Also called curb crawling, dumpster diving, trash trawling. It's one of the things I enjoy about spring, summer and fall as neighbors far and wide clean out their stuff. There is a strong custom around here to put things out to the curb for trash pickup (we're lucky in that our town will pick up most anything you put down there - old appliances, construction debris, furniture, dead televisions and even old tires) and have it taken away by someone who is deliberately or serendipitously cruising around looking for cast off bargains.
We also look for cut down hardwood trees to help fill Erin and Mike's woodpile. There are lots of locust trees around here -- the wood is incredibly heavy and hard but the trees themselves are little more than way overgrown weeds. The wood is great for their wood burning stove.
I must admit that we have done our share of curb shopping over the past few years, especially in finding great outdoor toys for Lucy and Emily. We've found perfectly good Step 2, Fisher Price and Little Tykes things including a complete kitchen for playing outdoors, a slide, an adjustable basketball hoop, two-children cars (not the motorized kind), a picnic table, dolly strollers and a jungle gym climbing thing that locks together and stands about three to four feet tall.
What deals! If we had paid for them we'd have spent upwards of $750 but got them for free or virtually free (we did pay our neighbors $40 for the climbing thing). Johnnie found an entire metal swing set at the curb two summers ago. We're hoping the girls are old enough this summer for it to be put up so they can play on it.
Johnnie once found a console television on the curb, came back and loaded it up. He fixed it for 25 cents by wiring a new plug on the electrical cord. He used it for years until we combined our households and had an excess of televisions.
A charity I work with used to hold rummage sales and I loved having the opportunity to find things for the girls before the bounty was set out for the public to buy. We bought a Tuggy tugboat that our son-in-law Mike fills each summer with ice cold water from their well so the girls can play in and around it to cool off.
In a former life when we lived in Minnesota, I furnished a cabin we had along Lake Pepin (part of the Mississippi River) almost completely with things I found at garage sales and along curbs. It really does bear out the saying that one person's junk is another person's treasure.
So I'm already scanning the piles at the curb as I drive, waiting for perfectly good cast offs to appear. I guess it's another version of recycle, repair and reuse, huh?