Prized possessions for sale in stressed economyby Michael Caputo, Minnesota Public Radio
Business has picked up at pawn shops as credit tightens up. So, more and more people are trying to turn goods they have at home into cash. But, sometimes those family heirlooms or prized possessions have value beyond monetary.
St. Paul, Minn. — We asked people in Minnesota Public Radio's Public Insight Network to talk about making the tough decisions on getting rid of things they care about.
We heard from people like Jonathan Stimes of Burnsville, who lost his job as a radio sales executive six months ago and needed money to pay the mortgage. So, he turned to some gold coins given to him as a gift from his father for working on the family farm years ago.
Stimes said he was unprepared for the emotion that came with the sale.
"I was not prepared for the sense and the feeling of my dad saying, 'I'm here for you still,'" Stimes said, choking up. "He was an exemplary father and I'm appreciating him more and more each day. There is still a few more coins down there that my mom says I can come and get, if I want. I'll do everything humanly possible to keep those."
While many who responded talked about possessions you might find in a safe deposit box or a closet, Daniel Swenson-Klatt of Minneapolis had a far larger possession -- his coffee shop.
The business he started three years ago was "taking care of itself, but not the family."
With a daughter looking to attend college, Swenson-Klatt said he is now giving himself a deadline of June for the business to improve. Otherwise, he said, he will sell.
But it won't be easy.
"What I have here is a connection to a community and that's an odd possession to hang on to," Swenson-Klatt said. "But it would be something to give up by not being here. I know my neighbors. They come in here, we talk. They know what's happening, this is a gathering space. And not being here is something I feel I would have lost."
Swenson-Klatt said that in recent weeks the business has picked up, and he's hopeful that he will not have to sell.
Chris Carlson of Mound has a business of his own related to selling possessions. He initially parted with some construction equipment to pay off some bills. Eventually, the shedding of possessions became a habit. So much so that he now has a side venture selling other people's construction equipment.
Demand in these troubling times for Carlson's service is high. And he adds -- as a sign of his newfound frugality -- that he has a new e-mail address, which includes the starting phrase, "onepersonstrash."
- All Things Considered, 04/15/2009, 6:24 p.m.