Thrift Haul: Trash Hunting for Treasure

[Library Vintage Art Print (Book Page), Southern Crossing Antique Mall]

I didn't participate in traditional thrifting this weekend, and I probably won't for the next couple of weeks. My thrifting crew and I have a new habit; dumpster diving. We've been at it since December, and we've found so much treasure it would be too exhausting to document it all. This post will give you a sneak peek into some of our treasure hunting exploits.

[Japanese Kokeshi Doll, Southern Crossing Antique Mall]

But first, it's confession time. When you set up shop in an antique mall as a vintage lover, you're going to get tempted. I picked up three things from the antique store during my time there, and I know these items won't be the last. When and item speaks to me and its the right price, I can't resist...

The kokeshi doll and the library art print above were two items I'd been admiring since the day I moved into my booth. I finally gave in and bought them over the weekend, before they're gone for good!

[Collector's Edition, Jackson 5 Greatest Hits, Antique Store]

This is a gorgeous record, featuring incredibly 80s artwork on the front. The back features an early photo of the Jackson 5. It's a little heartbreaking that it's not factory sealed with the white glove and bonus poster it was intended to come with! It features an amazing selection of hits, including two songs I don't already have in my growing Jackson 5 Records collection.

[Going to Grandma's Vintage Suitcase, Dumpster Find]

I was incredibly excited to pull this out of a dumpster this weekend. The back features a cryptic note scrawled in a child's messy handwriting. It reads, "This is mine, mine! Don't you ever think of stealing this, ever!" I have to decide if I'll clean this up and sell it or find a use for it at home.

[Books, Trash Finds]

We found these books and many, many more as trash finds. We sold a few for profit. We've kept a few of the best ones, and we're donating the rest. 

We truly have encountered too more trash finds than I could document, but among our favorites from just this weekend were:

  • Big bag of clothes including four beautiful skirts and a trogdor the burninator shirt!
  • Sewing box and art supply box we're going to make over for my friend Mike
  • String of beautiful high quality blue lights
  • Unintentionally hilarious magnets
  • Long brown winter coat
  • And much more...

It's hard to believe someone would trash these perfectly good treasures, not a single book was damaged or mildewed. As long as people are trashing these excellent items, we'll be around to rescue them.
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22 comments:

  1. Throwing away a book is committing a crime of some kind, I think. There are so many things to do with a book (give it away, yardsale it, repurpose it) that to just consign it to a dumpster is, indeed, criminal. Good thing you're out there to the rescue. Not sure if I'd wear clothing that came out of a dumpster, but then again, I wear brand new clothes treated with chemicals, so I guess what the hell, huh?

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  2. I am amazed that people put so much stuff in dumpsters! What is up with that? Glad you are saving it! So where are these dumpsters full of stuff? Apartments? Curious for sure.

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  3. Vintage Christine: The clothing was in a white plastic bag on the curbside of a house in my neighboorhood. On the way home from the Asian grocery...we pounced :)

    To us, clothes from the trash is the same as clothes from the thrift store. They're both used, and you have to wash them either way.

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  4. Linda: I've heard apartments are treasure troves, but we haven't checked those out yet. We're looking in dumpsters behind businesses and curbside watching in our neighboorhoods.

    All of those books were in the paper recycling bin behind a local business!

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  5. How do you know what dumpsters to look in...or do you look in all? Do you actually go IN the dumpster or look over and see if you can see anything? This is very interesting.

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  6. That's my thing too, I don't know were to start! And I live in Phoenix I know a lot of people dumpster dive here so i kind of feel like I'm wasting my time. But I can't help feeling like I might be missing out on a huge resource.

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  7. Wow, that's incredible. Ocassionally you see a skip with something interesting in here - but more often they tend to be full of plasterboard and other building debris. Have you ever been challenged when going through bins? ID theft is a big fear in London so people would probably be very suspicious.

    Saying that, back when I was at University Halls, at the end of term we would check the big communal bins and found an absolute ton of stuff - lots brand new. Apparently a lot of the foreign students would just throw things away rather as rooms had to be empty during the holidays and they couldn't fly it all home. Guess the walk into a city charity shop was just too far...

