NEW DEAL working and middle-class.
I look at what is a great big storage building in what will become a very rich community in Baltimore City center. There were rumors for years it would close and it will ----as 99% of people soon will have nothing to store. Below we see where the storage market is going-----
Seems Insane! These NYC Storage Units Cost More Than An Apartment
MakeSpace|July 8, 2015
|In today’s coverage of costly NYC luxury apartment amenities, we bring you this Bloomberg video of not-cheap Manhattan storage:
93Worth (pictured above) is home to 85 gorgeous condos, seven grand penthouses (one of which is on sale for $9.9 million according to StreetEasy), and something that reflects not only the soaring prices of NYC real estate, but also just how much some of New York’s wealthiest are willing to spend on a small space to store their prized possessions:
Storage units that cost more than an apartment.
Eldad Blaustein, CEO of IGI-USA, told Bloomberg that he recently sold a 4-foot-by-8-foot steel storage cage in 93Worth for $65,000.
That’s $2,031.25 per square foot, higher than the price per square foot that people have paid for some of the building’s apartments. It’s also $668.25 higher than the $1,363 average cost per square foot of a Manhattan apartment.
“Once they move in, they figure out they need more space. So we charge them more,” said Blaustein.
Insane? Yes. But a drop in the bucket for the tenants who pay sky-high prices to live in the 17-story 93Worth building that gives you panoramic views of Tribeca’s vibrant neighborhood.
If any 93Worth residents are reading this, you could shell out $65,000 to carry heavy boxes to and from your storage unit. Or spare $29/month for your own personal valet storage AKA MakeSpace. We’ll pick up, store, and deliver your stuff straight to your door while you funnel the tens of thousands of dollars in change into your other wise investments.
As WE THE PEOPLE fight to reverse ONE WORLD third world policies and rebuild our US cities with local, small businesses and small business manufacturing with REAL mixed income housing in each community----we must think about how we are spending our money----think about the future---our family's and their g families.
PLEASE STOP BEING THE DISPOSABLE GENERATIONS----VALUE PURCHASES AND TREASURE FAMILY HEIRLOOMS!
All of these donations whether furniture or cloths is making its way overseas to developing nations----as the US sinks to being that developing nation.
This is a long article but please glance through to see how our personal wealth tied to possessions are misdirecting our wealth assets.
The Self-Storage Self
By JON MOOALLEMSEPT. 2, 2009
Inside self-storage units at three facilities in Santa Rosa, Calif. Credit Tim Davis for The New York Times
Statewide Self Storage spreads out near Highway 4 in Antioch, Calif., a suburban community between San Francisco and Sacramento. It’s a phalanx of long, low-slung buildings separated by wide driveways and lined with red doors. The complex houses 453 storage units and is wedged between a car dealership and a Costco.
It was the last afternoon in May, and the sun seared all the concrete and corrugated steel. Statewide’s gate opened, and a man named Jimmy Sloan made for the far corner of the property. Sloan, who dresses and styles his hair like James Dean, is a part-owner of the Harley-Davidson repair shop nearby. He rolled open the door of a 10-by-30-foot unit, the largest Statewide offers. It was his ex-fiancée’s, but still leased under his name, and packed with, among other things, a particleboard shelving unit, some wicker items, a microwave oven, a box labeled “Mickey’s Hornet Neon,” a floor lamp, a television and a wooden child’s bed standing on its end on a desk. It was hard to tell how deep the inventory went. “She hasn’t seen most of this stuff in six years,” Sloan said.
For five years, he stored most of it above the garage of his house. But he had to borrow on the house to keep the bike shop running, and last year, feeling in over his head, he opted to sell the house and downsize before he fell behind and risked foreclosure. “Pretty much got out of that house at zero — didn’t make a penny on it,” he told me with the kind of ascetic pride that wouldn’t have made any sense before our economically crippled era. Sloan’s fiancée insisted he rent a storage unit and move everything over the garage into it for her. So he did. Then they split up.
He kept paying the rent on the unit for almost a year — $217 every month. But Sloan finally lost his patience and told her: “You know, we’re not even together anymore. This stuff’s gotta go.” Everything here, he told me, was worth less than what he had paid to store it. “Storage is always a bad investment, any way you look at it,” he said. The rent was her responsibility now. But the former future Mrs. Jimmy Sloan never paid Statewide. By now, it seemed likely that the managers would end up auctioning off the contents of the unit in accordance with state law.
