A Toronto Instagram account is helping people furnish their homes with free curbside treasures

You know what they say – one man’s trash is another man’s treasure. Toronto Instagram account Stooping Toronto is taking that to the next level, sharing photos of free curb finds across the city for you to furnish your home with.

The popular submissions-based Instagram page with 25,000 followers has been up and running since December of 2020. Torontonians send in photos with address so that fellow stoopers can rush to the find. Other people’s trash may become the perfect missing piece of furniture in another person’s Toronto abode. The page also shares success photos so that followers can see what the respective finds look like in their new homes.

The two admins behind the Instagram account started the Stooping Toronto page during the pandemic, and have silently watched it take off since. Streets of Toronto spoke with the founders about why Stooping Toronto started and their best advice for thrifty Torontonians on furnishing your apartment for free. Quotes will be attributed to both admins out of a request for anonymity.

The pair say that when the pandemic started, they were living in a small apartment. “We were going on a lot of walks and we saw a lot of stuff that was being thrown out. It was a little sad that a lot of it was just going to the landfill when people could use it,” they say.

They drew inspiration from Stooping NYC, a New York version of the account that was started in 2019. “We tried to see if there was one for Toronto, and there wasn’t. We messaged the stooping New York account and talked to them a little about it. Then we decided to start one here.”

According to Stooping Toronto, when they spoke to the Stooping NYC admins, one of them shared that they were originally from Toronto, and they were excited about one being started here.

Since opening the account, the admins say they’ve received “a lot of positive response.”

“We get a lot of messages from people who are excited about their finds. I think we’ve built a strong community. People submit a lot of #stoopingsuccess stories with images of how they’ve integrated their stooping find into their home. Or people share how they transported their find – like someone took a couch on the subway and there was an article about that,” they say.

Stooping Toronto says many of the people who send items do so while they’re walking their dogs, and their followers range from ages 20 to 50. “We don’t really see a lot of teenagers,” they say.

When it comes to styling your finds, the pair say to decide what theme you want in mind. “There’s a lot of Instagram accounts for interior design inspiration, as well as Pinterest as a good source. Some of our followers are very good at recognizing the quality of an item and whether it’s designer,” they say. “Tiny details might indicate that a piece is made of quality materials.”

Once you identify the item online, they say, you’ll likely find associated photos of that furniture item in a space, and you can use those photos for inspiration.

Read below for the admins’ top tips for stooping in Toronto.

  1. Walk around on garbage day or at the end of the month when people are moving out
  2. Follow @stooping_toronto and turn on notifications!
  3. Walk on the right side of the street because otherwise, you can’t see behind parked cars.
  4. For carrying, it’s helpful if you have something with wheels, like a skateboard or a dolly.
  5. If Ubering, definitely ask your driver and be sure to tip! [Stooping Toronto has a community member who is an uber driver – @festivevantoronto on Instagram, and she helps people pick things up, she has a big wheelchair accessible van.]
  6. Check condo garbage areas, they are often accessible from behind and there’s often a lot of stuff there.
  7. Carry tools (screwdriver or allen key) in case you need to take something apart in order to carry it, or a flashlight for a night find. “Some people always carry a tote bag in case they need to carry something.”
  8. Check to make sure something isn’t irreparably damaged. “A lot of stoopers are pretty handy and are able to re-purpose damaged finds.”
  9. Another good tool is a tape measure to make sure that your find will fit into your home space before you carry it. “Try to measure beforehand if it’s something big.”
  10. If you’re giving stuff away, it’s helpful if there’s a sign on it that says free, or shares some details about the object. Bundle together any detachable accessories so they don’t get lost. And make sure it looks clean before you bring it in your home.
  11. If something is very popular, you have to act fast – small vintage items often go quickly whereas heavy items that require transport may last longer, as well as generic items that can be found elsewhere.

Article exclusive to STREETS OF TORONTO