Evolution of an Antique Dealer - Hoarder or Inventory Manager?

I won't kid you - I'm overweight. Who isn't? From as little as 10 pounds to as much as 200 pounds! Guess that's why we're considered the fattest society ever. So much for the 'good life'. Relative to that thought - a funny thing happened to me recently...

A couple of weeks ago I got a haircut. Just a trim. About an inch off. I walked out of the salon feeling much lighter. Yet I didn't notice that 3 pound weight gain from last month! Then again, a few days after the haircut, a neighbor asked to borrow the laundry room key to have a copy made. As soon as I took that one key off my keychain, my purse felt noticeably lighter! How is that possible!!!!

It made me think about all those other things we don't notice and let slide rather than 'feel' or 'see' the difference. I'm sure every single dealer on Ruby Lane has told themselves that they will not buy one more thing unless they've sold something or given something away. And how many times did each of you break that vow?

My oldest dealer friend (85 years) who is still going to her shop every single day, by the way, says it is impossible to stop buying in this business. She says it is necessary to keep the shop 'fresh'. She, of all my dealer friends has managed to keep her business totally separate from her home. When you walk into her house it is spare and neat - everything in its place - lots of 'white' space. Her tiny shop feels full but not stuffed - again, everything in its place. But she is a rare bird indeed. Most other dealers I know have walls of boxes in their living rooms, styrofoam peanuts floating free, a narrow pathway from room to room carved out of their hoard. Not quite like the hoards you see on that TV show, but still a hoard to most 'normal' folks. I call it inventory. When was the last time you were able to have impromptu guests enter your place? I can't. I usually need a day or two to make the front rooms presentable and to clear off the sofa and coffee table. It doesn't help that my photo 'studio' is in my dining room!

My 'normal' means that every flat surface is covered with something. If not papers, then merchandise.

Sure, I had to load in 5,000 items from my brick and mortar shop when I closed it 5 years ago. Finding room for it all within my regular living space, which is a fraction of the shop space was no easy task. Since then I've sold about 1,000 of those items yet I don't have an inch of extra storage space. How can that be? Probably has something to do with the fact that I have probably purchased at least one item a week for the last 5 years -  you do the math!

Also, the difference between me and a hoarder such as you might see on that TV show is that my 'hoard' consists of valuable merchandise (inventory) and not just random "stuff." I don't have trouble letting go of an item as long as it is for a profit - even just a small one. To the outside world, however, I'm not so sure most folks would differentiate my clutter with that TV-style hoard.

Perhaps, like AA, the important difference is whether the clutter, of any quantity and composition, interferes in one's life and to what extent. If there is a good deal of balance, a fair share of detachment from the objects, and no banana peels on the floor, then perhaps it really is just 'normal' - at least for us dealers.

What do you think?

Barbara Jokel
That Was Then Antiques



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