Residents find treasure among the trash at home exchange

A Salvage Bazaar

“Costco East,” exclaimed a woman gleefully as she pulled away with her latest finds from the home exchange area at the East Hampton Town
Recycling Center.

Fridays and Saturdays, the town lets residents drop off useable items they don’t want, but others might. The home exchange area with a metal roof and giant columns near the dump exit attracts people waiting eagerly to see what they can salvage.

On a recent rainy Friday, the area bustled with happy scavengers like Pete Kazura, a 76-year-old retired schoolteacher, who marvels at what he and others can retrieve. That day, he said, he watched one family scoop up a Stickley brand chest of drawers worth $2000.

“It’s amazing what comes in here,” said Kazura, ticking off items such as signed first edition books, volumes with cash hidden in the pages, paintings, and jewelry. Among his past finds, a set of Bose speakers and an inflatable bounce house for his grandkids.

By Kazura’s count, there are 20 to 30 regulars who share “a lot of camaraderie.” He said he had never seen any fights over items because “people get along great.” The facility is self-policing as there are no town employees assigned there.

“We help each other here,” explained “Joe,” a 66-year-old self-described abstract artist, who declined to give his last name. “I do art, so I’m looking for stuff I can use.”

“Look,” he exulted, showing off a cardboard box filled with slim artist brushes and paint.

Like Joe, many people sought anonymity. “I don’t want to be known as a dump queen,” explained one woman. “It helps when you have a truck with an eight-foot bed,” she confided as she loaded up some discarded light fixtures.

Earlier, a large panel truck pulled up and workmen began unloading items being emptied from a house that had been sold. Wooden furniture in spotless condition, a brass bed shining like new, and a half dozen metal chandeliers were all up
for grabs.

Off the water because the day’s weather was too nasty, fisherman Clint Bennett, 60, of East Hampton said, like many on the scene, he had stopped in “to see what’s here.” Bennett said he wished the exchange was also open Sunday when “a lot of good stuff goes over the wall.”

After 3 PM, anything not taken is scooped up by a payloader and
disposed.

The entire recycling center is closed Wednesday. Craig Fick, a labor crew leader at the center, said he would love to see the area open more frequently, but it would require more personnel than the 19 the operation has now.