Junk Week, by Emily Winslow

Growing up in New Jersey, we had “junk week,” I think twice a year. It was when you could put anything you didn’t want anymore out on the curb, and the city would come pick it up. It turned the whole town into one giant free yard sale. Amazing!

My two favorite junk week memories:

1) My elegant mom dragging a mattress across the road calling triumphantly “It’s a Beautyrest!!”

2) Our next door neighbors, rumored to have some association with the Rite Aid drugstore chain, throwing away a mountain of still-in-wrappers cosmetics. I am not kidding when I say the mound was as big as the kind of autumn leaf pile kids gather to jump in, or those drifts of snow made on the side of the road after the plow goes by. Mascara, blush, coconut scented sunscreen, hairbushes, all brand new and untouched. Treasure, I tell you!

It’s not on the same scale, but I like when a whole street gets together to do garage sales all on the same day. That way people who don’t have enough stuff to bother doing a sale of their own still get to go for it, and for buyers it’s fantastic. Twenty years ago I hit one of those for my first apartment, and I still use the baking sheet I got there for 50 cents.

Just yesterday we bought two used DVDs for cheap in a local charity shop: Alien and Spiderman. Movie night tonight!

What are your favorite finds from stuff that other people have discarded?

10 Replies to “Junk Week, by Emily Winslow”

  1. When I lived in Japan, the city did a junk day once a month. And if you know the Japanese, you know they always have to have the latest electronics. So what do they do with the old (really just 1 or 2 years old at most)? They throw it out! We got a tv, vcr, stereo system, rice cooker, and even a camera from junk day. All in perfect working order.

  2. When I was a kid a woman gave me two beautiful surfboards she was going to take to the junk yard. They were brand new and I gave one to my best friend. She said they were just in the way.

  3. When I was young my mom used to work for M&M Mars taking the expired candy out of the stores. We’d eat some of it at home, but she had way too much. Once she filled up a trash bag with it and set it out on trash day. The bag broke before the garbage men got it in the truck. All of the candy ended up in the cab with them instead of in the back of the truck.

  4. Larramie–*I* did, for many years! That’s the wonder of Junk Week. It wasn’t “garbage”; it was just stuff people didn’t need anymore. No ickier to sleep on the neighbors’ mattress than to sleep in a hotel bed!

    Jen–How could you attempt to throw away the candy?? So glad the garbagemen benefited 🙂

    Greg and Lenore—OOOh, GOOD junk! 🙂

    Joelle–It’s the circle of life!

  5. about a year ago, I bought a couch from my next door neighbor who was moving. I put my old sofa and loveseat- the kind with all the pillows- out on the curb. I had gotten that from a previous neighbor too, and had it for many years! Over the course of 24 hours pieces were slowly taken away then they were all gone. About 2 weeks ago, I saw the loveseat out on the curb down the street! They were done with it I guess! It disappeared soon after. 😉

  6. I want that makeup!!
    We have the same thing twice a year in my neighborhood…. people put out great stuff and no one is embarrassed about picking through it. Last year my husband and I almost got a lovely wooden radiator cover – but another neighbor beat us to it while we were getting our car to pick it up! I was really happy once when I put out some very nice kids’ toys our children had outgrown and saw a man come by, fill up his car – and then drive off with his kid smiling through the window.

  7. Junk Day sounds totally great. One Christmas my sister gave me a beat-up Mission-style coat rack that she found abandoned on a street corner in Boston, along with a wood refinishing kit and some cool hooks. I spiffied the coat rack up and it’s beautiful … and still in use!

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