Monday, May 31, 2010

The Hoarder Question Continues to Haunt

A scene from last year's Main Street Street Sale: I bought nothing displayed on the four-door sedan!

A while back, I ruminated on the show Hoarders and whether or not I was turning into one. If you haven't seen the show, a crew of garbage collectors and therapists enter the homes of massive clutter freaks and gently try to help them get rid of ALL THAT STUFF. I must admit that I tend to watch it through my fingers and I seldom make it through an entire episode.

I watched a little bit of it today and I do feel for the clutter freaks. They're actually good people who are incapable of throwing things out. There's usually a sad back story to it all, typically involving a deceased parent or spouse that the hoarder misses terribly. As a result, they can't bring themselves to throw away a single receipt that belonged to them. It's painful stuff and guilty viewing to be sure.

I sent two garbage bags of baby clothes to Goodwill the other day. I somehow doubt we'll have a second bambino. If by some fluke we do, I'll just have to buy new clothes. I think that's a better solution than saving bins of clothes for a child that may never come. Please don't feel sad. I'm happy with our three-piece family right now and I'm not longing for more kids especially.

As for my thrifting obsession, I've decided that I've got to be increasingly selective and only buy things I truly love. The problem is that I love a lot of vintage things and as long as we're living in our little semi-detached house, we're rapidly running out of room. That's where the hoarding comes in. We still have boxes of stuff we never unpacked when we bought our house over ten years ago.

I guess I'm not as bad as the woman who has to sort through all of the bags of garbage, or crawl on the floor looking for beads, but I don't want the joy of thrifting to become a problem down the road. Maybe I'll limit myself to one good thrift a week and give everything I'm tempted to buy, a second thought.

Don't get me wrong. Thrifting is not the same thing as hoarding, but when you start collecting things, you could be in for clutter trouble down the road. Has the urge the thrift led to space issues for anyone out there?

Thanks for reading this and allowing me to share my neurotic ramblings.


  1. Erin I am so with you on this one! A few years ago I lived in a tiny duplex shared with my daughter. There was NO ROOM and I had to limit myself to my thrifting. I still went but had to be more selective. Now I live in a big house and I'm also trying to buy things for my online shop. Still I have told myself there is too much clutter and until I get is organized I must limit my buying! Its hard when I see a great bargain and know I can sell it. My biggest problem is dishes...I love them and use them for tablescaping but I am running out of places for them. I am trying really hard to limit my 'plate' addiction. Well a long answer but in a word...Yes, I have space issues! Hang in there and don't quit thrifting but limit your buying.

  2. I hear you!! I've been trying to do a bit of a clear out of some of my things, I have a new mantra "D I need it or will I use it"? If the answer is no I'm not going to buy it. If I don't already have a place for something or a use I'm just going to pass it up, I sold some bits and pieces on eBay and gave stacks of clothes to op shops, it feels good to know there aren't so many boxes of stuff in the cupboards :-)

  3. The answer is simple! A garage sale! I'm sure you have some stuff that you're not in love with....

    I got rid of a lot that way! I donate a lot too and sell some in my Etsy shop. :)

    I watched hoarders too last night...scary!

  4. You are so brave. I can't watch Hoarders because I get so darned impatient with not just the hoarders but the people who have put up with their home being invaded like it is. I'm afraid, I'd be having midnight bonfires in the backyard if I couldn't make my way down the hall to my room or if I had to eat in some of those kitchens.

    Anyway, yes, I'm a thrifting junkie as well. But I stay organized and I purge 1 or 2 X a year. You can't let it get the better of you!

  5. What an interesting pudding! I like both avocado and prunes; but together? And with chocolate? Hmmmm!

    But I do believe you when you say it's good. I love stewed prunes in my brownies!

  6. You all that Pyrex I've bought over the last month or so? Nowhere to go with it! It's in my family room and my office and on my plant stand. Yikes.

    Re the baby clothes donation, I sold most of mine at garage sales and although it was nice to clear out, there were always a few tears as I set them out.

    Sandy, thanks for the comment on my avocado/prune/chocolate pudding recipe! I had to smile when I saw that here. :)

  7. I agree that it's hard when you find great things thrifting to pass them up! But to prevent myself from ever crossing the line between collecting and hoarding, I make sure to go through my things about once a month and sell or donate what I don't need or use. That way, there's room for thrifted goods and I can pass on great things to others :)


  8. I felt like I was getting out of control, but then again I'm a minimalist by nature & literally feel like I'm suffocating when there's 'too much' in my home. It's just so easy to buy when the price is right & you don't know when{if ever} you'll run across such treasures again..