That was fine with Jimmy Sloan. But he wanted to get in first and make sure that his late father’s collection of hunting knives and die-cast toy tractors, which he’d lost track of, weren’t mixed in there. And so, to regain access, he’d just walked into the office and paid Statewide what was owed: $460. He’d counted out the cash unresentfully, like a man retrieving his dog from a neighbor’s house for the 10th or 11th time.
“That stuff is Happy Meal junk,” he now said, pointing to a see-through Rubbermaid bin in the storage unit’s brickwork of boxes. It was full of brightly colored plastic toys and a pair of hot pink sunglasses that belonged to his ex-fiancée’s children. “The kids broke it, played with it once. It wasn’t even for Christmas,” he said.
Sloan had not started rummaging for his dad’s knife and tractor collections in earnest: he was still pecking at the concretion’s surface, not tunneling into it. But already he’d found a Marilyn Monroe poster and a souvenir road sign for James Dean Boulevard and set them near the door. They were his, from his old living room. He had forgotten about them and wanted to take them home.
Soon, he peeled back the top of a huge bin. Inside, I could see a VHS cassette of “American Pie” and a black-and-white toy football with the logo of the Oakland Raiders. “Look at that!” Sloan said suddenly. “A Raider football!” He put it next to the poster and the road sign. Apparently it, too, was just appealing enough to hang on to.
The Self Storage Association, a nonprofit trade group, estimates that since the onset of the recession, occupancies at storage facilities nationwide are down, on average, about 2 or 3 percent. It’s not a cataclysmic drop but enough to disorient an industry that has always considered itself recession-resistant, if not outright recession-proof — so unstoppable that even having to engage in basic Marketing 101 stuff, like lowering prices, has struck some operators as a comedown. “I feel so dirty,” one manager wrote in the online forum of the trade magazine Inside Self-Storage. He had just started a promotion: a $20 move-in special. “Now I need to go shower again,” he added. A survey by BMO Capital Markets earlier this year showed that more than 80 percent of storage places nationwide were offering free rent for a month or more.
The down economy has clearly created circumstances in which some people desperately need to rent storage units — namely, people losing their homes. But more significantly, it seems to be upsetting a longstanding equilibrium — a kind of psycho-financial inertia that has kept so many tenants in place.
“Human laziness has always been a big friend of self-storage operators,” Derek Naylor, president of the consultant group Storage Marketing Solutions, told me. “Because once they’re in, nobody likes to spend all day moving their stuff out of storage. As long as they can afford it, and feel psychologically that they can afford it, they’ll leave that stuff in there forever.” Now, though, “there are people who are watching their credit-card bills closer than before,” he said. “They’re really paying attention to the stuff they’re storing and realizing that it’s probably not worth $100 a month to keep. So they just get rid of it.”
After a monumental building boom, the United States now has 2.3 billion square feet of self-storage space. (The Self Storage Association notes that, with more than seven square feet for every man, woman and child, it’s now “physically possible that every American could stand — all at the same time — under the total canopy of self-storage roofing.”) According to the Self Storage Association, one out of every 10 households in the country rents a unit, making facilities like Statewide among our last national commons — places where nearly every conceivable kind of American still goes.
But the collapsing economy created an opportunity, and in some cases an ultimatum, for Americans to reassess the raft of obligations and the loads of stuff we accumulated before things went wrong. We’ve been making difficult decisions, and for a lot of us, that has involved rolling up the door of a storage unit and carting property in or out. The storage industry’s expansion in the first flush years of this decade was both enabled by, and helped enable, the extreme consumption that defined America then. The people coming through the gates now are defining who we will be when this turmoil is over.
The first modern self-storage facilities opened in the 1960s, and for two decades storage remained a low-profile industry, helping people muddle through what it terms “life events.” For the most part, storage units were meant to temporarily absorb the possessions of those in transition: moving, marrying or divorcing, or dealing with a death in the family. And the late 20th century turned out to be a golden age of life events in America, with peaking divorce rates and a rush of second- and third-home buying. At the same time, the first baby boomers were left to face down the caches of heirlooms and clutter in their parents’ basements.
