A Boy, His Books, and The Lesson Learned

Story from Intent’s Founder, Brooke Richards.

I grew up in Portland, Oregon. I’m still filled with memories of small city cafes and quaint little books stores. Though the city is far different today, if you look, you can still find a few of these gems.

An example is one of my most treasured landmarks, Powell’s Book Store. I would spend endless hours walking the aisles, pulling out books, having the great debate around how many of them was I taking home today. While I bought the used books I really didn’t understand why anyone would EVER sell back a book. Books sit on shelves like steadfast gatekeepers to worlds and times you couldn’t otherwise reach.

My books were an escape from a rainy day, activity when I was board, and most of the time an obsession once it got good.

It wasn’t until adulthood that I understood the reason why people consigned books. These were precious items taking up 4 floor-to-ceiling book shelves. Items that were continually being moved as I was periodically relocating for work. My 4th move brought me back to Portland. I was agonizingly unpacking 15 boxes of books. Finally, I hit a wall. I began to make the tough decision of which books could stay and which needed to go. We didn’t have Marie Kondo at that time, so I had my own organic farewell as I touched and opened each book for the last time.

I loaded up the car one sunny afternoon, a true rarity in Portland, and for the first time, at 27 years old, I got in line to sell my books back to Powell’s.

I stood behind the most adorable 7ish year old boy whose reusable bag was strategically packed to capacity, lugged over his shoulder in a half stoop position. I thought to myself that if he can do it, I can do it too. We both waited patiently as 5 bookstore employees went thru the process of buying back books. I could feel the little guy’s excitement as we neared the front.

Finally, it was his turn. His head barely cleared the counter as he heaved his sack of books onto it. They began to examine each book. I watched intently as the process unfolded. She finished and told him his total.

“Did you want that in cash or a gift card with an additional 15%?”, she began to ask.

Before she finished he exclaimed “gift card please!”

Obviously not his first rodeo! I could see his mother proudly watching from afar. The sense of pride was impossible not to notice. The employee handed the little boy his gift card. He eagerly collected it and skipped to his mom while announcing they took all his books. He told her about the $25 gift card. She took his hand and smiled.

“That’s excellent! What books are you going to pick out today?”, she asked.

I loved what I just witnessed. This mom was teaching her son some amazing stuff:

1) How and where to consign books

2) To not place emotional value on an item

3) Before you get new things you must select old things to remove

4) The monetary value of items and how money works

As I made my way to the counter for the first time to consign my books, I was sincerely touched by the scene that had unfolded in front of me. I also had wished someone had done this with me as a small child. That way I may not have ended up with 400 plus books!

Learn the steps Brooke took from this story by signing up for mobile app. We won’t bombard you with emails. We’ll just give you a few tips in an amazing app to declutter your life.