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So Much 'Stuff:' How They Suck Us In and How We Can Resist!

April 24, 2024

Careful what you ask for. In his book “Stuffocation,” author James Wallman details how in the post-industrial revolution US economy of the 1920s and 1930s, there was too much of everything, everything produced by farmers to industrial machines. We overachieved! Rather than produce less, the goal became getting consumers to buy more, even if they had enough. Advertisers had to up their games.

The trick was how to get people to lose the “lasts a lifetime” expectation and develop a desire for the newest version, model, or edition that industry was now only too happy to churn out. The fashion industry already exemplified this and now the rest had to catch on, landfills be damned, and provide cheaper, disposable, fashionable everything. 

Fast forward 100 years and the "buy more" concept has persisted and matured, leaving no industry untouched. Here are a few examples to get you thinking like the advertisers do. 


Millions regularly trade in their favorite gadget—whether a phone, tv, fitness tracker, or otherwise—for the next model the moment it’s released, waiting in line to ensure they are the earliest of adopters. And tech's just the obvious example.  


Have you thought about why there are “colors of the year” and “of the season” that pop up in your feeds and inboxes, often with seasonally suggestive names, like “breezy blue?” All the companies fall in line with their similar version of the “it” blue of the season, until it’s suddenly a beautiful gem green and yet again you rethink your clothing and home decor choices. 


Design concepts trend just like colors. Recently “glaze” has popped up on hot pink garments from Lulu Lemon and green frames from Framebridge. This is not to be outdone by “scalloped” edges on picture frames from Archival Methods, mirrors and tables from School House, and toilet paper from Charmin. Product and marketing experts know how to get modern buyers to buy. 


Here’s yet another reason to buy – sets. Whether that’s a matching clothing set or a gallery wall of frames, moving you to buy not one, not a set, but MORE all at once. I mean, the picture shows 10 frames make a gallery, so I guess I need one of each, right? 

Maybe these tactics do not sway you. You have a certain style, and you stick to it. Timeless. Functional. You! What about ...


... the sneaky “up to 30%” off offers? Have you fallen for those? You browse or click and nearly nothing you’re interested in is 30% off, just a tactically chosen few which you overlook as you accelerate through the checkout process because you are already there in the store or your credit card or other digital payment means is already available on your phone or laptop. 

6 Strategies to Help You Muffle the Calls to Buy

In honor of Earth Day that was celebrated on Monday, and in recognition of our general philosophy here at Artifcts that you should stop and smell the roses more often when it comes to your ‘stuff’ to appreciate what you have and why you have it, we’ve curated some easy tactics you can use to halt more stuff from coming into your home.

1. Unsubscribe. (Yes, catalogs, too. Check out options). Have you heard of that movie from 80s, "See No Evil, Hear No Evil?" That's the idea. If you are not seeing those emails and notifications, you are so far ahead of the game. Worried you’ll miss a sale? Set a reminder to check back when you know they usually have sales. Or simply sign up again later if you truly miss seeing their emails. 

2. Delete payment methods. Unless you are on a recurring payment plan that requires a purchase, delete and/or do not save any payment information anywhere. Make it inconvenient to make that purchase. You’ll have to get up out of your seat to get that credit card, giving you time to think again. 

3. Work ahead for sales. You’re a deal hunter. Fabulous. So are we. Save items to your shopping cart weeks before that next big sale. In the US, big sales are like clockwork on major holidays. By preloading items to your cart, you have time to think on it. When you return weeks later you might discover that at least some of those items are not as “must have” as you first thought. 

4. Visualize where it will go, where and when you will wear it. Maybe you love a beautiful, framed picture, a side table, a cool clock, a dazzling watch, or a “travels-beautifully” dress. Pause to think, where exactly will I hang this picture in my home? Where will this table fit? You already have a watch. Why do you need or want this one? 

5. Keep savings goals front and center. Do you have debt to pay down? A big trip you’re dreaming about? What about ambitions for a lower stress summer with the kids in camps they’ll love? Keep photos of your goals around you. Track your savings each week. Or add to your savings each time you resist a purchase as a reward toward your goal, even if it’s only skipping that espresso. Whatever it takes for you, remember the thrill of that purchase might be short-lived compared to your still more thrilling goals. 

6. Skip “{fill in the blank} math.” Here’s a recent example of this straight from our teenage daughters and their talk about “girl math.” Normally the swim tops and bottoms are individually $30 but there’s a buy one-get one sale. Dear daughter picked out a swim set and said, “Awesome, I have $30 more dollars to spend.” On something, anything, no idea what, but let’s go spend! Sigh.


We feel better already, reminding ourselves of these strategies. We're not turning over a minimalist leaf or shaming anyone for enjoying a bit of shopping. But we do hope your buying does not lessen anything else in your life, from enjoying your home to taking those trips of a lifetime you save for and remember always.