But by the end of the ’90s, there seemed to be almost limitless, pent-up demand for storage around the country, more than life events readily explained. Storage was seen as an invincible investment and became the go-to solution for developers with awkward, leftover scraps of land. After an industry report found that Hawaii ranked among the states with the least amount of storage space in the nation, storage barons rushed in, almost doubling the available square footage there between 2004 and 2007. One man converted a network of caves on Oahu, used to house munitions during World War II, into a storage facility. (The caves are naturally climate-controlled, perfect for wine.) Around the United States, newcomers to the industry were building even against the advice of their expert consultants. “We were cranking these things out at exponential rates,” an industry veteran named Tom Litton told me. “It was just nuts.”
Litton’s parents owned one of the earliest storage facilities, in Tucson. He now has two of his own, both in California, and manages 23 others. Among the ones he built and has since sold is a stunning 1,000-unit glass-fronted complex in Antioch. It could pass for a small corporate headquarters and is one of seven storage facilities within five miles of Statewide in either direction along Highway 4.
Across America, from 2000 to 2005, upward of 3,000 self-storage facilities went up every year. Somehow, Americans managed to fill that brand-new empty space. In June, Public Storage, the industry’s largest chain, reported that its 2,100 facilities in 38 states were, on average, still about 91 percent full. It raises a simple question: where was all that stuff before?
“A lot of it just comes down to the great American propensity toward accumulating stuff,” Litton explained. Between 1970 and 2008, real disposable personal income per capita doubled, and by 2008 we were spending nearly all of it — all but 2.7 percent — each year. Meanwhile, the price of much of what we were buying plunged. Even by the early ’90s, American families had, on average, twice as many possessions as they did 25 years earlier. By 2005, according to the Boston College sociologist Juliet B. Schor, the average consumer purchased one new piece of clothing every five and a half days.
Schor has been hacking intrepidly through the jumble of available data quantifying the last decade’s consumption spree. Between 1998 and 2005, she found, the number of vacuum cleaners coming into the country every year more than doubled. The number of toasters, ovens and coffeemakers tripled. A 2006 U.C.L.A. study found middle-class families in Los Angeles “battling a nearly universal overaccumulation of goods.” Garages were clogged. Toys and outdoor furniture collected in the corners of backyards. “The home-goods storage crisis has reached almost epic proportions,” the authors of the study wrote. A new kind of customer was being propelled, hands full, into self-storage.
“A lot of the expansion we experienced as an industry was people choosing to store,” Litton told me. A Self Storage Association study showed that, by 2007, the once-quintessential client — the family in the middle of a move, using storage to solve a short-term, logistical problem — had lost its majority. Fifty percent of renters were now simply storing what wouldn’t fit in their homes — even though the size of the average American house had almost doubled in the previous 50 years, to 2,300 square feet.
Consider our national furniture habit. In an unpublished paper, Schor writes that “anecdotal evidence suggests an ‘Ikea effect.’ ” We’ve spent more on furniture even as prices have dropped, thereby amassing more of it. The amount entering the United States from overseas doubled between 1998 and 2005, reaching some 650 million pieces a year. Comparing Schor’s data with E.P.A. data on municipal solid waste shows that the rate at which we threw out old furniture rose about one-thirteenth as fast during roughly the same period. In other words, most of that new stuff — and any older furniture it displaced — is presumably still knocking around somewhere. In fact, some seven million American households now have at least one piece of furniture in their storage units. Furniture is the most commonly stored thing in America.
The marketing consultant Derek Naylor told me that people stockpile furniture while saving for bigger or second homes but then, in some cases, “they don’t want to clutter up their new home with all the things they have in storage.” So they buy new, nicer things and keep paying to store the old ones anyway. Clem Tang, a spokesman for Public Storage, explains: “You say, ‘I paid $1,000 for this table a couple of years ago. I’m not getting rid of it, or selling it for 10 bucks at a garage sale. That’s like throwing away $1,000.’ ” It’s not a surprising response in a society replacing things at such an accelerated rate — this inability to see our last table as suddenly worthless, even though we’ve just been out shopping for a new one as though it were.