  9. There's always that fragile balance between finding great things at great prices and buying what you truly love - one is a like a hobby or obsession and the other is like collecting. It's hard. I was going crazy with Value Village but have tried limiting myself to once a month and yes, only buying what I truly love and what I'm going to use. And I found that purging can be just as addictive too.


  10. I am totally with you on the thrifting and I am constantly trying to find places to put all my treasures. It is the only thing I miss about the bigger house we used to have. Sure all that storage space leads to more and more clutter but it is such wonderfull, treasure filled clutter! I am also a big believer in re using and re purposing things so.. its hard for me to get rid of stuff I am sure I will be able to use someday! My husband just sadly shakes his head at some of the things he finds. :) oh well, I am not at the hoarding stage yet since I make myself go through things constantly amd I LOVE finding ways to make everything usefull.

  11. I am so close to being called a hoarder. I prefer being called a packrat or collector, but it is getting out of control. My mother was a packrat, I think it is inherited, the tendency to keep everything. I really want to get everything cleared out, but then my health gets in the way, I just don't have the energy to do it. I need to make myself do a bit every day. I can sell some at our booth, and also have a garage sale. I too cringe when I have to watch Hoarders. It is too close to home. Enjoyed reading your post although it was painful too!

  12. I have three ex-friends (not related to each other) who are shopaholics, thrifters, dumpster divers and hoarders. One of them is as extreme as the ones featured on the show, "Hoarders" and "Hoarders - Buried Alive", the other two are on their way becoming one. They have emotional issues that they refuse to deal with and they can't see what hoarding do to themselves and their loved ones. It isn't just emotional problems that they have, it's also psychological. They blame everybody for their problems instead of taking responsibility for themselves. Sadly, their hoarding problem was the big elephant in the living room that no body wanted to talk about. I couldn't stand it anymore as the hoarding got so out-of-control that it affected their relationship with their loved ones and me. I did my best to be diplomatic when talking about it and even offered to help them to get organized and clean up the mountains of garbage, rotten food and stuff. They refused and became so unpleasant and hostile that they stopped inviting me over. After many years of being a supportive friend, I have to end our friendships or I'll drown along with them. So watching Hoarders brought back the bad memories.

  13. I get this I really do. And sheesh, Ive kind of been there too. At one point I had more money to go estate saling and I went every week end. And than I started to try and sell some of it because I had too much and when I couldn't sell it for as much as I paid - I was like - omg, I'm paying people so I can yard sale? And then I dunno, I really havent been able to go. And I hate that so much. Part of them fun is in the going.

    Once a year I really do declutter and get rid of alot. But at that time I always say, why did I spend the money.

    I guess its a complicated question with a lot of answers...

  14. You're not rambling, you're sharing your thoughts! Yes, I wonder what vintage pieces have seen and heard.

  15. I too have recently wondered if I have the potential to become a "hoarder". But I do use everything I buy, granted, rotating things constantly. And right now my basement is a mess. But it's fun to go down there and find something I haven't had out in a while - it's like free shopping in a store where you love everything you see!!
    I have a couple of friends who love to come here and see what I've done with my decor lately. Of course there are also those who just don't "get" it.
    And P.S. my house is not filthy or cluttered like those poor souls on the TV show.
    And as for those unpacked boxes - I had 3 boxes of Christmas stuff that I hadn't opened in 4 or 5 years. I held my breath and took them all to Goodwill without opening. And you know what? I feel great and I don't miss whatever-was-in-them.

  16. hoarding crosses over in psychological when it starts to interfere with or cause problems in your life - for example, spending food money on stuff, living in filth, etc. I watch those shows and some of those people I just want to grab and shake them - but it is so obvious that they are sick, I mean, look how they are living! I watched one where some lady collected food, and thought it was ok to eat expired stuff as long as the container wasn't puffed up - she had rotten food and rotten pumpkins all over her house - and they had to fight with her to throw some of it out, even as the pumpkin was being scooped up with a shovel, she was digging thru the rotten stuff for the seeds. Imagine the smell in that house - these are definitely sick people. I suppose one could have the illness in degrees. I have a friend who can't throw things away, she still has cancelled checks from the 1980s. I have tried to help her clean up, watching her go thru a pile of old reciepts is torture, she just cannot make a decision about what to keep and what should go.


About Me

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I'm a slightly off-beat Toronto-area teacher who enjoys writing and photography. I come from a family of collectors and now I'm dragging my own family around to yard sales. It's just a bit of fun. Enjoy the scenes.