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One generation's junk is another era's vintage find

I've read three articles in as many weeks directed at baby boomers to let us know our kids aren't interested in our hoard of furnishings and whatnots from the musty-dusty past.

News Flash — a few too many failed rummage sales of late have made that point perfectly clear to me. You can't sell this junk; you can barely give it away.

This is anarchy. What am I supposed to do with the English ironstone in the brown transferware pattern? It's been on the Thanksgiving table every year for as far back as my kids can remember. Do they really think I can just tote it off to the Goodwill where a complete stranger will buy the entire set, with only one chipped cup and one bowl missing, for a mere sawbuck? OK, I can, but do they think I want to?

And the maple desk with turned legs and original brass plate handles that served as a console in the hallway? Don't they know you can't buy furniture like this anymore? Solid, slow-grown wood, dovetailed joints, and a faux wood-grain formica top that stood up to years of carelessly dropped keys without a scratch.

I tried selling some of the too-much-stuff I have using the local Facebook rummage sale pages. I took clear, sharp photos and posted them with accurate descriptions:

Solid oak entertainment cabinet, holds up to 32-inch flat screen TV, with shelf for DVD, gaming stations or satellite box. Large storage area at base for movies, games and more. Paid $500, selling for $125 OBO.

I was hoping for a best offer of $75, but was prepared to go as low as $50 for anybody who would haul it out.


Same with a small, antique dresser with gracefully curved legs, and two small drawers over one large, deep one. I even offered suggestions for creative uses, like a small sideboard to hold silverware and table linens, or as a changing table in a nursery. Does nobody have vision? Can't they see it with a coat of white paint and a foam pad on top with that deep drawer holding a case of diapers?

I considered joining the chalk-painting craze, but with the cost of supplies and hours of work, it's just not worth it. I may as well send the junk directly to charity and let somebody else repurpose it. The wave of millennials feathering their nests in apartments and houses are not in the market for their parents' cast-offs.

According to trend reports, millennials are minimalist. They seem content to live with less, embrace a rather spartan decorating style, and stick to basic pieces. Ikea and Target are the favored places to shop for home furnishings and accessories.

When these new wave hipsters do collect, they're far too savvy for tired, turn of the century relics. They want glass and steel, or unadorned wood with straight clean lines. They want three-tier kitchen carts or gutted Hi-Fi Stereo cabinets they can turn into well-stocked bars. They want iconic pieces of the era, like pole lamps with staggered aluminum cone shades. It's mid-century modern all the way, baby.

Are you kidding me? That's all the same crap I grew up with, then found stashed in the attic and basement of my parent's house a dozen years ago and couldn't sell at any price. And now it's entirely possible my kids, or at least their vintage seeking contemporaries, are paying top dollar for their grandparents' giveaways?

Following that logic, perhaps I should start hitting up the thrift stores for every oversized sectional upholstered in abstract pastel prints, brass and plastic nesting tables, and pedestal dining room sets with chairs on rolling casters. I could stockpile it for ten years then sell it to fund my retirement.

Now which thrift store had that disco ball chandelier?

Judith Liebaert writes for Positively Superior and the Duluthian. She is the author of "Sins Of The Fathers," a crime novel set in Superior and inspired by a true cold case. Find her online at