Design and home furnishing magazines are full of advice on downsizing or for simply streamlining your lifestyle if you are not ready to move to smaller quarters. If you are near retirement, you will do your children a favor by ridding the house of clutter that will be meaningless to them. For example, throw out the high school and college year books if none of your grandchildren will find them relevant.

Think of the guilt trips, passed down to successive generations, imposed by the prospect of getting rid of great-grand-dad’s beloved football jerseys and of his costumes from frat parties. Do your heirs a favor — clean house!

There are many charitable organizations in Middle Georgia that can benefit from extra furniture and from clothes that no longer fit. Alternative solutions are garage and estate sales which can assuage the pinch of giving away items that were at one time significant investments. In the last 20 years, consignment shops have become popular for people that are not interested in staging a sale of personal belongings. However, the concept of consigning one’s belongings to a shop for the purpose of selling them is still not fully understood, according to Terry Holland, owner of Time to Consign, located in the back of If It’s Paper, on Ingleside Avenue.

“People seem to be apprehensive about surrendering their belongings as if there will be no accountability or that they are just lost forever,” Holland said.

Those fears are unfounded if a shop is reputable; at Time to Consign, a written agreement is required; the owner of the consigned items has the right to set prices; the consignment fee or percentage is defined and the time the items are kept until prices are lowered is clearly understood by the consignee. Holland does give his input on what are reasonable prices for attracting buyers because “sometimes sentimentality can get in the way of realistic expectations,” he added. He also stresses that good consignment shops do not want items that have outlived their usefulness, i.e. furnishings that are ready for the landfill!

BENEFITS TO THE CONSIGNEE

Years of furnishing a home and of collecting accessories is a major financial investment, particularly if the homeowner has antique heirlooms or has amassed art objects over a period of years. In considering a smaller house or an apartment, only the most treasured pieces should go with you — there simply will not be the square footage or the wall space to accommodate everything. When you bought a lot of these collectibles, you surely heard, “this is a really good investment!” If that is true, recoup some of that investment with a sale or by consigning them or by doing both.

The return on a sale or on consignment merchandise is directly related to the demand for that merchandise. Sterling silver goblets and flat ware will sell well at an estate sale; the collectors in today’s market don’t care that newlyweds today prefer the simplicity of everyday stainless steel flatware and china — they collect the silver for its intrinsic beauty. However, there are expensive collectibles for which interest wanes if not sold in a particular market; think of old embroidered table and bed linens. Few people are interested in keeping them washed and ironed for the rare occurrence when they might be used.

The bottom line is, if you are moving, the popularity of an item cannot determine whether or not you sell it — if rarely used collectibles are still in your inventory, you will not have the room for them in a smaller space. The consensus among dealers and retailers of old furniture and accessories is that it is better to cut your losses, take the revenue from a sale or from consigned goods and spend it on something worthwhile to your age and stage in life. Some of the household necessities which are taken for granted can be surprisingly lucrative in the consignment marketplace.

Customers that frequent consignment shops are often looking for additional porcelains, crystal stemware or china to complete a set; second home owners are searching for furniture and accessories appropriate for a beach or mountain house. Don’t discard the remnants of the everyday china you started when you married; do not think the primitive table a family member gave you is worthless. These things can be reincarnated in a new environment by a buyer with different uses in mind.

Selling your possessions through a consignment shop puts all of your unused furnishings in one place, marketed effectively and with one person responsible for the sales, so the percentage taken by the consigner is well worth the relief from the frustrating task of selling pieces out of your garage with diminished results. And, best of all, you earn money for future investments.

WHY BUY FROM A CONSIGNMENT SHOP

As the consumer, the array of furniture and accessories in a consignment shop may be brand new. Collectors tire of their collections; houses are redecorated with new color schemes and different design concepts and you are the beneficiary of those changes. Handmade and custom needlepoint pillows with elaborate decorative trim are expensive in design boutiques and their charm never goes out of style.

Tastes change in the home furnishing industry which keeps the law of obsolescence alive – as new trends are introduced, customers want the latest colors and home fashions dictated by the industry. What is discarded by one person might be your favorite purchase for a lifetime – the perfect oriental runner for a hall, the lamp that fits just right for a bedside or the antique pine sideboard you need in a dining room – yes, you will find these items in consignment stores for a fraction of the price the former owner paid.

Many antique dealers in Macon will take furniture and accessories on consignment; however, the percentage charged the consignee is higher. The first priority for dealers is their own inventory and dealing with a few consignment items can be time consuming for care and moving. Antique malls which rent booths cater to their dealers; consigned items can take time and energy away from the dealers’ inventories. The answer is a dedicated consignment dealer — a win-win situation for the seller and the buyer.

Estate sales are a proficient way to pare down your furnishings for a move; after the rush of the sale is over, consider consigning the unsold furnishings to a shop with a broader customer base in a retail environment and eliminate some of the frustration of moving.