Following up on one of my latest blog posts, The Secrets of an Urban Picker, I have been getting a lot of questions regarding the difficulty of finding quality things to turn into projects, so I thought I’d address this with another post.
One of the greatest things about living in a big cramped city is the availability of tons and tons of quality curb-crap. Piles of discarded loot fill the alleys and dumpsters to the brim every week, only to be flushed away and filled back up again the following week. If you’ve read my article, The Secrets of an Urban Picker, you will understand a little bit about this problem. I will continue to write about this topic and flush out some interesting ideas in the coming posts.
This post deals with an issue that many people have and that is they cannot find anything worth picking in the city. First, this seems impossible to me, but looking harder at the issue, not everyone can look at a pile of muddy steel and see a 1940’s typewriter table. Some people just see muddy steel. But alas, you are not alone! Sometimes you are looking on the wrong day or in the wrong locations or after a Good Will truck has recently descended upon the carnal scene.
It is this very reason that places like Community Forklift exist. According to their website, Community Forklift is a secondhand shop selling a variety of building materials & furniture including cabinets & tables. Basically, they are an architectural salvage shop located near enough to Washington DC to be accessible to most everyone. What they excel in is bringing the hard-to-find loot to one central location and charging you for it.
It was at this very shop that I began my journey of furniture restoration many years ago. Back then, the store was just getting started and was selling amazing antiques and salvage for super cheap prices. Since then, and with the explosion of the DIY scene and YouTube, they have seen a steady rise in customers, which in turn drives up the prices and lowers my expectations.
To say it plainly, I love architectural salvage shops. They provide you with a great selection without having to actually dive in dumpsters looking for rusty gold. On the other hand, by scouring the city to sell their much love needed items back to me at a 100% markup makes me want to stay grimy in the alleys and dumpsters. Don’t get me wrong, I whole heartedly support enterprises like this, and I might even like to own an architectural salvage shop in the future. My one beef is that the prices have gone up to a point that making a living selling upcycled furniture has gotten harder over the past few years. So while I am happy to see such a rise in the DIY community, it also makes it harder to find the good stuff for cheap cheap and make some dinero.
So every time that someone asks me for more advice because they don’t have the creativity or time to pick alleys and dumpsters, I tell them about places like Community Forklift, Habitat for Humanity ReStores and other local architectural salvage shops, or “picking lite” as I call it. Hopefully by diving into a world of manicured isles and presorted picker gold, they too will get “the sickness” as Jimmy Diresta calls it and will become an urban picker, foregoing the florescent lighting and squeaky second hand walmart carts for the sounds of squealing rats, of stubbed toes on nailed boards, and for the thrill of unearthing a truly godly piece of american historical tradition from a pile of road junk.
The sickness is real.
I hope you enjoyed the read through and learned a little bit about the process. As always, don’t forget to head over to my Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, and Patreon page to show your support so that I can continue to make awesome content like this.
Thanks for reading!