No sooner did I put out my cry to the universe — “Help! I have to clear out my elderly parents’ stuffed-full house and I don’t know what to do with it all!” — than it answered.
My super-second-hand-sales-savvy friend Aaron LaPedis flew into town.
The author of “Garage Sale Millionaire” (Wiley) had come to Orlando to visit theme parks with his wife and 3-year-old son. I took it as a sign — divine deliverance. LaPedis graciously interrupted his adventures at The Happiest Place on Earth and squeezed in coffee with this neurotic home columnist between visits to Sea World and The Wizarding World of Harry Potter.
He swore he didn’t mind listening to me blubber about my home-life problems when he could be meeting Disney princesses at Epcot. That’s the kind of guy he is.
What’s more, the garage-sale guru slash art-gallery owner is just as at home at a high-end antiques auction as at a low-end yard sale. The Donald Trump describes him this way: “Aaron sees opportunities that others can’t.”
I mean, the guy buys abandoned, unopened storage lockers (ones in better ZIP codes) for a flat fee. Like buying an oyster from a pearl diver, he never knows what’s inside. Dead bodies? A Steinway Baby Grand? He takes what he gets — bust or bonanza — then sells it.
“But how do you know what to sell where, and for how much?” I ask. This is the skill set I need as I sift through mom’s old jewelry, dad’s tools, their furniture, art, dishes, collections and the random detritus that once meant something … if only to them.
May the force be with me.
“So you want to liquidate,” he said, summing up my 15-minute rant.
Like men often do, he changed everything in a word.
“That’s it!” I said. “I’ve been thinking about this all wrong! I’m looking at this job as disassembling my parents’ past! As writing the final chapter to a bygone era! When I’m just liquidating! Selling assets that can help pay for their long-term assisted living.”
Light bulbs were flashing in my brain like paparazzi. The pure obviousness was dawning on me. “I’m being sentimental when I need to be practical! Oh, Aaron! You’ve helped me reframe everything!”
He looked at me as if I needed a tranquilizer, and nodded politely.
“A lot of people are turning stuff they don’t want into cash right now, for other reasons,” he said. “They see the bills coming in from Christmas and feel that credit-card hangover.”
“I’m liquidating, not erasing history!”
More polite nodding, then LaPedis offered me this golden advice on what to sell where, which you, too, can use whether emptying a loved one’s home, downsizing or trying to get ahead of the bills:
May the force be with you.
Syndicated columnist and speaker Marni Jameson is the author of “House of Havoc” and “The House Always Wins” (Da Capo Press). Contact her through marnijameson.com.