© 2024 Artifcts, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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What's New at Artifcts
Collection Management Made Easy and Meaningful  

Artifcts thanks Sarah Reeder, Artifactual History Appraisal, for her contributions to the following article.

Reading time: 4 minutes

You may have one or many collections, intentional collections and accidental collections. Part of the fun of collecting is keeping track of it: Knowing what you have and what you’re still hunting for, what is sentimental vs. valuable, and what is okay to sell some day versus you’d prefer to pass down to someone special.

Short checklist about collections

We know a thing or to about accidental collections. Try out our free checklist available here.

If you were a professional archivist, librarian, or appraiser, you’d have a ready tool in your pocket to help manage your collections. It’s called a finding aid. But guess what? As you Artifct your collections, you are implicitly leveraging the best of finding aids, but in a friendly form that all can enjoy and benefit from. 

Here’s your peek inside the world of archivists where we show you how finding aids and collection management are made easy and meaningful with Artifcts!

What Is a Finding Aid, and Why Should You Care?

Unless you are a collections professional (archivist, librarian, appraiser…), the concept of a finding aid is likely foreign to you. For the longest time at Artifcts we even mistakenly referred to them as finding keys. Oops!

A finding aid is exactly what it sounds like: A tool that helps you locate items within a large collection in a fast and efficient way. A finding aid is a guide that describes the contents of an archival collection. A well-designed finding aid makes quick work of determining the topical relevance of any collection. After all, what good is a collection if discoverability hinders locating and using elements within the collection in the future.

Many of us have experienced the feelings of dread and being overwhelmed upon contemplating many boxes of inherited items that probably have something important contained in them but what and where? Imagine if you had a finding aid that told you exactly what was important and where you could locate it!

This is the magic of what finding aids do.

To a large degree, information within a finding aid is standardized per guidelines from the Society of American Archivists, “Describing Archives: A Content Standard,” better known simply as DACS. Standardization means a professional could work with or for any gallery, library, archive, or museum (aka GLAM) and their collections without much difficulty. They might simply display the information differently than one’s accustomed to.

A finding aid would have information such as: reference code, title, date, extent, name of creator, description, dates, and location. Does that list look familiar? If you Artifct, it should… 

For those of us who didn’t go to Library Science school, in our daily lives we probably do not want to think about taxonomies, metadata, bytes of storage, or even finding aids. We want to enjoy and share the meaning behind the items we’ve collected and ensure the stories and value behind them live on!

Enter Artifcts: Solving Age Old Problems of Finding Aids for Every-Day Collectors 

What we created at Artifcts is the solution to several age-old problems of finding aids in an individual and family-friendly fashion. And this means great things for you all!  While finding aids are brilliant tools for professionals, they are disconnected from how most of us describe and catalog the ‘why’ of our collections. We need more multitasking support in our lives.

Here’s how you can use Artifcts to preserve the history and the value of your collections beyond the constraints of traditional finding aids.

Use those QR codes.

If you were to work with a professional appraiser, archivist, or collections manager of any type, they will likely offer as part of their services a description of the collection and list organizing the inventory within your collection, a finding aid of some sort. But how do you link that list to your physical collection? At Artifcts, you can print a QR code or use Artifcts QR code stickers to link the physical and the digital.

music box with Artifcts QR code on the bottom of the base

An Artifcts QR code unlocks the story and value!

Record your stories.

Move beyond “scope notes” and “meta data” inherent to the archivist’s expertise – “This is a 19th-century {name of item}” – and breathe life, context, and personal meaning into the objects in your collection, e.g. “This is what Great Great Grandma brought from France when she moved to New York. And I’m giving it to you now.”  

Artifcts offers the options to share your story, indicate what you want to do with items in the future, and supply critical other information like where on earth you’ve stored the item in your home or elsewhere and the supporting documents (receipts, appraisals, and more). 

Connect the dots.

We typically describe each Artifct you create as connecting the dots, because only you know how photos of those specific items relate to shape a story or history. But we help you go a step further, too. You can use our @ feature to cross reference one Artifct with another, tying together pieces of a collection and pieces of a story that others may not otherwise realize relate.  

Description field on Artifcts with menu open showing options for linking with @

Simply type @ as you add the story or description to your Artifct to link to other Artifcts.

Leverage your community.

Let’s not forget the value in sharing and collaboration to learn more about items in your collections. Through Artifcts Circles and the option to give ‘Edit’ permission to other paid Artifcts members, you can crowdsource information from your loved ones and experts alike to capture important details about your collections that may add historical and family history information as well as increase the value, too. 

Preserve what is.

Add the photos, videos, and original documents you have to your Artifcts. There’s a spot dedicated to securely preserve each as is. No compression. No conversion. What you upload is what you can always download again, too.

In our spring 2024 series finale of Evenings with Artifcts, our expert guests shed light on the 'why' and 'what' of collections.

