Garbage…the Next Picking Venue?


Can you believe someone threw these away?? These are available in Martin’s Etsy store:

I read a lot of blogs, but perhaps the quirkiest ones are written by folks who pick through garbage for a living…like Martin in Quebec. He has a talent and persistence that has led him to find amazing things in other peoples’ garbage. And I mean seriously amazing–14k gold jewelry, WWII memorabilia, money, and my favorite, antique mother-of-pearl opera glasses. He sells these online and at yard sales.

And Martin’s finds are not an aberration. New York City garbage collectors find amazing things in the trash all the time. They aren’t allowed to keep anything so one worker has gathered them all into one huge room and has curated it into a museum of sorts (not open to the public yet) and it looks amazing. (Well done Nelson!)

But could I pick through someone’s garbage? Will I join others in this adventure?

Probably not.

I think it takes a whole lot of chutzpah. More than I have anyway! (Though I don’t hesitate to slow down for stuff by the side of the road that has a “free” sign!)

But truth be told my favorite picking environment is still a thrift store (with yard sales and estate sales a close second). Lots of stuff to look through and you go at your own pace. And I have found some great stuff…and sold some great stuff with a nice profit. The only problem is that thrift store prices are climbing. The other day I got excited over an English ceramic pitcher with atomic starburst style decoration. So mid-century cool. Turned it over to find it priced at $24.99. Sheesh! But I’ll keep looking for the time being. Hoping to find that undervalued item…like the $17.99 vintage steak knives I sold for $250. My best thrift store sale to date 🙂

How about you? What’s your favorite picking venue?? Ever picked through garbage? Find anything good?


  1. A couple of years ago while visiting my stepson, then in college near Red Hook, NY, my husband and I turned onto a road where a self-storage facility was located to find an impromptu yard sale going on! It was run by a character of a fellow who sold items out of his storage locker during the spring, summer, and early fall, also supplementing his income by painting and general handyman duties. Where did he find his wares? Once a fortnight, he’d have a friend drive him to the end of a Metro-North line, take the train into Manhattan with two rolling suitcases, and pick through the trash! I bought some fabulous 1960’s/70’s costume jewellery, vintage Kent hairbrushes, and other small items which I have sold or will list once I convince myself that I oughtn’t keep them!

    I do trash pick on occasion, but only when items are clearly put out on the street due to someone moving out or designating them as ‘free’ on trash day – no bag opening here! For my stock, I tend to visit small non-profit thrift shops in more established areas, as like you, I’m finding items at my local Goodwills to be increasingly overpriced and/or of poor quality. I am going to try the local Goodwill outlet, though, to see what I can find. Estate sales are where I go to stock up, but YMMV when it comes to realistic pricing. I have my favorite companies whose sales I attend, and they have excellent variety and value at their sales! Happy Picking!


    1. Eleanor, thanks for sharing this! I’m not surprised that the fellow finds great stuff in NYC after seeing what the garbage guys have found!

      I’m getting discouraged at my local Goodwill too…but have found just enough good stuff to keep me going back! I’ve have mixed luck at estate sales. Lots of amazing, beautiful things, but many at the prices I would list them at in my store. 😦 Thinking I might go to more yard sales this year.

      All the best,


  2. While I would never physically go into a dumpster, I have taken stuff that was placed right beside it. My husband found a Big Jim camper toy that was sitting in a trash pile at a church flea market. We cleaned it up and sold it fast. I also like stuff that’s destined for the dumpster. My husband does property maintenance and I’ve helped him clean out many homes and businesses and found some great treasures in the process.


    1. Patricia, same! I just can’t bring myself to go into a dumpster! Though I do like the idea of rescuing things from the trash. What kinds of things have you found in your husband’s property maintenance biz??? – Karen


      1. Hi Karen. I wish I could say I found some very valuable antiques but usually we find a lot of home decor–art, knick knacks and such. I found some gorgeous crystal wine goblets once and a silver retro looking table with two chairs. All of it sells very fast in my booths. The one thing that was vintage was a 1970’s Baltimore Orioles poster that I sold for $75. I love free stuff! 🙂


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