|A station wagon is packed and parked outside 2nd Avenue Thrift.|
In the last few years, the term “hoarding” has been a booming part of vernacular with regard to mental disorder. This is due in large part to the look into those affected through TV shows such as Clean House, Hoarders and Hoarding: Buried Alive. But in the grand traditions of saving, collecting, thrift and clearance shopping, a grave situation much like those horrifying hoards on TV is not entirely uncommon.
In a struggling economy where bankruptcy, foreclosure and unemployment are at an all-time high, an eye for frugality and a thrifty resourcefulness are typically positive attributes to possess.
However, I also have certain qualifiers… a test, if you will. If tBut when it comes to the seemingly endless variety of items found at the thrift store, estate sale or flea market, how does the average secondhand shopper know what limits to set? And just how much stuff is too much?
he following criteria isn’t met, I cannot in good conscience make the purchase.
It’s a quantitative term, signifying a spatial reality, the words “too much.” But at what specific number is the border between collection and hoard crossed? 5…25…50?
As for me, I have varied interests in music, movies, books, hobbies and decor. And this hunger is in part, satiated by the diversity thrifting brings to the table.
As a diehard thrifter and vintage enthusiast, I can find several reasons justifying an impulsive secondhand purchase. For instance:
- It’s vintage. It’s kitsch. It’s completely bizarre.
- When and where will I ever come across something like it again?
- It’s dirt cheap.
- Does the item serve a purpose? And will it likely be used for that purpose regularly?
- Do I have a space that could be reserved for the item without difficulty?
- Is the item appealing beyond the low price? Or is it a “must-have” just because it’s a can-have for the low price?
Of course there will be exceptions to these personal shopping habits. After all, every shopper begins with good intentions: finding affordable goods that serve a purpose.
And this is exactly why thrift stores serve as a potential danger for the shoppers who just don’t know when enough is enough. The goods are cheap and potentially useful, when kept contained to a reasonable amount. But for the compulsive shoppers who buy, buy, buy without cleaning and purging unused items already in the home, it’s a virtual black hole.
This is especially true if he or she identifies as a crafter. Crafters, artists and creatively inclined folks see the world a bit differently. Items at the thrift store don’t just have a purpose…they have a desirable aesthetic and potential re-purpose.
And I am all for breathing new life into tired items and for healthy creative expression. But when there’s too much stuff and not enough space, the up-cycling or re-purposing of those goods is a task never completed.
This seems to be the cycle of a hoarder who has thrifted too much.
If you haven’t yet subjected yourself to the scares of excess acquiring and saving through the safe distance of the television, I suggest that you do (if nothing for the visual shock).
After witnessing floor-to-ceiling piles, bags, boxes and crates of “treasures” as they are often referred to by the subjects of Hoarding: Buried Alive, my stomach drops. My eyes nervously dart around the room, scanning the amount, size and space of my own possessions for early signs of hoarding.
I have the sudden urge to clean.
And since it’s that time of the year for what must be universally known as Spring Cleaning, the issue of hoarding cannot be discussed at a better time.
Today I tore apart the garage, cleaning and sorting. Tomorrow I’ll be working on the bedroom and upstairs hall closet.
So I guess I answered my own question. Perhaps the best weapon in the battle against hoarding is prevention.
What are your thoughts on hoarding as a mental disorder?
Do you worry about hoarding tendencies?
What rules or limits do you set to monitor your shopping?