I am a collector. I’ve been a collector my entire life. It started when I was kid and I collected stuffed toys (most of which I still have in my closet). Then when the Beanie Baby craze came along, you can bet your bottom dollar I hopped on that train (still have those, too). The types of things I collect have always varied a little — stuffies, owls, vintage toys, quilts, cast iron, vintage cookware, mugs, what have you. There is no one quantifiable reason why I collect. I just enjoy finding neat stuff and adding it to a collection. Now as an adult, I am generally attracted more to vintage and antique items than anything new, but I’m not opposed to snatching a cute owl or sassy mug from a store shelf if I like it enough.
Having been a pack rat for quite some time now, I know there are common pitfalls to collecting. There’s a fine line between having a nice, fun collection and being a hoarder. Thankfully I’ve developed a few tips and tricks to help me not fill my home to the brim with so much stuff that I can’t find my cat. (Actually, I don’t have a cat. But you get my drift.)
If you’re new to collecting a specific type of thing, especially if it’s a collectors item that may have some value, do a bit of research and learn about what you’re collecting. Doing so will help you not get duped into purchasing fakes, and it also helps you know what you really want and why.
Not everything you collect may actually be of monetary value (no one is going to be shelling out big bucks for my mug collection, lets be honest), but if it is you need to know the basics at least. Also compare prices if you can before paying for something. Is the item a dime a dozen or is it hard to find? I’m not telling you to only collect things that are worth money, but it’s never good to waste money on something you could get for less.
Sometimes we get so into what we’re collecting that we grab anything and everything even remotely similar to our collection. Yeah, don’t do that. Unless an item is super super special and valuable and you found it at a great steal, don’t buy doubles of things you already own. There’s no point in having two identical knickknacks except to take up space.
Don’t Keep Trash
This goes along with not just buying everrrryything. Just because you collect vintage vases doesn’t mean you need to buy that one with a giant crack up the side because you feel sorry for it. One man’s trash is another man’s treasure, but some things are trash no matter who ya are. If it’s so damaged that it’s no good for its intended purpose or has lost all value and can’t be fixed, toss it.
Keep your collections well organized. Unless something needs a special storage, keep your items arranged neatly on shelves. What’s the point of collecting something if you’re just tossing it into a box and shoving it in the attic? No, you want your pretties out where you can enjoy them. You also want them nice and neat so that they aren’t taking over your house and duplicates aren’t sneaking in by accident because you don’t know what you already own.
Respect Your Space
Don’t collect more things than you have space to reasonably, neatly store or display. When a collection starts to become an unruly mess, it also stops being any fun. If your storage is full but you find something you can’t live without, get rid of something else that you don’t love quite as much. Let someone else enjoy it for a while.
Keep it Special
I repeat: You don’t need doubles. You don’t need trash. You don’t need every. single. thing. you come across that fits into your collection. So what if it’s a dolphin and you collect dolphins? If you don’t love that particular dolphin (and I mean love it, not feel like it’s kinda okay or sorta like it) then you don’t need it. Keep your items special. Make them all things you really love.
Don’t Collect a Scarcity Complex
I’m about to get a little deep on you, so bear with me. We as humans have this impulse to get more and more stuff. It’s why marketing works so well. It’s why we have junk drawers. It’s why we have a dozen purses we never use. You get the idea. We have this subconscious fear of not having enough of things as well, and while I don’t believe that everyone who collects has a scarcity complex, feelings of scarcity can cause us to go overboard. Feelings of scarcity can make us overeat, hoard money, be greedy, collect too much, etc. It’s the little voice in the back of our minds that says, “you don’t have enough! You aren’t enough! You need it all and you need it now!” In a way it makes sense for us to have this voice, because from an historical perspective, eating everything we could and saving everything we could helped us survive hard times. In times of plenty, though? It can become a problem instead of a solution.
Again, I don’t think that we collect because of feelings of scarcity. I do think sometimes we collect too much because we have those thoughts that tell us, “if I don’t buy this now, it won’t be here later! This is my only chance!” Of course, that isn’t true. For some rare, one of a kind items? Maybe. But not most things. Are you keeping it because you truly enjoy it or because you’re afraid of not having it?
If you start to have feelings of scarcity, remind yourself that creation is abundant. Nothing God has made is scarce. While there are seasons without — without money, without a job, without friends, etc — they are just that: seasons. You are enough and there is enough. Rub some citrus essential oils across your heart and start counting. There are more stars in the sky than we can ever count. There are more blades of grass than we can ever count. There are more leaves on the trees. More grains of sand on the beach. More birds in the air. More freckles on our own bodies. And the One who created it all cares for you and knows your name.
The universe is abundant, and because of that you can collect items that are truly joyful to you and not simply keep everything you find for the sake of a collection.
Turn Collecting into a Craft
Okay, full disclosure: This portion contains a shameless plug for my own new reopened Etsy shop, but hear me out. Okay? Okay.
One of the most enjoyable parts of collecting, and surely the most fun, is going out and finding the cool stuff. It’s a bit of a thrill to dig through a pile of junk in a thrift shop to find that one perfect treasure. That’s the real fun, isn’t it? The hunt! Finding that diamond in the rough, the overlooked item that most people walk right past not realizing its value. Sometimes you even end up finding things that you know are collectible, or really cool, or valuable. . .but they aren’t something you love enough to keep forever. So what do you do?
I’ll tell ya what ya do. You turn your hobby into a craft that can make you a little extra pocket change.
I’m not saying to become a professional picker and turn it into a job if that’s not what you’re into, but I can attest to the fact that it’s equally as fun to find goodies and share them with others as it is to keep them for yourself. I recently reopened my old Etsy page, and now in addition to handmade items, I’m also selling some vintage finds as well. You can sell your treasures at flea markets, on Etsy or Ebay, at a booth in an antique outlet, or any number of other creative places. Then you get the joy of finding the treasure and restoring it to its former glory without the burden of hosting a mountain of stuff in your home.
And hey, check out my shop while you’re at it. You may just find your perfect match!