Unused clothes are piling in drifts on the closet floor.Bookshelves overflow with murder mysteries, sci-fi and old magazines. And the records: Well, it's been a while since acid rock or folk music struck the inner chord.
Things are edging you out of the house. It's time to move - or perhaps to start spring cleaning with a stick of dynamite. Wait. Don't blow up the joint. You can turn your neglected wardrobe and household items into real money. Just check out the used book stores and consignment shops.
Dupont Circle's Bread and Roses Community Music Shop will accept any record or book on consignment. Depending on the condition and content, single albums fetch from 25 cents to $2.50; doubles and new releases to $3.75. Of 67 albums I consigned recently, 55 sold and yielded more than $70. After 60 days, items are either returned or put into the 10-cent bin - and record or book for a dine.
Or join the Bread and Roses collective. A $5 yearly membership fee gives a 5 percent discount on any record or book and 70 percent refund on new albums returned in immaculate condition within three days. A nice way to tape records.
Consigned paperbacks go for half their original price; donated ones for a third. Pricing of hardbacks is up to the consigner. Books don't turn over as quickly as records. Two weeks ago I brought in 167 paper and hardback books. About a quarter of them have been sold, netting $35.17.
Most used-book stores are a bit more selective. The going rate for paperbacks ranges from 5 to 50 cents. Textbooks are welcome only at the Maryland (University) Book Exchange. Second Story Books will take editions of encyclopedias during only from the mid-60s on.
Also snubbed are those Readers Digest condensed books and abridged versions of classics you used when the Monarch notes were unavailable for last-minute English lit cramming. Dealers swear they don't sell. The same goes for book-club editions.
But comic books are another story. Those old copies of "Archie" can bring you up to 20 cents each at Cosmic Visions: The Fantasy Supermarket in Silver Spring. The old comic-book market is the fastest-growing next to stamps and coins, says owner Hal Schuster.
Or those old postcards and magazines. The Odds and Ends Shop in Frederick is always interested in scrutinizing your collection.
Now you've dusted off the shelves. "Sidhartha" and those other classics that once touched your soul are gone. You finally relinquished The Doors' "Light My Fire," along with Cat Stevens and "Gimme Shelter" (by the Stones, of course). There's money jingling in your pocket.
It's time to tackle the closets. Before you stuff it all into a plastic bag and take off for the nearest consignment shop, the owners ask you to observe the "Second-Hand Code."
Second-hand stores are not thrift shops; they must guarantee their merchandise. Clothing must be cleaned and pressed - preferably on hangers. No tears, holes or spots. Most places won't examine out-of-season clothes. That means spring and summer items are what they're interested in now. And the style - no more than two or three years old. Mini-skirts just don't sell. The going rate is about 1/4 to 1/3 the original price. The consigner's share runs 40 to 60 percent of the sale.
Now is the time to admit you won't ever wear that charming number great-great Aunt Fan wore when she was presented to the Court of St. James in 1875. Geraldine's at Tenley Circle and Georgetown's Deja Vu specialize in vintage clothing from Victoriana up through the '50s. And that tuxedo (now too small) purchased for all those openings you swore to attend but never did - any consignment shop handling men's clothing will be happy to look at it.
Small bric-a-brac, antiques, working appliances and furniture are game for the second-hand stores. Nearly anything in mint condition can be consigned: linens, china, bicycles, paintings, jewelry. . .