LIFE & STYLE

For Many People, Gathering Possessions Is Just The Stuff Of Life

By Mary MacVean
Los Angeles Times.

LOS ANGELES

We cherish things and accumulate them. We move them from shelf to shelf, and from home to home.

The federal government estimates that a quarter of Americans with two-car garages don’t use them for automobiles. Even those without a permanent home carry their stuff around with them.

We like to shop, own, trade or give away. Things matter to us, for reasons practical and emotional.

“Our possessions all have magical qualities. Many, if not most, of the things we keep have an essence that goes beyond the physical character of the object,” says Randy Frost, a professor at Smith College, in Northampton, Mass., who has studied and written about hoarding and is the author of “Stuff.”

A stroll through the Sunday flea market outside Fairfax High School provides a catalog of some of those magical objects: varsity letter jackets, rotary phones, typewriters, fur blankets, old ties and cowboy boots. Butterflies pinned to cardboard and framed.

A crystal Eiffel Tower. A blue guitar.

Vendors collect stuff to sell to people, who often resell the stuff all over again.

“This market has the best eclectic stuff, a collection of people’s things that are old,” says LaNell Petersen, shopping on a recent weekend with her sisters. She likes the hunt for something she believes is more valuable than its price.

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