“My parents were Depression babies,” Litton told me, “and what they taught me was, it’s the accumulation of things that defines you as an American, and to throw anything away was being wasteful.” The self-storage industry reconciles these opposing values: paying for storage is, paradoxically, thrifty. “That propensity toward consumption is what fueled the world’s economy,” Litton said. The self-storage industry almost had to expand; it grew along with the volume of container ships reaching our ports. (Some storage facilities I visited in California are, in fact, made of shipping containers, which became surplus goods themselves as our trade deficit grew.)
By 2007, a full 15 percent of customers told the Self Storage Association they were storing items that they “no longer need or want.” It was the third-most-popular use for a unit and was projected to grow to 25 percent of renters the following year. The line between necessity and convenience — between temporary life event and permanent lifestyle — totally blurred.
“There’s a lot of junk stored in our properties,” Ronald L. Havner Jr., Public Storage’s chief executive, told a symposium in New York in June. Walking through his company’s facilities around the country, he explained, “I’ve sometimes said that we could put a torch to this building and it would have zero effect on the local economy — because that’s how much junk is stored in our properties.”
Havner added that he believed all of this “non-economic use” had been flushed out by the recession — that the dips in occupancy industrywide could be attributed to these customers’ wising up and leaving. But really, there’s no way of knowing exactly who is still out there, what they’ve got locked up and how they feel about it — and, more important, how those complicated feelings might change if the psychology of the American consumer is substantially reshaped in a recovery.
Tom Litton, for example, still keeps four storage units himself, at two facilities, all of them 10-by-30 units. I asked what’s inside. “I have a canoe, I have a vending machine, I have a drill press,” Litton began. His old lawn mower was in one. (He got a bigger, riding lawn mower when he bought a ranch in wine country.) “I’ve got some of my old clothes that I probably wouldn’t wear anyway,” he continued, and some trophies from college. “I also have some old cassette tapes that I produced.”
In Santa Rosa, Calif., acres hold what we cannot part with. Credit Tim Davis for The New York Times
The cassettes are like audiobooks, he explained — tutorials on how to get into the storage industry and succeed. He made them before the storage-facility building boom ended a couple of years ago. “They didn’t sell,” Litton said, “so they’re all in storage now.”
One afternoon in late May, a woman slouched inside one of Statewide’s narrow hallways, reorganizing the innards of her unit. She said her name was Elizabeth — no last name given, since, as she told me, “this is not a high-self-esteem moment.”
Most everything here belonged to Elizabeth’s parents, who entered assisted living last year, and she needed to clear it out to cut expenses. She was keeping an eye out for particular family memorabilia, but otherwise it was a long, beleaguering purge. “Just stuff? Like my mother’s kitchen stuff?” she told me. “Whatever.”
Boxed haphazardly inside the closet-size space was, as she put it, 53 years of married life. An empty pill bottle and an egg carton lingered on the little bit of visible floor space. “I got rid of all the furniture,” Elizabeth said, except her own drafting table, which, she pointed out, had wound up against the rear wall. She was an architect, accomplished but out of work (“Architecture is dead, dead, dead, dead,” she explained) and was attacking this project with a conspicuously architect-ish methodology.
She had brought with her dozens of new, perfectly uniform white boxes, each bearing the Harry Potter logo in one of several colors. They lined the hallway behind her, still flattened. “When the books come out, there’s just hundreds and hundreds of these boxes at every bookstore,” she said. “I just went around and got them.” She repacked and erected a tidy column of Harry Potter boxes in one corner of the unit. She turned a few others, tops folded inward, into a kind of bookshelf. “This was when ‘The Half-Blood Prince’ came out,” Elizabeth said. “They stack really nicely.”
She was going to transfer these boxes, full of the few things worth saving, into a storage unit she recently rented in a nearby town. That unit housed most of what Elizabeth owned. Forced to leave her parents’ old house and unable to afford a place of her own, she had moved in with a friend about eight months ago. As far as the storage industry was concerned, then, all the contemporaneous chaos of Elizabeth’s and her parents’ lives ultimately amounted to a wash: one old unit was being vacated, one new one was being rented.
