Calling All Pickers: You Can Come Out of the Closet Now

Are you a picker? Before you say “no,” look around the house. Is there anything there that came off of someone else’s curb? Maybe more than one item? Oh yeah, you’re a picker. Don’t worry, the present state of the economy has made picking almost cool.

Before I go on, let me confess that I have been a picker for years. I come by it genetically: my mother was a great picker. This was back in the day when it wasn’t common. Trash was trash. Except for the antique furniture and fine china that my mother would find. She had a knack. It embarassed me as a child. When she pulled that big station wagon up to a curbside find, I would slump down and put my hand over my face. I wasn’t so ashamed years later when she furnished my first apartment for free.

For me, it started out with yard sales. I loved getting a great deal on something I needed. When the price of books escalated, I found that I could get so many titles slightly used for a fraction of the original cost.

Eventually, being a decorative painter, I started picking up small items off of the curb. I was amazed at what a fresh coat of paint and a tightening of the hardware could do for a piece of furniture with good bones. I was hooked. I worked part-time in an antique and vintage store, so I began to meet other pickers. Now, it seems that pickers are everywhere. It has become a competitive sport. We compare our latest picks, and brag about our best finds. They say that almost anything you want can eventually be found in someone’s trash, and I’ve come to believe that this is true. I am continually stunned at what people will pitch to the curb.

Is there a downside? Well, I do live in the northeast. Picking took on a new hazard when bedbugs arrived in the area. I would NEVER pick upholstered furniture, bedding, or most anything that is cloth. Even furniture and small items have to go to the garage and be thoroughly cleaned and disinfected before they are allowed near the house. It’s just common sense.

My Mom got to see the beginning of my foray into picking before she passed away. I’m sure she was amused—and maybe even proud. I’ll never be as good at it as she was—-but then again, I have more competition. The current recession has ushered in a whole new crop of people who are discovering the art of picking.

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