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  8. The closest we've come to dumpster diving is picking up stuff curbside. You have to be really careful over here, as if cops/people see you, I think they can cite you (especially for digging in the recycle bin). Never tried biz dumpsters but have heard it's really good, but for newer stuff.

    My brother, who lives in an apt near the beach, says it is unbelievable what people throw away. Flat screen TVs, treadmills, new George foreman grills... he said it's because those apartments are constantly changing occupants and since the people are often more well off, they'll just leave stuff rather than haul it to the new place.

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  9. I love all the questions. I'll definitely write a follow-up blog post to answer them all.

    To get started, Google "dumpster diving, your city name", there may be tips online. Otherwise, dumpster hop late at night and see what you can uncover. Open the lids to peek in, or jump in if you desire. You can get goods either way. Wear gloves if the trash freaks you out. Bring a flashlight or two!

    Like A La Modern says, it's disgusting what people just throw out. You'll wish you could rescue it all.

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  10. Oh heck yes! I heart dumpster diving. I often take "the long way home" in order to drive past a few frequent hot spots. I have found some of my coolest stuff in the trash! Viva la Dumpster Diving!!!

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  11. Dumpster diving is something I'd be interested in but with the bed bug epidemic up here in the Northeast it's not a good idea. Occasionally I'll find something in the dumpster of my apartment building. My apartment is closest to the dumpster, so I usually get first dibs.

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  12. OOOOHHHH I love that Library poster!!! I teach 2nd grade it that is just so GORGEOUS!!!
    I almost picked up an end table this morning at my apartment dumpster, I've been looking for one to put my vintage typewriter on (paid $10 at a flea market for a 1970's Adler manual typewriter for my classroom) but it was a bit too wobly and I just don't have the time to repair it. But for someone who would have the time they looked to be solid wood!!! not particle board.

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  13. Holy cow! Dumpter diving - do tell, please. What amazing finds. Is it messy and incredibly cruddy or just a bit dirty? Oh, and see you've already answered with basic info. Thanks Van!

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  14. looking forward to learning more van! crazy finds you've got there.

    (and you working at an antique booth has the same temptations i imagine as if i were to work in a fabric or yarn shop... i'd spend half my pay!).

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  15. I've never tried it, but I hear such stories!

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  16. I love the lil suitcase, would love to see the hand writing part of it. Books <3 how can anyone throw them?? Even the ones I don't love I can't throw I just give 'em away.

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  17. I adore the library print! Wouldn't have been able to resist it as well :)

    I'm glad you got to save the books - donating them is a great idea!

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  18. Pearlann & Katie: I think the print perfectly recreates the serene creative mood we felt as kids at the library. It's a new favorite to admire at my house.

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  19. I spent many fun times in my youth dumpster diving. Some tips are apartments around the change of month weekend, more people moving in and out. Best months around here are June and end of August. (school terms and navy duty changes) Dumpsters at storage units can yield furniture , books, sports equipment, old grills.
    Many businesses will not allow it due to insurance risks. Here most business dumpsters are actually locked.
    The major colleges in this state have "picking" weekends where people are encouraged to set goods on the curb and go pick up "new" things from your neighbors trash.
    YouTube has a collection of videos on curbside picking.

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  20. Ooooh, you are so a girl after my own heart! I am a hard core thrift-er too! I love vintage and I love to buy secondhand to do my little bit of good for the environment.

    I have not been dumpster diving, but I have been wanting to. I just don't know where to go around here. It amazes me that people would throw out books....hello, haven't they ever heard of goodwill? I am such an avid reader, I could never throw my books in the trash.

    I adore the little library print and love that it portrays diversity! I also linked up to the penny worthy project. I have lots of thrift finds on my blog.
    xo,
    Sena

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  21. I've never dumpster-dove (?? is that right? dove? dived? diven? ha ha) myself, but it's absolutely crazy the things that people throw away. It's so sad that we've essentially created this 'everything is disposable' culture... kudos to Van for shifting the paradigm!

    That said, I know of friends who dumpster-dive for food scraps to use for compost or to give to their backyard chickens. The best advice? Bring a headlamp!

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  22. Wow, great pieces. I have some vintage art prints that I want to get appraised. Is there a national chain of appraisers or anything like that to help me find out what these are worth?

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