Sell crap or borrow?


My wife likes to watch TV for at least a half an hour each morning.  To me this is not normal, but this morning I reluctantly joined her.  This was mostly due to my body not understanding that sleep is preferable to watching TV.  

We will have a talk about this tomorrow morning.  My body and I talk often.


She was watching a show called Cash in the attic. One of the things I have to admire about some of these “reality” shows is how the writers work so hard to create drama from absolutely inane subject matter.  The show revolves around how people who have excessive possessions, and need some cash, can score big by selling them at auction. (The possessions not the people, maybe next season) 


The more I watched the show the more I found myself thinking about how this is a good parable for the current economic condition in America.


She show went like this:

After a lot of chit-chat the family starts picking out furniture, knick knacks, and odds and ends that they can to sell.  The idea is once they “earn” enough money they can afford to remodel their bathroom. 

This is a common problem here in America; too much stuff not enough bathroom.

While standing in the garage the host asks what the father wants to sell at auction.

Father “Well, we could sell this bird cadge that I bought online a few years back…”

Host  “looks interesting, how much did you pay for it?”

Father  “Oh I think I paid $100”

Host  “Well, by its condition and interesting allure I would estimate you should get at auction maybe $20.” 

Host and Family “Haha ha ha ho”

Then a commercial break for a lawyer who calls himself the “Strong arm”. He promises to get you lots of money if you get hurt for any reason. 

Back to more appraisals

This goes on and on for twenty minutes.  Each item that this bozo bought he paid way more that it was worth.  “It seemed to be a good deal at the time”.  I was watching this and thought to myself; ‘Now I know why you can’t afford to remodel your bathroom’.

They were shooting for $1900 to remodel their bathroom.  The father paid more that $4000 for the crap he was selling. 
The auction day finally arrived and the writer/producer designed suspense was getting to be unbearable.  Would the family sell enough for their target of $1900.00 so they can remodel the bathroom?  Would anyone buy their crap?  Will mom divorce the impulsive idiot who spent $1,000.00 on a grain and feed display? Will the daughter get closest to her guess on the value of the lamp?  The hyped up suspense was becoming silly.


The auction was coming to a close and they managed to exceed their target of $1900.00!  Yes, now they had just over $2,000.00 to make their bathroom a real showcase!  There was Hugs and kisses, lots of jumping up and down, then a close up of the little child who guessed that a lamp would sell for $100.00 (Dad didn’t buy the lamp) Then after a commercial break (advertising for a company that guarantees credit to anyone who applies) they go back and show their beautiful newly remolded bathroom.


Here is my re-cap of the whole adventure….

  1. Husband buys crap he doesn’t need, for way more than its worth.
  2. Husband stores crap in garage and doesn’t do anything with it for years.
  3. He and his family get to be on television in front of a nation wide audience.
  4. The family gets about 50¢ on the dollar for Dads purchases at auction.
  5. They celebrate, because they can now afford a new bathroom.
  6. People at the auction get to go home with stuff that is probably worth less than they paid for it.
  7. The home and garden network celebrates because the show doesn’t require much of an investment and gets good ratings.


Or you could look at it in another way.  The father invests $4,000.00 over several years to show a $2,000.00 loss.  But that’s ok because they got on TV.


On the up side at least they didn’t keep all the crap in the garage and take out a loan to pay for the remodel.   Loan = Bailout?

I may be getting closer to finally understanding our present economic situation. 

Selling stuff you don’t use, even at a loss, is preferable to using credit.

I just hope that the father in this episode learns to stop buying crap for more than its worth…  Metaphorically speaking that is.




6 thoughts on “Sell crap or borrow?

  1. S. Le says:

    Fantastic explanation of the current economy!

  2. You’re making me itch. I just bought a new, old rifle that I in no way needed. But I waaaaaaaneted it! Besides, it was a heck of a buy. Now if they came out with a shoe called “Guns in the Attic”, I’d be in trouble.

    -Turkish Prawn

    Ooooo… guns in the Attic. Sounds like a great name for a band!

  3. Burrowowl says:

    I gotta wonder how these items were purchased. Any time you buy retail, you can reasonably expect that several people are marking things up to make a modest profit. The assumption is that they’re selling you a product you intend to use and get your money’s worth out of. On the flip side, when you go to an auction for folks selling off their shit, you’re expecting to either find rare collectables or really cheap bargains.

    The people looking for rare collectables will frequently pay top dollar. The people looking for bargains sure as hell won’t settle for MSRP.

    This is the same thing folks are seeing in the housing market right now. There are currently two kinds of buyers for residential properties right now: people that are looking to buy for pennies on the dollar and people that are looking for somethin 100% perfect for them. Very little middle ground there.

    Anyhow, yeah. Sometimes you just gotta clear the shelves to make some room. Selling at 50% beats paying for a dump run.

  4. Archvillain says:

    Here’s an excerpt from one of Wenchiepoo’s blogs (back in February) on a similar subject. The show she mentions is no longer on the air, but had a lot in common with your article.

    Let me give you a visual of just how much we as a society are overloaded with “things”—pick a day, any day, and turn your TV to TLC’s show called Clean Sweep. This is a show that sends organizers and decorators to tackle the designated worst rooms in people’s homes, and the first thing to happen is the emptying of room contents out onto the front yard. The owners are then called upon to sort their belongings into “keep”, “toss”, and “trash” piles. I swear each time I see this show, about 80% of what got dragged outside winds up designated as “toss” or “trash.” The “toss” pile doesn’t really get tossed out—it gets put in a yard sale instead, and goes to charity if it doesn’t sell. The fights that break out over what to keep are sometimes quite entertaining.

    This show is reminiscent of many homes in America. We simply have too much stuff, and it’s all out in the yard on national television for all to see. How embarrassing!

    When the organizers and decorators get done with the afflicted room, the owners have more than a new look…they have re-captured time once spent looking for buried things, space to move around in, someone else’s innovation with new paint and furnishings, attention to once-forgotten but important possessions, and money by selling off the unnecessary 80% of what was once in that room.

    The question I always end up shouting to the TV screen is this: why stop there? Why not go through the whole house while you’ve got metabolism and motivation running at high levels?

    The answer I always come up with is this: maybe their yard isn’t big enough to hold all the junk that would be hauled outside. As it is, that one room usually yields enough to cover a sizeable yard all by itself.

  5. One of the many skills that people who serve in the armed forces learn is how to be mobile. While serving in the Air Force I moved my family five times in six years. After a long stay in one place (2 years) we accumulated some crap we didn’t need, but not too much. We always knew in the back of our minds that we were just guests. Like many others, I have lost this skill and after ten years since our last move I have a pile of crap not unlike the people in that show. Spring is coming, and with it spring cleaning, but no auction for me, just a trip to a charity drop off, and then the dump.


  6. planetross says:

    I remember an appraiser coming to my Great Aunt’s house after she died (my Great Aunt, not the appraiser). The person looked around the living room and said, “I’ll give you $2,000 for everything in this room”. Just out of curiousity, my mother asked what the most valuable thing in the room was and the guy said it was a little old fashion wooden bobble head type thing sitting on the mantelpiece. He knew a collector looking for that. Everything else was pretty much just old furniture.

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