New Yorkers cash in on growth of 'stooping' phenomenon
NEW YORK - A table-top foosball game is a rare find unless you're Bronwyn Tarboton and simply know where to look.
"We were walking around just looking at stuff and it was just sitting on 79th Street on top of a bunch of trash bags," she said.
Bronwyn is a so-called stooper — a city dweller who searches city streets looking for household items thrown away by fellow New Yorkers. Stooping exploded during the pandemic last year as residents changed apartments or left New York City completely.
Last summer, Bronwyn started posting her finds on her social media accounts and made money by selling them.
"My photo storage was full on my phone and so I started just saving the pictures on Instagram, deleting them on my phone," Bronwyn said. "And then friends started following it and saying, 'I'll buy it.'"
Her unexpected financial success came at a crucial moment. She was an understudy with the Broadway musical "Frozen" but has been unemployed since Broadway shut down. As she awaits its reopening, she plans to continue stooping, which includes rehabbing and then selling some items she finds.
Stooping has also led to other business enterprises. Shelby Veazey started a company called StooberNYC.
"So it's the stoop-to-stoop Uber," she said. "So what I do is I do furniture rehoming from stoop to stoop."
Shelby charges a flat rate to deliver items to buyers who do not have their own cars. Since she launched StooberNYC last fall, she has amassed more than 12,000 Instagram followers. Her only rules are no mattresses, no cash transactions, and no stairs.
"My grandmother always says, 'I'm worried about your back, I'm worried about your back,' and I said, 'Yeah but, you know, I can't wear a back brace — it isn't cute,'" she said.
Shelby earns between $300 to $500 a day and is so busy she just bought a second cargo van. She has one full-time employee and a few contractors. She said she is even hiring drivers to help her handle all the deliveries.