A little over a year and a half ago, I came to the realization that I have too much stuff and need to get rid of it. Looking back at that first picture in the article, it sounds ridiculous to come to a realization about that. That kind of pile doesn’t just happen overnight. It was a gradual process and that’s really my only explanation of it. Like how that saying goes about boiling a lobster. You put a lobster in boiling water, it’ll protest and feel lots of pain. But if you put a lobster in room temperature water and gradually bring the heat up, it won’t notice, or something like that. At least that’s how the saying goes; I’m not exactly sure if that’s true. But in my case, the slow addition of a set or two here and there doesn’t seem like a lot. And it wasn’t until I really took a look at the big picture and how it was affecting my living situation that I snapped out of it.
So, at the same time, I was slowly becoming hyperaware of social media and the negative impact it can have. The term FOMO came into my radar and it helped explain a lot of things. My wife followed some people on Instagram and showed me a couple of posts where they went against the grain of what you would normally see on there. They shared pictures and stories of real life, bad things that can happen, bad decisions, not just things that are awesome. No one’s life is constantly awesome. Inspired by their realness, I took a risk, took some pictures of my problem, and posted them. I’m reposting the pictures here as a reminder to myself of what things are like.
That was a year and a half ago, and after that article was posted, I received tons of emails from fellow hobbyists that were going through the same thing. It was risky. I was airing all my dirty laundry, bringing my shame out, front and center. I said I wanted this blog to be more personal, and I couldn’t get more personal than that. The responses though. Not a single negative response. Everyone that wrote to me had very kind words to say, enough to bring tears to my eyes. It was both encouraging that I was doing the right thing and that I wasn’t alone, and heartbreaking at the same time BECAUSE I wasn’t alone. Knowing that others found themselves in the same predicament, that was another eye-opening moment.
After that post, I set out to inventory my LEGO in hopes that I could find a single buyer to unload the entirety of my collection onto. Inventory took a long time. I logged a little over 700 items. The next step was to price each item’s market rate by what they were going for on Bricklink. I didn’t even got to pricing half the list and then I kind of forgot about it. The last time I touched that spreadsheet was December of that year. It was daunting and to be completely frank, I was feeling pretty shitty about myself. Amassing all that LEGO was a mistake. And during the times I was doing it, I couldn’t really see that. It just felt normal. Having to iterate through each line in the spreadsheet was just a reminder of what I did to get to this mess. So consciously or subconsciously, I stepped away from that effort.
While my hoard continued to sit there collecting dust, my attitude about buying LEGO completely changed. I no longer felt the need to buy and acquire. The ‘hunt’ for a deal no longer satisfied whatever basic instinct it fulfilled before. Going to Comic Con in 2018 was a completely different experience. As a friend put it, I had evolved. I’m in a new place now and my relationship with LEGO is complicated. I know that sounds trite but it is.
I don’t expect everyone reading this to fully understand what I went through. And I don’t expect everyone to be in the same place I am either. I may not like purchasing LEGO anymore, but I’m sure there are many of you out there that still do. I’m just not one of those people anymore. What gets complicated is the fact that this blog still reports on LEGO news, has the occasional reviews, and shares frequent sales posts. It’s complicated because we still depend on referral sales to try and help pay some of the bills associated with running this site. It’s like being the recovering alcoholic bartender. Buying LEGO isn’t good for me, but I’m okay helping someone else get their ABS fix… sometimes. In some ways, it feels like running this kind of blog is a direct contradiction to my new non-consumerist attitude. It’s something I wrestle with every time I put up a sales post.
About a month after that post, I decided to take a look at the way FBTB earns income. I didn’t want annoying ads like Brickset, or rely so heavily on referral sales. Amazon doesn’t pay out as much as it used to. And with more and more LEGO blogs popping up, the core audience is spread thin. So I decided to try a subscription model. I also inserted one Google AdSense ad at the top of every page, and a contextual Amazon product box at the bottom of every article. And that’s it. I didn’t want a lot of ad code slowing down a visitor’s browser experience. And I didn’t want to spend half my day posting sales deals that would just end up becoming noise and turn off visitors. Other than that post and mentioning it here now, I haven’t brought up subscriptions or donations since. I don’t want to beg. My goal is for this site to try and provide relevant content and serve as a sounding board for all the things we’re into. LEGO, video games, board games now, movies comics, geeky pop culture stuff. If you, the reader enjoy the content, please consider a donation or subscription to help defray costs. Every dollar helps and is very much appreciated.
And in the tune of not being annoying, one other approach I try and stick to is avoid click-bait headlines. ‘Cause those are like the worst. I’m less likely to click on one of those than I am on a headline that gives away the main point of the article.
Anyways, I might have strayed a bit from the main point of this article with the monetizing subject. It was mainly to show how I’m trying to evolve this site into a different state than what a typical LEGO blog is about. I’d love to eliminate the ads entirely and just have a fast-loading site with 100% content and 0% ads but we’re not quite there yet. Okay, okay, I am digressing again. Let’s get back on point. And the point is to give an update on where I’m at with my collection.
A couple of months ago, I was contacted by a friend who works for a toy store. He made an offer that seemed too good to be true. The owner extended an offer to sell my collection on consignment. I was in a dark place and that text message was like a beacon of light. I had questions obviously about how everything would work, commission rate, fees, but it almost didn’t matter. I was drowning, and this person was throwing me a lifeline. I wasn’t about to ask a bunch of questions to make sure the lifeline fit my standards. That’s not how it works. My friend did pick up on some hesitancy and assured me that everything would be okay.
I mean, lifeline or not, I still have my doubts but this set up is probably the best possible to way to unload my collection. My friend comes over to picks up my stuff. He does a quality check and scans in each item that can be sold. If a box is too damaged, he’ll pass and I put it back into a separate smaller pile. He’s taken away a little over 170 items now. This is what my space looks like now:
Guys, I can see that back wall now! I can actually touch it. With my bare hand!
This was the first batch of items that have gone out to their warehouse. My friend came over a second time this past weekend and picked up more stuff. Here they all are in their happy little home waiting to be sold:
He didn’t pick everything up. Some stuff had enough damage that made them unsellable by their standards. But that number is small and way more manageable. I can probably still offload them on eBay or something. Anyone want a broken-seal Café Corner or Green Grocer?
You guys. It is such a relief. I’m in a much happier and different place than I have been in a long time. I liken it to having a medical problem that you just put up with because it’s not a big deal and you deal with it even if it gets a little worse over time, and then you finally get some help and you’re like, “Wow, I can’t believe I waited that long to get help.” I know I keep repeating myself, but I can’t help it. And knowing I’m not alone, the only thing I can say is if you need help, reach out. Society can make it hard to ask for help, but there are people that are willing to listen and help if you need it.
My goal right now, other than thinning out my collection completely, is to get my two boys a bedroom. Right now, they share one with their sister but she’s at an age now where she kind of needs her own space, and the boys can have their own space. And ultimately, show them what it’s like to not live in a cramped household. My fear is that living like this for so long has damaged them in an unforeseen way. Because it’s not healthy. Like I said, I’ve evolved, and I say that with no arrogance. It’s time I live that way now, and by extension, my family to live that way as well.
I’ll be providing more updates as significant things happen. And I hope to be doing that sooner rather than later because a year and a half between updates was way too long.