It’s easy to get caught up when you discover a great item, but what happens when you take it home? If it’s a duplicate item, takes up too much space, has little or no resale value and never gets used, it may not be treasure after all. Yes, it can be gratifying to liberate found items from a dumpster, but what is the point if they end up in your trash bin?
It is easy to dismiss tossing out salvaged items since there was no cost involved in procuring it, or was there? Every time you do dumpster diving, you are spending your time looking for items as well as gas money. If you select one item, it takes up room that could have been allocated for something else. And don’t forget the time and cleaning supplies it took to make that find good as new.
7 Questions to Identify Treasure
So how do you make sure you aren’t wasting your efforts on items that are better left in someone else’s dumpster? Before deciding that particular piece of trash is your newest treasure, ask yourself these seven questions.
Do I need it?
It seems obvious, but this is the best place to start. It can be exciting to find something in good shape, so exciting you load it up before even stopping to ask this basic question. Do you really need it?
If it’s a duplicate of something you already have, will never get used or you have no storage space for it, you don’t need it.
Would I want it if it wasn’t free?
Free makes everything look better. You may like it for free, but would you buy in in the store? If the answer is no, then don’t take it home. You’ll end up with clutter that you don’t like or use. Eventually, you will decide you don’t want it any more and it will end up in the trash again.
If you wouldn’t want it an any price, then you shouldn’t take it because it is free. Leave it behind and look for something better.
Will it be useful?
Let’s pretend you’re searching through a dumpster filled with items that once belonged to a chef. You find some oddball kitchen gadget used to make a dish you don’t like. It has no other use than to make food you hate. Do you take it home? Unless you want to resell it or use it as a decoration, the obvious answer is no. Why would you use something to make food you dislike?
This logic applies to any dumpster find. If you can’t think of a way to use it or it has a very specific purpose that you have no use for, skip it.
Can I sell it?
Does the item in question have a resale value? If you said no to the first the first three questions, saying yes to this one could change everything. If you have no use for the item but know others would, consider taking it. This found treasure could turn into actual treasure in your wallet.
This comes with a caveat. You must actually sell it. Don’t take it home and shove it in a corner to take up space. If you know you won’t follow through with selling the item, it won’t turn into much except a dust repository. If that’s the case, walk away. You don’t need it.
Will it be worth the effort of selling it?
So you can sell it, but is it worth it? Factor in the time it will take to clean it up, take pictures and list it online. Now add the time to meet up with someone or go to the post office plus the very real cost of gas or shipping. Do you still want to sell it?
Selling rescued items can lead to a quick profit, but make sure that profits is worth your time, money and cleaning supplies.
Does it need to be fixed or repurposed?
Sometimes an item was thrown away because it is broken or dated. Can you repair it or repurpose it? If the item has potential to be great again or can be transformed into something new, you may want to consider taking it. Finds like these can result in fun projects, great conversation pieces and sometimes big profits.
Just because something needs a little work doesn’t mean it belongs in a landfill. However, you want to make sure you can identify what repairs or makeover will be needed. If it’s broken and you have no idea how to fix it, that’s not the same thing.
Is the cost of repairs worth the time, effort and money?
If you find an expensive item or a damaged one, you can certainly fix it up to keep for yourself or to sell. Before committing to this, do some quick math. How much time will it take? How much do you expect supplies to cost? If you need to pay for repairs, what will that cost?
If the costs outweigh the value of the item, it won’t be worth reselling. If you are keeping it for yourself, it is at your discretion if it is worth the investment. If you can buy the piece in brand new condition for the same price, pass. If there is some special feature or it’s something you can’t find elsewhere, you’ve got a decision to make.
How Do You Decide?
How do you decide which dumpster finds come home with you? Tell us what criteria you use to differentiate trash from treasure.