Since I can remember, I’ve thought myself a treasure hunter of sorts. When I was nine. living in the once small town of Plano, Texas, I would scrounge through the trash bins after a tenant had moved out from the apartment complex where we stayed. I was looking for discarded treasures to take back to our secret club house. Yes. I…, was a dumpster diver. Really, it wasn’t as disgusting as it sounds. And no, my mother didn’t know and would have pitched a fit if she’d discovered what I’d been up to. But I did come across some pretty neat stuff. A coconut carved to look like a monkey and oriental wind chimes, to name a few. These were valuable finds to me and my sisters and that hunt was among the first in a series of treasure seeking quests that I have continued to pursue.
Now, don’t think that I still dumpster dive, I’ve since given that up; though I did rescue from the alley, the leather topped, mahogany desk that I am writing from. Does being next to a dumpster count?
So it’s no surprise that one of my most favorite things to do is Thrift Store shopping. The hunt…, then the discovery of something really cool, priced at pennies of it’s actual value. That is what I find so exciting. I compare it to archeology. I’m digging through the discards of civilization looking for valuable relics. Well, sometimes they’re only valuable to me but at other times they’ve been valued by others. Oh, yes! I have made a little money selling my finds…, he, he, heee… And guess what? It’s good for the environment. You know, recycle and reuse, baby.
I do have one particular shop that I like to go to but I will not be sharing that information with you. I don’t need anymore competition for the treasures that may turn up there. But there are plenty more of these types of stores to choose from all across the country, each with the possibility of possessing that matching plate to your Grandmother’s china or that Oscar De La Renta gown that could be worth hundreds. (I did find one of those. Made a few bucks when I sold it too!) I’ve also acquired items worthy of gifting and even a wedding dress for a friend.
Be warned. You must check, very, very carefully, what you intend to buy. If the plate has a chip or a crack, it’s valueless…, leave it. If an item has obvious repairs, it’s worth $0. And on clothing, don’t go by the marked size only. Check to see that it’s not mis-sized or hasn’t been shrunk in the wash. (This is where I go off on a rant. People! The care instructions are on the tag for a reason. Read them! If it says dry-clean only, don’t throw it in the washing machine. Duh!) And if it’s vintage, the sizing measurements are not the same as we use today.
Of course, restraint must be applied, so that you don’t end up living like a pack rat with shit stacked up to the ceiling. That’s never good. My philosophy is that if I can’t find an immediate use for it, gift it or sell it immediately then I don’t buy it no matter how wonderful I think it is. Leave it for the next treasure hunter.
- Scavenger Hunt: Ethics, Etiquette and Legalities of Dumpster Diving, Etc. (savings.com)
- Dumpster-diving prof visits Fredericton (cbc.ca)