Ensure that if you work with an appraiser or other collections manager in the future, they provide documentary support through Artifcts, so that you can protect and share the value of your collections with friends and family as well as knock off those “to dos” with your insurance company, financial planner, and estate attorney. 


You may also be interested in these ARTIcles by Artifcts:

What to Consider When You Plan to Donate Art and Other Collectibles

From Rare Art to Family Heirlooms: Tips From a Master as You Consider Selling Your 'Stuff'

Everything You Wanted to Know About Appraisals but Were Afraid to Ask

How to Artifct that Collection

© 2024 Artifcts, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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Artifcts® Platform Now Supports Publishing to Custom-Designed Books with Partner Akin

Whether you think about photo books as unique and personalized gifts or dream of publishing a life memoir, we love our books! Today Artifcts announced a new partnership with Akin ( to offer simple, custom designed books to Arti Community members who wish to publish their Artifcts to books. 

You need only look at the explosive growth of photo book companies to support everything from build-your-own to instant print from Instagram or your phone to know how much we love to have and to hold books. 

Together, Artifcts and Akin have made it simple and affordable to publish a custom-designed, premium quality, personalized book of your Artifcts.  

“Not everyone enjoys spending hours combing through photos, uploading them into software, stressing over layouts, colors, and font choices,” commented Artifcts Co-founder Ellen Goodwin. “Our partnership with Akin means you can simply choose the Artifcts you want to publish, share them privately with Akin, and they’ll lay out the book in the template of your choice and ship it off to you! The whole process for our members takes minutes!” 

Artifcts excels in innovation that places the needs of its Arti Community members first. People expect to share their stories with meaningful context that includes photos, audio, and video. Artifcts has ensured this promise translates to printed books, too. Unlike a standard photo book, for every Artifct you publish, you can include a QR code that allows the viewer to scan and access additional photos and video tied to the story. Your book can come alive. 

“We don’t want our members to worry about the book creation process. We want people to enjoy spending time reliving their stories, and recording what they value most,” said Artifcts Co-founder Heather Nickerson. 

For more information, visit Concierge & Other Professional Services or review the FAQs available at 


© 2024 Artifcts, Inc. All Rights Reserved. 

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Not Sure What to Write? Tips from Author Jeff Greenwald

He's authored 1000s of articles, several books, and what's maybe the first known travel blog. And during the Fall 2022 series of Evenings with Artifcts Jeff Greenwald shared with us simple but powerful tips, and a healthy dose of perspective, to help us craft our own stories behind the objects of our lives.  

Watch the full Evenings with Artifcts event here.

  • It is hard to write about an object with no personal meaning but even harder when it has tremendous personal meaning. Bear that in mind and go easy on yourself. 

  • Start with something true. This is the trick to writing anything nonfiction. For example, start with a little line about where you got the object: “I bought this in a street market in Istanbul.” And from there go on to describe the scene a little bit and what happened there that connects you with the object.  

Start with something true.

  • Other starters for your Artifcts:  

        • Where were you when you acquired the object? 
        • Was it a gift? Who gave it to you? Tell a bit about them. What was your relationship with them that they felt they should give you a gift like that? “The moon Rocket was a gift for my friend Dave Mccutcheon, and he and I have been friends for many years and share a love of robots and spaceships and dinosaurs... all those things we loved when we were kids.” 
        • Why is it important to you?
        • What feelings does it evoke in you?
  • If a story comes to mind, you can just start jotting it down anywhere. Let your thoughts go where they will. It can be a collection of random thoughts that you can look at later and put together into some sort of a story structure. 

  • We all have stories. Writers block comes from our internal critic. It challenges you with, “Why would anybody want to read it? What could you have to say? What makes you think you're so great that anyone should listen to anything you're telling them?” You have to tell yourself, “I have a right to do this because I’m a human being with a story, and the story deserves to be told whether or not you, my internal critic, thinks that it does.” Push the internal critic aside. 
I’m a human being with a story, and the story deserves to be told.
  • If you value the stories and need motivation to begin capturing and preserving those stories with Artifcts, make a deal with yourself like Jeff did. Jeff made a pact to give away the objects once their stories were told. Maybe you’ll choose to Artifct twice per week. Or perhaps you’ll start with those items that are most meaningful to you.  

  • A bit of advice Jeff shared from esteemed author Kurt Vonnegut: Write your stories as though you are writing them for one person, as if you are telling this person each of the stories. It gives all the stories a similar tone, a singular voice. 

  • Always include when and where the object was acquired. These are important details.

  • Struggling with a title? Write out 10 of them. It will help you to start to shape your story, too.

Our stuff, the objects that we collect, that inspire us, they are really not what's important. We do not need to keep them. The only thing that is important are the stories, and the only way to keep the stories is to tell them.


© 2024 Artifcts, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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