In fact, since last year, owners around the country have reported quickening rates of both move-outs and move-ins, making any occupancy rate — the industry’s fundamental yardstick — feel kind of arbitrary, like the momentary averaging-out of a blur of activity, with no single, dominant trend (or maybe even logic) behind it. At Statewide, for example, those like Elizabeth renting smaller units — traditionally the backbone of the business — have been steadily leaving. “All I hear is, ‘I can’t afford it anymore,’ ” says Joe Dopart, who manages Statewide along with his daughter Amy and his wife, Evie, a retired schoolteacher. Renters tell the Doparts they’ll find a relative’s garage in which to keep their yearbooks, winter clothes or extra mattresses. Or they dump what they don’t need and downsize into a smaller, cheaper unit. (“To me,” Dopart told me, lowering his voice, “most of the stuff is just junk.”) At the same time, though, Statewide’s larger units — mostly empty for years — are now completely full. “Every single one, practically, has a foreclosure in it,” Amy told me. Others were being rented by endangered businesses, like a coffee shop and a tea room whose owners were forced to shutter their storefronts in Antioch’s struggling historic downtown and move everything into storage while they plotted their next moves.
The upshot, while this traffic runs both ways in the background, is that Statewide has remained about 88 percent full — about two or three points lower than last summer, right in line with the national estimate. But that may obscure a more meaningful shift. By shaking up the composition of renters, and their reasons for renting, the recession could be quietly tilting the character of American storage closer to what it was originally: a pragmatic solution to a sudden loss of space, rather than a convenient way of dealing with, or putting off dealing with, an excess of stuff.
Of course, some people don’t fit entirely into one category or the other. Brad Molakides, who wound up with a mortgage on a three-bedroom house he never could have afforded, had just handed back his keys when I found him unloading a rental truck at Statewide not too long ago. Molakides, a fast-talking man with longish white hair who installs wireless equipment for Alcatel-Lucent, had vacated the house hastily and was now dealing with his last random, ungainly assets. He had spilled over into a second 10-by-10 unit, and it was stocked mostly with tools in giant metal carts. Far behind those, rubber garbage cans were stacked two-high. Those, Molakides told me, were his recyclables. “I got plastic bottles in one, and the other is aluminum cans.” They had collected in his backyard and he had never gotten around to redeeming them for the deposits. Now they would be marooned in the very rear of his storage unit.
I found people who had been foreclosed on at most of the storage places I hung around at, and I met many more who were forced to walk away from places they were renting. Among them were two teenage brothers, Luis Jaramillo and Nikolas Aceves, in the city of Stockton, an hour from Sacramento, whose family was about to scatter to relatives’ houses in surrounding towns. And Jason Williams, a 38-year-old father of three who was filling a unit with furniture before he and his family moved in with his stepmother. Williams’s wages at a commercial printing house had just been cut; one of the plant’s four presses had been dedicated, virtually 24/7, to printing Circuit City circulars before the retailer’s bankruptcy, he explained.
On one of my first mornings at Statewide, Evie Dopart introduced me to Danielle Johnson, who resembled a spunkier, smaller Demi Moore and who pulled her rent from a purse shaped like an old-school Nintendo controller. “She’s our most beautiful customer,” Evie gushed, yentalike, after Johnson walked through the office door.
Johnson worked at Dollar Tree and was also studying criminal justice. After her husband left to serve in Iraq, she couldn’t afford the rent on their house in Oakland. So she locked everything but her clothes and schoolbooks in storage and moved in with her grandma. “It’s O.K.,” she assured me, “I’ll get another one someday.” She meant another house.
That was a year ago. Her husband was now stationed in Kentucky, but if Johnson pulled out of school to join him, she would have to repay her student loans immediately and would end up with nothing. “Well,” she told me, “I’m just going to finish, and I’ll have my degree. He can wait.” She seemed incapable of not putting a good face on the situation.
“Actually,” she told me and Evie, “it’s kind of cool living with Grandma. Home-cooked meals are awesome, and no one makes them like Grandma does.”
“Your family’s Italian, right?” Evie asked.
“No, we’re redneck, though,” Johnson said with a big smile. “And I mean rednecks make some really good food. Gosh! My grandma’s biscuits and gravy are screaming.”
