By Dan St. Yves

It has been a surreal past few months. Last June I lost my father unexpectedly. This past June, my sister passed away. In both cases, it became clear that there was a pattern in all our lives, a family trait if you will. We all liked to collect things.

As I was my sister’s executor, I did an even deeper dive into her life than we did with my Dad’s, given that Mom survived to keep all of his collections together. I can confirm, in case you may be wondering, the collector gene is just as strong here in my own household. I don’t so much have “junk drawers” as I do “boxed treasures of undetermined future value.”

That begs the question though, are you a collector or a pack rat? A few years ago I came up with a simple quiz for my old weekly newspaper column, which I am updating here and now for your own benefit. After all, given the importance of staging homes and the importance of good first impression that is often stressed when taking new listings, this information might even help your clients:



Pack rat or collector, which are you? Take our simple quiz and find out!

You keep leftover cutlery from fast-food restaurants. Are you a crafty collector or a quirky pack rat?

  • Collector. Future generations will be astonished at this primitive tableware.
  • Pack rat. In your mini-van, you’ve got a glove-box full of napkins sorted alphabetically by restaurant name.

Since 1984, you’ve kept every issue of The National Enquirer. Is this the work of a savvy collector or the insane actions of an obsessive pack rat?

  • Collector. Especially if you have the commemorative issue where the alien marries Elvis on the Titanic, with Bigfoot as his best man.
  • Pack rat. You’re only keeping those papers in the extreme chance that one day they will insulate the attic crawlspace.

You own every single Pez dispenser ever created, even the one of Latin pop performer Ricky Martin. Can you someday claim to be a brilliant collector, or will you be ridiculed as a questionable sort of pack rat?

  • Collector! The Traveling Road Show will one day prove your genius when The Simpsons’ dispensers fetch tens of dollars on the collectibles market.
  • Pack rat. Even shaking the bon-bons out of the Ricky Martin dispenser won’t attract a buyer.

Your passion is collecting the plastic grocery bags from every major chain outlet across Canada and border towns in the U.S. When purchasing your groceries, you ask for a couple of the bags in “pristine condition”. Collector or madman?

  • Collector. If you’re able to collect plastic bags from multi-national, billion-dollar companies that gouge their customers after paying for $200 of merchandise by charging five cents apiece for bags, you SHOULD be collecting them!
  • Pack rat. Let’s be honest here, no one will ever pay YOU five cents apiece for a plastic bag.

An entire room in your house is stacked floor-to-ceiling with boxes identifying the contents of each of your specific collections. Collector or pack rat?

  • Collector. And a damn well-organized one, if I do say so myself!
  • Sorry, pack rat, and a pack rat that may one day open one of those boxes to find his uncooked macaroni collection extensively consumed by rats the size of wiener dogs.

These are just a few of the clues that you may be on the border between legitimate hockey-card connoisseur or someone whose hoarding of Harlequin romance novels is of grave concern to his spouse. Before you fill that shopping cart with Lord Of The Rings action figures, think just a little bit harder.

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