Most people think that my job is just a treasure hunter, but the best part of my job is without a doubt the people I meet. We have some incredibly interesting people shop with us, many are artistic, eccentric, quirky, plenty who are in every week looking for some sort of treasure.

I spend at least 2 days/week on the road and this is where I meet some of the most amazing people with incredible stories. Many are dealing with the grief of a loved one, or the impending inevitability of losing their partner, their home of many years; often the worry they share of that journey is easier to confide in a stranger than family. Some are incredibly eccentric, hermits, and outsiders shut off from the world, rarely do they let someone in. Some are scared of the future, crying as they must give away or sell their special possessions, some are items that have been passed down to them and they feel a huge responsibility to ensure they fall into the right hands.

Every year I meet hundreds of these people on the same journey and feel it’s my responsibility to give them finalisation of that purpose. I like to share some stories of the people I meet, I feel we can learn a lot from them, I know I certainly do. So here’s the first of more to come from the people I meet on the road, this couple had a beautiful love story, maybe they don’t see it, but I certainly do.

40 years ago a couple met through tragic circumstances of having each lost their partner, both had children. Over an hour with me, they shared their journey together; how they met, where they worked, as well as stories and accomplishments from their working lives and holidays. One was a teacher and the other was a joiner. Each Friday the man would travel to pick up his “wife” and they would spend the weekend relaxing at a caravan park down the coast. They told of their travels, very proudly the children’s accomplishments, and talked of grandchildren; I could tell they rarely had the opportunity to share these stories, today everyone is too busy, no one is interested.

What I also see is a partner who has recognised the other is not well, they’re both old and soon one will be gone, and no doubt the other has their own health issues too. Left alone, the other might lose their independence without being able to drive, the house is too big and hard to look after alone, it’s starting to get tired and dated but it’s their home of 40 years together, all their family memories within the walls of this house. They’ve got great kids but they’re too busy to do all the work. The couple are trying to remain fiercely independent and they want to get their affairs in order.

Part of my job is assisting them in letting go of the past by clearing out unwanted items, they don’t want one of them to go and the other is stuck with what feels like a mess, and they don’t want to burden the kids. Sometimes they want everything gone quickly, other times it’s gradual and maybe I will visit 3-5 times to make it feel less sudden and give them time.

My job is to listen and help steer them on that journey, assure them that I will find a good home for their items which have practically become part of the family, some people might see it as just rubbish, but to them, everything has a story.

We get around to talking about what needs to go, room by room we discuss things. No, no one will not want the faded pictures on the wall, the 40 years old rugs are no good nor the numerous wardrobes, but I agree to take a couple of old chairs, once owned by a premier of Tasmania, which will wind up in a coffee shop or wine bar at $65 each.

Downstairs I enter the garage, probably once the proud workshop of the owner, now in disarray with worn out rusty tools, and way up underneath the house are some old bikes rusting away, soon to become ornaments on a wall. Carefully put away, maybe 30 -40 years ago are boxes of possessions from days past, some of which they think may be from the previous owner. After years they are riddled with mice/rats/spiders, boxes collapsing , the stench strong from mice poo and urine. I pull out some other boxes to sort later I’m sure the owner wants me to take them all, but I can’t, maybe we will find something of use maybe not, maybe it’s too far gone. At the end of the day, I met a lovely couple, shared a cuppa, listened to interesting stories and will probably be back again one day to repeat.

The incredible thing is, this was just one of 5 people I did that day, all with their own unique story, all completely different, all selling for different reasons; some need cash to pay their bills, some need to get rid of the past, some thinking of the future, downsizing, moving, going to a nursing home, dying. Every day is unique, every day is an adventure and a privilege to enter these people’s lives for just a glimpse of their history. Some are very memorable and for years we keep in contact, many I never see again.

In future stories I will share some of these stories and their characters. Next time, I want to share one of my favourites – Betty, she is 94 years old and every 6 weeks I would have to visit her for a cuppa and buy a few trinkets.

Happy Treasure Hunting,

John Cole

If you have any unwanted items, looking to downsize, need to clear a deceased estate or think you have a treasure we might like, please give us a call on 6423 3316 to chat and we can organise a time to visit that suits you.