Virtually no one I asked, at any level of the business, took seriously the idea that this recession would produce a sea change in who uses self-storage and why. In an industry whose freewheeling success has been so closely tied to the evolving character and prosperity of our society, it can be hard to even talk about storage’s future without getting philosophical or patriotic.
“I really think there’s a spirit that things will turn around,” Jim Chiswell, a Virginia-based consultant to the industry, told me. “I believe that my children — and both my children are proving it already — they’re going to have more at the end of their lifetimes, and more success, than I’ve had. And so will their children. I don’t believe the destiny of this country as a beacon of freedom and hope is over. And I believe there will be more growth, and more people wanting to have things and collect things.”
Tom Litton put it another way: “The good news is that your age group” — I’m 31 — “has the same propensity for accumulating crap that I have. You guys got introduced to it in college, and you actually think you really need storage. You see storage the way that we all see cable and Internet access.”
The truth is, there is no typical storage customer. As facilities crowded into the landscape, storage units became incubators for small businesses and artisans; warehouses for pharmaceutical reps, eBay merchants or landscapers. One unit at Statewide, the Doparts told me, functions as a kind of regional distribution center for Little Debbie cakes. I met a few homeless renters, who sometimes choose to pay to put a roof over their possessions instead of their own heads (living in units is not allowed); I met working-class renters using units as closets and safe-deposit boxes while serially couch-surfing or living in multifamily homes. I heard of a martial-arts instructor in Hawaii who trained clients in his unit, and a group of husbands in New England who watch sports in one on weekends. More than one operator told me they have a unit where, every morning, the renter goes in dressed as a man and comes out as a woman.
Maybe the recession really is making American consumers serious about scaling back, about decluttering and de-leveraging. But there are upward of 51,000 storage facilities across this country — more than seven times the number of Starbucks. Storage is part of our national infrastructure now. And all it is, is empty space: something Americans have always colonized and capitalized on in good times, and retreated into to regroup when things soured. It’s tough to imagine a product more malleable to whatever turns our individual life stories take, wherever we’re collectively heading.
But where are we now? Of all the storage units I toured, one sticks out as being most emblematic of this particular moment. It belonged to Terry Wallace, a 59-year-old veteran with white streaks in his hair and a broad, shaggy moustache who, when I stumbled across his 10-by-30 at a Storage PRO in Stockton, was sitting in a leather office chair, working at his desk under the open door, like a notary in a storefront.
Some open mail and a Herman Wouk novel were pushed aside, and the desk was covered with stacks of quarters, the ones celebrating the 50 states. Wallace was sorting them, state by state, into empty prescription-pill bottles. “I’ve got ’em all,” he said, astounded. “I’ve got all 50.” Then he invited me in.
A folded-up Nordic Track leaned against the desk, and a bucket of fire axes sat behind him. (After serving as a helicopter mechanic in Vietnam, Wallace worked as a back-country firefighter in Yosemite.) But otherwise, the unit looked warehouselike. Stacked, labeled boxes stretched down either side of the deep, rectangular space with a snug but passable aisle between.
This was everything Wallace owned, except the truck parked outside. A year ago, he was living in an apartment in Carson City, Nev., funneling the entire $1,200 he collected in retirement benefits and disability directly into his rent and alimony payments every month. “So I started doing a lot of credit-card stuff,” he said. Soon he was $30,000 in debt.
Wallace hated living in a city anyway, “so because of my debt crisis and my marriage crisis and everything, I moved everything into storage and I just live out of my truck,” he told me, resting his hands on his gut. That was June 15, 2008. At first, he rented a second unit across the way and spent a few months sorting, giving away items he didn’t need to an organization for homeless veterans. “You can call me homeless,” he told me. “But I’m not goofing around. I’ve got money, but I just want to get this debt down.”
It was like a cleansing: the storage unit cost about $200 a month. But aside from gas, truck payments and food (he had several boxes of meals-ready-to-eat stocked here), it was his only major expense. He had cut out rent, cable, phone and electricity, and purged all the unnecessary fees from his bank statements. For the last year, he had been camping a lot and driving around the West visiting ex-firefighter friends. He saw a woman in Antioch occasionally. “It’s feeling good,” he said, “and it’s working. That’s the thing: it’s working. Debts are down to almost zippo right now.” He figured he’d be done by Thanksgiving.
