Let's talk about collections

about me free advice musings Feb 19, 2020
A black vinyl record with an orange centre-label sits half outside a plain white sleeve. The background of the photo is mustard yellow.

Oh hi… Didn’t see you there while I was arranging my crystals (true story). Yep, I’m that person now – I have a collection of crystals and I have just one word about that: #obsessed. As I’ve been admiring them, I’ve been thinking about the various collections I’ve had over the years, and collections in general. I wanted to share some thoughts with you.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again:

  • I am not a minimalist. 

  • I have hobbies. 

  • I have stuff…. And collections. 

Would you like to know about some of the things I collect, or have collected in the past? I have a love affair with all things craft – I have collected knitting and crochet needles, sewing patterns, wool and fabric (this is affectionately called a “stash” in crafting circles). My husband and I are kind of nerdy; we have a Lego collection that would make a 7 year old blush. I went through a big colouring-in phase while I was pregnant with Otis, and have a beautiful collection of pens, pencils and books. And now, the crystals (#obsessed).  

So when does a group of items become a collection?

My definition of a collection is this: “A single category of items that hold functional, monetary or sentimental value.” The first part of that (“single category”) is important because it draws a boundary around the collection and stops random stuff from getting in. Example? The Lego collection is solely for Lego – I can’t go and put Otis’ favourite baby toys in there, as they are a completely separate category and so the collection wouldn’t make sense. 

The next part of the definition is value: 

  • Functional value: the value of the item is in its ability to do a job at some point in the future. E.g. My collection of sewing patterns. 

  • Monetary value: the value of the item is in its desirability to others, and the expectation that it will eventually be sold for a good price. E.g. Your “still in box” vintage toy collection. 

  • Sentimental value: the value of the item is in the memories it conjures. E.g. Your Nana’s hand-embroidered linen napkins. 

Functional value is where some people get caught up – holding onto things “just in case” they might use it. Here is the thing to remember about collections that hold functional value – they are 100% replaceable… You can always get your hands on more if you need them! The collection of batteries in your junk drawer? Replaceable. The 17 rulers you’ve collected from your 3 kids’ years at school? Replaceable. And most of the wool and fabric in my “stash”? Replaceable. I like to impose a time limit on those collections that hold functional value – it puts an end to that “just in case” mentality. I know I’ll sew again in the next 12 months, so it would be foolish to get rid of the sewing patterns. Will you need 17 rulers in the next few months? Probably not. See ya later, rulers.  

Monetary value is often based on assumption. You *think* your collection is worth something… why not do some research now? Get in touch with dealers, find similar collections on TradeMe and Ebay – if it is worth something right now then my recommendation is to sell, get your cash out and buy something that you want and will use right now

Sentimental value can be hard for so many people – I do a whole exercise on releasing sentimental items when I work with my clients. For those sentimental collections we really can’t part with, I love to recommend putting them to work. Nana’s napkins? Use them, and literally think happy Nana thoughts every time you set the table or wipe your mouth. Your matchbox car collection? Sounds like a funky piece of art to me. Get the picture? Your sentimental collections are serving no one at the bottom of a box – so if you aren’t going to use them, what is the point of keeping them?

Do you have a collection lurking in your home? If you need some help organising your collection, moving items on and out of your home, or brainstorming on how to put your sentimental stuff to work – book a call with me. I call it a clutter busting strategy session… It’s free of charge AND free of obligation, so you have nothing to lose (except your collection of half used matchboxes… I’ll definitely help you lose those)!

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