Salvage deals keep materials out of landfills

MANATEE — The middle-aged disabled woman drove from Arcadia to Bradenton for the deal.

Her hour-long trek ended at Curlie Joe’s Salvage on 15th Street East and was worth it for the woman on a fixed income.

Her mission: to buy a glass-etched, hanging, dining room lamp.

The one she wanted retails at about $250.

So when the store manager offered her a used one for $25, she couldn’t pass it up.

“It was in good shape,” said Peter Jarosik, manager of Curlie Joe’s Salvage.

Not only did the woman benefit from the deal, so did the environment.

Curlie Joe’s is one of many area businesses that salvage materials from places such as construction sites that would normally be thrown into landfills.

“We remove the salvageable stuff from there or from the homes that would be demolished,” said Jarosik.

Sinks, toilets and cabinets.

Doors, fences and light fixtures.

Jarosik brings the items back to the salvage retail outlet in wBradenton and sells them dirt cheap.

“We clean it up and we sell it to people on a budget,” Jarosik said. “So if you have a young couple who just bought a home, they can come buy items like kitchen sets for much less.

“Making green while going green, it’s capitalism with a twist,” Jarosik said. “We’re giving people a good deal and helping the environment. It’s good for the consumer and good for the environment because it doesn’t go into a landfill.”

Curlie Joe’s even sells mis-tinted paints at a fraction of the store price.

“Most of it is 100 percent reusable — some is even brand new in the container because someone refused the color,” Jarosik said.

Salvage providers in every state offer everything from walnut flooring to granite counter tops.

And just because a material is reused doesn’t mean it will necessarily look reused, said Jesse White, owner of Sarasota Architectural Salvage.

“We are trying to show people that just because it’s antique or used that doesn’t mean anything,” White said. “It can be of higher quality and lower cost because you are putting some of your own labor into it to make it right.”

White, who was an environmental consultant before the salvage business, said his company doesn’t just keep things out of landfills, they also find things locally and elsewhere that otherwise would have been destroyed.

“I am very much in tune to how our choices make a difference,” he said. “The business was born out of that passion for the environment as a well of helping to keep items out of landfills and to get items they desire for less cost.

Take an iron gate for example, White said.

It can cost from $300 to $3,000 to have it custom made and installed.

“But something in our store could run anywhere from $30 to $1,000 and might represent a $2,000 savings,” he added.

Another added bonus: “A lot of times with older materials you’re getting a higher quality product,” White said.

Not only do area salvage retailers sell used items, some fabricate new items out of old material.

“We might take flooring we salvage from a local building, that would have gone to a landfill, rework it and make it into a table top or whole table,” White said. “That ends up being a wonderful resuse that’s very popular and very affordable.”

Items like that tend to sell quickly, White noted, but he said custom orders are available at his shop.

In some cases, area salvagers like Manatee County Habitat for Humanity not only give people good deals and help the environment, they aid people who need affordable homes.

The local Habitat has a warehouse that takes in materials, resells them, then uses the proceeds to build homes for those in need of affordable housing, said Larry Stephens, general manager of the Habitat ReStore at 1227 Hardin Ave. in Tallevast.

“When people are doing remodeling, we take the old stuff, then clean it and sell it to the public at a fraction of the cost,” he said. “One of our bigger missions other than building affordable housing is keeping usable products out of the landfills. “

So far they’re doing great. Since the Re-Store opened in November, Habitat has made $170,000 in sales to go toward helping get people into homes, Stephens said.

In addition, volunteers have donated more than 2,000 hours working at the store to help with the processing, the pickup and the donations.