For a decade at least, storage has been a mechanism allowing Americans to live beyond our means. Wallace was using his unit as a center of gravity, to pull his financial life back within reach. He had even started saving, he told me, and was looking into a small condo in a suburb near Lake Tahoe. “It’s not my style or anything,” he said; he’d prefer something more secluded — bigger, and with land. “But I could do that.” He missed sleeping in his own bed.
He also missed his music collection — and the books and rare coins he had collected. Also, his pins. “Little pins, like flag pins,” he explained. “I’ve got veterans pins, and I’ve got Rose Parade pins, and pins that I got at fairs.” He missed his stuff. “Hey,” he said as I left. “I’ll call you when I’m getting ready to load the truck.”
'Whites particularly see their economic futures deteriorating—63% called their families’ economic futures “poor.” In numbers that surpass government data, 76% of whites will face a year or more of economic insecurity by the time they’re 60. Minorities still face the greatest risk of falling into economic hardship and insecurity with 90% of nonwhites living near poverty in their lifetimes'.
When we see Federal stats saying poverty in America is surrounding 20%-----first, we know that poverty line has nothing to do with today's cost of living----$21,000 for a family of 4. What is true is 80% of Americans are hovering right at that poverty line. Then think about two things: this coming economic crash will be deep and long-term taking many US families that managed to survive the 2008 crash. Second, we know global corporate campuses and global factories and the SMART CITIES technology are geared to replace quite a large percentage of our workforce over these periods of depression. We are on a trajectory -----even without considering Trans Pacific Trade Pact or US cities deemed Foreign Economic Zones lowering wages in the US to that of overseas Foreign Economic Zones---to mass movement of US citizens into deep poverty. That is why 1% Wall Street is floating the BASIC INCOME through far-right Libertarians.
WE THE PEOPLE CAN REVERSE THIS EASY PEASY---WE SIMPLY NEED TO GET RID OF 1% WALL STREET GLOBAL CORPORATE PLAYERS. THIS 2016 ELECTION MATTERS! HILLARY/TRUMP SAME ONE WORLD MOVING FORWARD.
80% will experience some economic hardship
07/29/13 10:33 AM--Updated 09/13/13 08:47 AM
By Jane C. Timm
Mlissa Ruella and her son Randy, 3, wait in line for groceries at the Greater Waterbury Interfaith Ministries on May 20, 2013 in Waterbury, Connecticut....
Four out of five Americans will live near poverty, without work, or relying on welfare at least once during their lives, according to a new survey from the Associated Press.
The survey shows signs of a deteriorating economy, growing economic inequality, and a disappearing American dream, just as the president looks to re-energize his economic agenda and champion the middle class.
“This growing inequality is not just morally wrong, it’s bad economics,” President Obama said last week in Galesburg, Illinois. “When the rungs on the ladder of opportunity grow farther and farther apart, it undermines the very essence of America—that idea that if you work hard you can make it here.”
America’s wealth distribution looks like a lopsided ladder: The bottom 40% of the population owns just 0.3% of the nation’s wealth, while the top 20% has 84% of the nation’s wealth, according to a 2010 study on wealth distribution and balance.
According the latest Census, 46.2 million Americans—15% of the country—are poor. But the Associated Press/GFK survey notes that Census figures are a snapshot—they don’t account for those who shift in and out of near-poverty, welfare reliance, or unemployment. When those numbers are accounted for, the number of Americans who face such hardships surges to 79%.
The survey also found that the racial disparities in poverty are lessening: for the first time ever, the number of white, single moms living in poverty is equal to the number of impoverished black, single moms.
Whites particularly see their economic futures deteriorating—63% called their families’ economic futures “poor.” In numbers that surpass government data, 76% of whites will face a year or more of economic insecurity by the time they’re 60. Minorities still face the greatest risk of falling into economic hardship and insecurity with 90% of nonwhites living near poverty in their lifetimes.
“Income inequality has been growing for 20 years…It relates to a whole lot of factors from globalization, to liberalization of the way businesses can hire and fire,” he said. “Companies are at record profits and those profits are not being shared by the workers. The fact is that over the last three years, over a hundred percent of the income gains in this country went to the top one percent.”