Saturday, August 16, 2008

"Curb Picking" or Recycling for extra money by Walt Barrett

Back in the nineteen forties I got my first bicycle when a bunch of my young teen age friends, whom were just as poor as I was, introduced me to the city dump in Pawtucket, Rhode Island. We managed to find enough trashed bikes to make one good one. That was an eye opening experience for me. When I was a struggling young Airman in the USAF stationed in California during the Korean War, oh sorry, police action, I quickly learned that the base land fill was a veritable gold mine.
My wife and I were a very young married couple with no money. So I went back to the landfill and got bureaus, a book case and several other pieces of otherwise very expensive furniture. We always managed to put money in the bank when others around us were broke.
Now there is a new twist to this whole subject. I was reminded of all this the other day while driving through a fairly upscale neighborhood. It was trash day and I was marveling at some of the items that people had just set out on the curb for pickup. Then I spotted two ladies in their late thirties or so with a Van pulling a trailer that had been made by stripping down an old pop up tent camper. They were busily going from pile to pile in front of each home, picking off the best items, and popping them into the rapidly filling up trailer and van. At that moment I was instantly transported back sixty years to my first profitable experience at "Dump Picking" as we used to call it in those days. It also reminded me that it was not without its hazards either, as I still have the scars on my ankles where I sunk into a pit of hot ashes from coal that was still burning underground. That is a permanent memory I can assure you! I later found out that some other unfortunate kid had died that way several years before.
Well, back to the ladies who were "Curb Picking." They were neat and clean looking and dressed very nicely, and very dignified looking. considering their line of work. Their van didn't look too shabby either. I have seen a lot of this "Curb Picking" in recent years and have found that many of these items are sold at flea markets, and on sites like EBay for a tidy profit.
One more example is a guy I know who just pick up broken lawn mowers on trash day. Many of them just have a faulty wire on the kill switch and he fixes that problem and sells them for $25.00 each. Others need different parts like wheels and carburetors etc. , so he cannibalizes them from more severely damaged mowers. So even his replacement parts are free. By the way, there's nothing wrong with buying a used, repaired mower or garden tractor. You can save a lot of money, and cut down on the space taken up in the landfill.
Well "Curb Picking" is a way to start your own business with absolutely no money, and whats wrong with that? I still get tempted myself on days when I decide to drive my pickup truck!