Claudia’s Corner: Letting go of your stuff – News –

Ready to purge the excess and not sure where to start? Think something has value, so you end up keeping it because you don’t know what to do with it? This was my life for the last six months before moving.

Marty McDermott and Robyn Yearwood have built a client-focused business called Operation Cleanout.

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“Many of our clients are paralyzed by emotion or the fear that they are throwing away something valuable,” Marty said. “Our team is able to take the guesswork out of the process.”

Both Robyn and Marty bring a background of antiques and estate liquidation to this company. Combined, they have a large list of contacts that enables them to handle everything from fine antiques that need to be brokered to collectors and dealers all the way down to the everyday usable household contents that can be donated to a variety of local charities. Simply put, this team empties houses and handles everything.

Millennials and Generation Z are turning away the family heirlooms. Decorating trends are more minimalistic and lighter than our earlier generations of layered decor. Housing is smaller for this generation, which limits the amount of stuff they can keep.

Overstuffed attics and basements filled with stuff keep us stuck in the past. Form piles of items to keep, donate, sell or trash. Here is a short list of some of the categories that Marty and Robyn say fall into the Yay or Nay when it comes to the keep pile. With everything, there is always an exception, but these are general lists from their experience.

Things that are hot now and in high demand with buyers:

• Gold and sterling silver jewelry

• Coins with silver or gold content

• Original artwork

• Cameras before 1970

• Mid-century modern teak, walnut or rosewood furniture

• Toys pre-1970 with original boxes

• Video games from 1980s

• Vintage stereo components and speakers

• Vintage Christmas pre-1960

• Sterling silver flatware and decorative items

• Sports memorabilia pre-1980

• Military and fraternal memorabilia

Things once hot commanding big values are now a flop:

• Figurines like Hummels and Precious Moments

• Collector plates

• Beanie Babies

• Doilies and linens

• Depression glass

• Antique sewing machines

• DVDs, VHS cassettes

• Books and encyclopedias

• Mass-produced “collector” dolls after 1960

• Baseball cards after 1980

• Stamp collections

• Signed and numbered lithographs and prints

The duo said there were some fun surprises this past year of cleanouts. Every project presents a different category of “BOLO’ (be on the lookout) items. The most memorable were a collection of vintage 1980-90 grunge band concert T-shirts that one client had neatly folded in her adult son’s closet. She had left them there since he moved out 10 years before. Everything in the closet was slated for the donation bin before Operation Cleanout came through. In the end, the collection of 15 shirts sold for over $2500! Who would have guessed?

As someone who recently moved, start combing through your house today. Tackle a drawer, then a closet, and eventually hit every nook and cranny. When it is time to move, movers will pack everything in boxes that follow you. The unpacking of items you absolutely do not want but move with you to deal with in your new house is pure madness. Believe me, I know.

For more information about Operation Cleanout, call 544-4831 or go to

Claudia Jacobs is a professional stager and owner of Claudia Jacobs Designs in Goshen. Visit or call 294-8993. Send questions and photos to [email protected].


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