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How To Clean Out Your Basement

aaron-in-the-basebentFirst, take a week off work and make the commitment to spend at least 4 hours a day in that dark, damp, yucky basement.  (Okay, so some days I only got in 2 hours but at least I went down there.) Second, get a dumpster! This is very important so the trash is out of your house. If you cannot get a dumpster, then plan to head out to the landfill right away. Third, be brutal! Purge! Seriously, get rid of it all. You will feel so much better when you’re done. My plan was to take everything that was not trash to our church’s thrift shop but by the 3rd day, with my whole office filled with treasures that I no longer needed, I knew I was in trouble. So the next brainstorm I had was to have a yard sale. (Hint: NEVER have a yard sale in the middle of July; it’s too hot!) Once it was decided to host this event, I really got serious and my daughter and father in law joined in so a multi family yard sale was born.  While very hot, it was a big success!

Back to the basement, I am happy to say that 30 years of records from our old wholesale nursery are now gone! All sorted and tossed either in the dumpster or in boxes to be shredded (at the Beltsville Lion’s Club FREE Shredding Day coming up at Behnke’s on July 30th). What a relief this is.  Gone are all those boxes from 1979 forward taking up so much room in our basement. Finally I have some empty shelves.

Then I located all the kids’ VHS tapes.  I had decided to sell them until my daughter showed me how to use our VHS player and my grandson enjoyed 101 Dalmatians. I had a lot of people tell me to check them out for value on eBay. Heck, someone has a Beauty and the Beast Black Diamond edition priced at 10K! Although, with some more research, I saw they do not generally sell for that. I do have 5 Disney Black Diamond editions so I will hang on to them, just in case.

I did have trouble with deciding what to do with my grown children’s stuff until it came to me that it really is theirs; they should decide what to do with it. So I put each of their things in boxes for them to sort out later. I will give them a time frame and then, well, there is always that dumpster. A lot went right into the dumpster: games and books I knew my grandkids would love one day, all gone! That sounds harsh, but after 20 plus years in a basement, they really were not something I would want anyone to have.  The ones that passed my inspection as still in great condition went to the yard sale!

Then there were the beanie babies… sigh… hundreds of them, all saved in air-tight containers. That’s right, yours truly had been bitten by the beanie baby bug and had a nice thing going for awhile selling them, until the bottom fell out of the fad. The last 10 years, I have been donating them to different groups and will keep on doing that. However, I put a big box full out at the yard sale and noticed a lady checking them out. I started talking to her and found out that she gives them to children after surgery at the hospital she where she works. So, I just gave her the whole box full.

So now you know how I spent my Summer vacation. I feel great at what was done and while there is still more to do down there, at least I know what is there and that I want to keep most of it. Oh, and a few extra thoughts for a successful yard sale. Don’t think you’re going to make a lot of money, but instead of start your prices at FREE and go up from there. And have a plan to take everything that is left right away to a local thrift shop. Don’t bring anything back in your house! Also, be careful having your 4 year old grandson helping you. They tend to find their own treasures but if they do, send whatever it is home with them.

by Stephanie Fleming, Behnke’s Vice President

Stephanie Fleming was raised at Behnke’s Nurseries in Beltsville. Her Mom, Sonja, was one of Albert & Rose Behnke’s four children. She was weeding from the moment she could walk and hiding as soon as she was old enough to run, so many weeds, so little time. Although she quickly learned how to pull out a perennial and get taken off of weed pulling duty.

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