Getting Rid of Stuff: Board Game Cleanup #1

For a while now, I’ve been thinking about all the extra stuff that I have laying around my home and toying with the idea of liquidating the random collections of things we don’t use. One such collection is board games. For the past eight years or so, my wife and I have enjoyed board gaming as a fun pastime that turned into a full-fledged hobby and collecting sport but eventually smoldered into a fun pastime again. The net result of the last five to seven years is that I have two cupboards literally overflowing1 with board games, many of which I rarely play. In fact, I have kept fairly detailed statistics about each board game, including the last time I played it. As of this writing, there are games in my collection that haven’t seen the table in well over 1400 days (which is just short of four years). So with that evidence to guide me, I set out on a quest to cull2 my collection with the intent of keeping only the games I enjoy and play regularly.

It’s Harder Than It Looks

This all seems pretty simple, in theory. The general thought is that I’ll dump a big list of game titles somewhere on the internet, and nerds everywhere will flock to my doorstep, begging me to take their cold, hard cash in exchange for my well-loved cardboard. In reality, I’m finding that getting rid of stuff — board games or otherwise — is actually quite difficult, primarily because of the time required to go through everything, make many difficult decisions about what must go and what may stay, not to mention all the many organizational efforts to catalog, categorize, and inventory each item while attempting to avoid sentimental vacillations and/or reminiscence.

But the most difficult aspect, in my experience, is the valuation problem. Either you remember what you paid for a thing, or you know what the thing is now worth, and you feel that you need to set a value on the item that will result in the best return. This is usually the most paralyzing, because greed sets in when you realize that you might be able to rake in $85 for a small out-of-print game, but you know that the item would really sell fast if you opted for a more reasonable price like $55. Even then, if no one is really interested in that item, how low must the price go before someone decides to bite?

And so the initial hopes of a quick and easy opportunity to rid oneself of excess material possessions turns into a lengthy ordeal of careful analysis, hemming-and-hawing over the correct price, and way more organizational details than the imagination originally concocted. All the while, nostalgia hovers nearby, ready to sweep in with a fresh pair of rose-colored glasses and an icy-fresh set of cold feet to keep that beloved item from making its way to a new home.

The Unique Board Game Market

Fortunately for my ideals of an emptier game-shelf, the board-gaming trend is still sweeping the globe, with new hordes of converts discovering the joys of Euro-Gaming and BoardGameGeek.com. Fortunately, the latter site has a fairly active community of buyers and sellers who trade and auction games on a regular basis. I’ve never tried auctioning off my board-games, but have seen others do so, and I wanted to give it a try. So, I armed myself with a cause to support 3, with the intent of reducing the aforementioned “greed factor”, and I listed more than 55 gently-used board games for sale.

There are plenty of out-of-print and highly-desired board games on the market and still more titles that are so popular that every gamer in the world has at least two copies. My goal is to get rid of this all this stuff, so I decided to price things to move, while still respecting what seemed like a good market value for the out-of-print gems. So far, my auction is going well – people are bidding on many items, avoiding the really common stuff, and fighting over (or paying top dollar for) the really valuable stuff. Because I’m giving all the proceeds away, I’ve really enjoyed watching the bids come in and I don’t really care as much about whether I’m getting “top dollar” for everything. All the dollars that are coming in are going to a good cause, and I get the immense satisfaction of free shelf-space as a result!

Everything Must Go

But I do have a bit of a problem. What about those items that don’t sell? I really don’t want to have to go through the agony of picking them out of the collection in the next “cleanout”. I’m considering reducing prices before my auction ends, even to the point of giving games away to the first commenter. I might even eventually do a giveaway for the titles I have trouble selling. People love free stuff, and it’s probably worth the shipping cost to clean things out.

You see, I’m tired of having useless stuff around. Laying up treasures on earth, whether it’s money or a large collection of cardboard games, isn’t really what life is about. If the stuff is not getting used, it should go to someone who can use it. And the money really should go to a good cause.

But godliness with contentment is great gain, for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. (1 Timothy 6:6-7 ESV)

  1. When I get a new game and there’s not room, some of the less-used games get removed and sent to the basement, where they collect lots of dust.
  2. A commonly-used term in the board game community. It comes from the concept of a selective slaughter of herds of animals.
  3. I’m planning to donate all proceeds to the Denver Rescue Mission, a local homeless shelter that does a lot of good in my area