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Repurposing, Reselling & Regifting Memories

A few years ago, in the depths of the pandemic, I went through a massive downsizing process in the name of simplification, going through old memories and determining like many of us do what to keep, what to toss, what to donate, but also…what to repurpose!

I finally realized that stuff sitting in an old trunk wasn’t going to ever get fully appreciated, used, or passed down (since we had to let go of our dream of becoming parents after 7 of the most painful years of my life both mentally and physically, and so I got strict…and started with creating an Etsy shop for my vintage stuff. Too many items don’t make it home via Goodwill donations, plus with the majority of my consulting business on hold with the shutdowns, it was a great way to bring in some income outside of PPP loans!

Because of sentimental value, I jacked up the prices so it’d really be worth my while since some of it was really tough to let go of...

  • My mega collection of 12” singles that I rarely if ever actually listened to (because who in their 40’s is listening to six versions of the same song, particularly when their favorite mix(es) are already on their iPod or other digital device?) I’ve come to realize they are like shelves of books to the ceiling that get dusty due to lack of use - old unheard records are for showing off, and I’m no longer interested in having things that are only to show others how cool one thinks it makes them look.

  • My Swatch watch and Pop Swatches from middle school I’d saved up to buy. I haven’t worn a watch in decades, and collectors out there love this stuff.

  • My stonewash Guess jean jacket I’d gotten after my appendectomy that I sewed the back of a Depeche Mode tank top onto…and never wore after 1991. Again, perfect for a DM lover adding to their collection.

  • My green Dr Martens that were now far too tight on my middle aged feet that had grown a half size during the prior 25 years. Snapped up within a day or two by someone who’d been craving a pair and loved ‘vintage’ lol...

  • My ‘1985 neon yellow sweatshirt I got at Sears in 6th grade to wear with my Guess jeans with the zippers on the ankle and matching neon anklets. Hella funny to remember that stuff, and I’m thinking probably used by someone for a Halloween costume, but hey…it sold for more than the original retail price...

  • My 8-buckle suede pointy-toed boots I’d taken forever to buy on layaway from London Underground and wore nearly every night out dancing in the early 90s. These were particularly hard to let go of.

  • My suede thigh high boots I wore on special occasions, in particular to see The Cure in ’96 as pictured above in a recently unearthed photo my friend texted me :)

  • My beloved but rarely-if-ever-reread antique books by authors like Thoreau, Dickinson and others.

  • And even my treasured INXS tour book from 1988, autographed by guitarist Tim Farriss himself before the show when my friend noticed the band eating dinner on the lower level of the venue. I’m not an autograph seeker whatsoever but my friend would have sold her soul for the attention (the friendship did not last, stuff like that creeped me out), so I remember very little as I felt super awkward about the whole thing. A collector now has it, and that’s fine by me.

Ultimately I made over $2,000 selling this stuff on Etsy. Who’da thunk!!!!!! It was a really cool way to part with these memories, and I completely beamed when a number of buyers sent personal notes of thanks for these items that were ‘perfect’ for what they were looking for, were great additions to their collections, etc. And hey, it helped me feel better as my husband got used to his new role as primary breadwinner.

There were only a few things that didn’t sell, but I researched some targeted organizations, i.e., ones where I knew they’d truly get used. Kid things went to a local consignment store where I requested they be given to those in greatest need. But my favorite donation was definitely giving my original Pentax SLR film camera and entire setup (yes, yes, I know they say you should never get rid of your first camera, but screw that, if it’s been unused for 10 years, it goes, period) to Youth in Focus, a local nonprofit empowering kids to get behind the lens and learn the basics of photography, which meant the world to me.

What I decided to keep from the ‘memory trunk’ were a few select items that represented far too much to ever give away. My ballet slippers from dance team in high school that were with me til a career-ending injury erased that dream, which now hang on the wall of our exercise room under a framed portrait of Fred Astaire. My beloved Adrienne Vittadini sequin ‘opera dress’ I wore to the Phantom with my BFF in the 90’s. My worn-down-to-the-nubs first pair of Dr Marten black boots, which are now unwearable, but sit proudly on a shelf, worn everywhere from the clubs to the French countryside at Versailles (yep, I kept the red dress too, that one still fits).

As far as repurposing though, I’m pretty proud of this last project - designing a T-shirt quilt comprised primarily of my beloved (yet seriously thinning material from rampant wear) concert t-shirts from over the years, from Erasure to INXS to Depeche Mode to Love & Rockets to the Dead Milkmen to No Doubt to Information Society, with a few of my husband’s tees sprinkled in (Stooges, Black Flag, Harry, KDH) and several from the memory trunk as well (Portland’s original Virginia Cafe, the Church of Elvis, and my chocolatier business, Bittersweet, among others). I enlisted the help of the good folks at Project Repat in North Carolina to turn these old tees into a comfy soft quilt which is now keeping us all cuddled up in the winter when we’re home reading or watching movies, and HIGHLY recommend these folks in particular to help with this incredibly sustainable and meaningful project.


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