Saturday, January 23

.Be careful what you bring home

Don't bother to read this post unless you've got the junk bug pretty bad...

One of my favorite places to shop is Alleymart.

Chicago's old growth neighborhoods have hundreds of square miles of alleys, and on any given day one can find a variety of interesting things being put out for the sanitation engineers.

Dressers, fans, scooters, rugs, windows, vintage canning jars, tables, doors, you name it, I’ve found it. And I’m just an amateur; I’ve met some professionals with really interesting collections, built over years of picking and scrounging. Several years ago I met a guy at a party, a bit of an odd duck he was. In the course of conversation he explained that he owned two houses: his primary residence was filled to the rafters with things he'd salvaged, and the second house was for his wife to live in.

My main Craigslist source gets great stuff out of alleys, mainly because he has the time and inclination to look. I buy bits of bungalow from him, and the alley is often the best place to get things like original 1920’s medicine cabinets, or spare pieces of vintage trim.

Besides, you can’t beat the price.

The best time to look is usually the day before the regularly scheduled garbage run, though I’ve found stuff anytime. My most recent find came two days after the weekly pickup in our neighborhood.

One block over, and two blocks down, someone set a dresser out. Other than being a well constructed Danish modern dresser, probably vintage 70’s, there’s nothing particularly special about it, except that it will work very well in the toolroom in the basement to provide storage for a variety of supplies. It will replace an old dresser which is falling apart, here's the old dresser:

Why buy racks and cabinets from your local big box hardware outlet? Old furniture makes great storage for the basement, toolroom, or garage.

I noticed the dresser early the other morning when driving home after dropping the kids off at daycare. That’s how I find things, I detour down alleys when I’m not in a particular hurry to get somewhere.

So I got the dolly out of the garage, and hiked the two blocks down and one block over, loaded it up, and brought it home. And here it is installed in the toolroom, filled with plumbing, painting, and electrical supplies.

Alleymart is a great bargain outlet. On a final note, though, you should always carefully inspect any merchandise before you buy it, especially when you are shopping at a store that offers used products. I made sure the dresser was complete, and I checked the drawers before I hauled it home. It appeared empty.

However, when I got it home and pulled out all the drawers to haul it inside, I found that the previous owner had forgotten to remove one particular item before setting it out for collection.

Can you see the cherries embroidered onto the left hip?

I’m wondering if I should return them to their owner.

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