PHILADELPHIA (CBS) –– Mary is a rabid recycler. That’s a good thing. So, it should be no surprise that I often wind up wandering through a whole county’s throw aways and compost heaps. But there’s a flip side to throwing away junk and shrubbery. As the old saying goes, “One man’s junk is another man’s treasure.”. So where can we rid ourselves of things we no longer want but are not appropriate for the home recycle bin. Here’s my favorite.
Take a weekend drive to Pottstown. Cross over the Schuylkill river into South Pottstown. There, on a little, hidden, dead-end street, surrounded by comfortable homes you will find the Oz of castoffs, everything from crates of corks to a broken down, cast iron cooking stove from another era. It’s a place to recycle plastic buckets, flower pots, rain barrels, ancient skis, Styrofoam and an amazing collection of junk, you never knew existed. But many of the recyclers and strollers here also find gems to take away at giveaway prices. Much of it will be used for art projects and re-purposed for decorative displays. The Wizards of this recycling Oz are volunteers who are dedicated to protecting the planet by disposing of man-made litter in the most environmentally sound way, possible. In other words they try to morph it into something usable or make it vanish.
If you go:
Wear old clothes. Junk isn’t clean.
Parking is limited, so prepare to get in and out quickly
Things may be piled on top of other things. Treasure might be buried.
Do make a parking lot donation.
OTHER PLACES FOR CHEAP STUFF
Central and Upper Montgomery County have long been weekend destinations for bargain seekers, flea market pickers and country drive roadies. Among the prime go-to spots is the sprawling indoor-outdoor Zerns Market in Gilbertsville. Zerns groupies had a scare last year when the place went up for sale, but all is well. The Pennsylvania Dutch farm stalls, antique cubbies, spice store, flea market tables, counter eateries and the iconic barber shop are still drawing their dedicated fans. If items seem to be randomly scattered here and there, it just adds to the browsing experience. But there are bargains and surprises to be had and some of the dealers will buy your castoff stuff at fairly reasonable prices. Last year I sold some well used electronics and walked off with enough cash to buy someone else’s junk, and had enough jingle left over to bankroll a lunch.
Charity related thrift shops throughout the region can clothe an army, fill a library with books, fuel a home entertainment center with electronics and recordings, outfit swarms of youth sports teams and fill kitchens and dining rooms with cookware and decorative tchotchkes – all at bargain basement prices. One change in recent years is the practice of trolling for highly valuable items, whose value went unrecognized by the charity operators. They wised up and now screen the items before they get to the sales floor. One friend of mine, when he travels to warm vacation climes, doesn’t take any luggage. He saves the baggage fees by stopping at the nearest thrift shop after landing and buying what he needs. Then on departure, he donates it all back and takes a tax deduction Two thrift stores where I might occasionally be found are Liberty Thrift in Evansburg and Goodwill at Trappe. Both are augmented by my own need to clean the clutter.
PERKIOMEN AUCTION AND SALES
2345 Upper Ridge Rd.
Perkiomenville, PA 18074
If you’re retired or just have time on your hands. The colorful Perkiomenville flea market and auction site is open every Monday – and only on Mondays. The action is in the morning. Tables are lined up over the sprawling gravel covered field, holding everything from antique tools to toys. All the usual flea market suspects are there, fingering some seldom found treasures like knives and butcher blocks from long gone meat stores. But the attraction is the auction that draws in the browsers like a boardwalk barker with single items or entire boxes of jettisoned junk that often contain one or more treasures. Just take a drive up route 29 on a Monday morning and leave some room in the trunk.