A lesson well-learned from my mother - Denny Scott editorial
The era I grew up in was one of collectibles and stories about how, someday, some trinket, card or toy could be worth a fortune if it were well-maintained. It led to me hoarding some things that, in the end, didn’t prove to be of much value until my daughter found them enjoyable.
It’s not like I bought things because I thought they’d be valuable down the road, I would just occasionally decide that something may be worth some money some day and think I should keep it.
In my defence, I haven’t been totally wrong; I now own a handful of things that, if I sold them, would definitely make for a profit. The problem is, however, finding someone who is willing to pay what they’re worth.
That was the refrain my mother always repeated to me when I talked about how much something may be worth. “It’s only worth [something] if someone’s in front of you with the money.” She was right. Things are only worth what people are willing to pay for them, and that attitude spans from the smallest items to the most expensive purchases.
On the smaller end, did you know that specific Lego sets are intensely sought after by fans of the building toy (or “modular building collectors”, as they like to be called) for various reasons?
One such set, the Green Grocer set, (set number 10185 in case you’re wondering) goes for upwards of $1,700 on eBay because it comes with a number of the rare 1x8 “sand green” bricks.
“Modular building collectors” were apparently hoping that the brick would once again be made as part of the Steve Guiness Typewriter set (named because Guiness created it). Unfortunately, the newly-created set won’t include the sought-after brick, meaning collectors need to keep shelling out as much as my first car was worth for a handful of plastic.
And as for why I know about this - don’t worry, I’m not spending that much money on Lego. The news article came through my newsfeed likely because of my separate interests in antique typewriters and Lego (the former for me and the latter for my daughter… and me).
If you think the idea of spending that kind of money on Lego is a little looney, you can look to the local housing market as another example. People are paying four or five times what houses went for as early as a decade ago.
Not that we’re looking to move, but one of my wife’s favourite pastimes (that I indulge because I’m interested as well) is looking at houses for sale in the area. We don’t need to upgrade (provided Ashleigh and I can start rehoming some of the keepsakes we both have taking up storage space).
I don’t mean physically looking at them - taking up people’s time like that would just be cruel – but she does often check out the online listings and, had we not bought our home when we did a decade ago, we might not have found a home in Blyth.
So where is this all going? Well, that lesson had an interesting impact a few weeks back and I didn’t realize it until I was looking for a specific book and found some old collectibles. As I laid hands on them, my eyes filled with dollar signs. Then, however, I realized that only weeks before, I had started my daughter down the same path of hoarding things that will only really increase in value over an entire lifetime and then won’t be enjoyed.
She had, through a Happy Meal received some Pokemon cards and I told her we’d put them away because I had already heard stories about how single cards were going for over $100. Not even thinking, I looked them up and realized the cards she had were definitely not those ones, but I still left them on a high-up shelf in her room, thinking I was doing her a favour.
Even if the cards doubled in value over the next 10 years, with inflation, she likely wouldn’t get enough selling them to do more than take her dear old dad out for a Big Mac on his birthday. Somewhere, in the back of my mind, I knew that, but I still put those cards up.
If she’s anything like me, she’ll have more fun with those cards while they last than she would with the money they may be worth some day. I know this because, on the rare occasions I’ve sold things through auctions or to collectors, I’ve always held out for a better deal, sometimes to the point that I get nothing for them at all and end up holding on to the items.
So I took the cards down and, in an exercise of great willpower, handed them to my daughter and said, “Have fun.” That’s the one thing I wasn’t ready for as a parent: how much growing up I had to do to make sure she could grow up right.
Of course the real end of the story is where she had forgotten about them, lost interest, and I ended up putting them back on that high shelf for a rainy day.