Stooping is when a person puts an unwanted item out on the street, either for trash or with a “free” sign, encouraging others to take it. It's a common practice in New York, and can sometimes lead to big scores for locals in search of good deals.
Neither rain, nor snow, nor sleet can stop the "Stoopers," or "Stoobers," of New York City.
They will travel to any length through any weather condition to snap up the perfect addition to their home.
So who, exactly, are "Stoopers"? And what, exactly, is stooping?
Why Stooping Is a Not-So-Uncommon Pastime for New Yorkers That Inspires Competition and Community
Stooping is when someone puts an unwanted item out on the street, either for trash or with a “free” sign, encouraging others to take it. Sometimes, big ticket items like televisions, pieces of furniture or instruments like guitars and pianos are left out for lucky passersby to snatch. More often than you may think, these items are brand new or close to it, have a small imperfection or are actually garbage.
Sometimes a person can come by these goods by happenstance—or—through the @stoopingnyc Instagram page.
The couple behind the @StoopingNYC account did not invent this concept, but they did give it a unique name. The page has more than 150,000 followers they call a community. The couple behind the account spoke to Inside Edition Digital on the condition of anonymity.
They started the account in 2019 after realizing that while on walks with their child, who has special needs, that people were leaving countless items on the curb. A joke about posting the items on Instagram led to the creation of @stoopingnyc.
The pair joke about how many DMs they get from community members who spot good finds around the five boroughs. They are constantly posting to their main page and Instagram Stories when things pop up, and when they vanish.
The couple says they don’t make any money from the account, nor do they plan on monetizing it.
But many are cashing in on the practice.
Self-proclaimed “Super Stooper” Masharzi McCann said she has furnished much of her apartment because of @stoopingnyc’s posts, snagging herself a bookshelf, fireplace, dresser and entertainment center.
“I like to think of it as a person who, number one, all of us that are following the page, we look online, we see things. It's like a determination. Like, I'm going to get it. No matter what, I don't care what time it is, how far it is,” McCann told Inside Edition Digital. “When I first joined, I was doing the most. I was traveling to Brooklyn. I was going to Queens. Wherever I saw, because I was so excited.”
McCann quickly learned the trick is to be quick.
“I am subscribed to their notifications,” McCann shared. She's also learned some tricks for Stooping success.
“If it's within 25 minutes, I'm definitely going to do it. Also, the biggest thing is, you have to set yourself up. Be OK if you don't get it,” she said. “Anything after that, I would only recommend doing if it's the weekday. If it's the weekend, it's stooping weekends. All weekend, I feel like people all day are like, 'We don't have anything else to [do].' We're like ... 'What can I grab?'"
Before the coronavirus pandemic hit, Bronwyn Tarboton worked as a performer. Stooping has become a way for her to earn money after losing her job due to COVID-19. She wound up starting @Nyctrashtotreasures. She told Inside Edition Digital that she reimagines stooping items and turns them into art, like taking old, broken lamps and turning them into terrariums.
“So I was grabbing things because I had all this time at home and I was redecorating my apartment like everyone was, and I grabbed some stuff that actually didn't work," she said. "And I figured, okay, I'll just throw it up on Facebook Marketplace and see if someone else could use it. And it went the next day. So sort of sparked the idea.”
And others are finding connections through stooping.
Roommates Jessica McCoy, Amanda D’Amico and Fiona Henderson had just moved to New York City’s West Village when a total stranger helped McCoy stoop a heavy lamp while both of her roommates were unavailable.
“He was like, ‘you know what? I was planning on carrying this back to my place anyways. I'll just carry it back to yours.’ So he lugged it four or five blocks over here and all the way up the stairs,” McCoy told Inside Edition Digital.
McCoy admits she was nervous. “When we got up here I was like, ‘this man could kill me right now,’”
D'Amico said the man did ask McCoy on a date, which had to be postponed because of concerns over COVID-19.
How Stooping Has Become a Business for New Yorkers Inspired by Artistry and Sustainability
Another way to claim your Stooping item is through Stoober.
“Stoober is the stoop-to-stoop furniture rehoming service. So I collect items from couches to cabinets to beds and bring it from somebody's place, who's getting rid of it and bringing it to somebody who needs it,” founder Shelby Veazy told Inside Edition Digital.
The @StooberNYC Instagram page has nearly 12,000 followers. Stooping hopefuls will reach out to Veazy on the app asking if she is available to pick up their coveted item. She will reply if she is able to get it. Veazy hits the road in one of her two vans, perhaps with her pup also in tow. Her assistance? A single dolly.
“I furnished all of my apartments that I've lived in in the city with stooping, finding things off of the streets and getting things, giving things out on the street and replacing things with things that people have given me," she said. "So it had always been sort of a reciprocal trade process. And I was always lucky because I had a car. Yet, you see all of the things that are still available on the sides of the roads. You realize the opportunity there.”
Stoober was born directly as a result of the pandemic.
Veazy started it in September 2020, after income from her previous business started drying up. Veazy worked as a sustainability consultant for small businesses, helping them improve their carbon footprint.
“Unfortunately, a lot of my clients went out of business because they are restaurants, just small businesses in general, that just weren't able to have any foot traffic," she said. "I needed to figure out a way to change my pathway while still assessing the sustainability, my interest in sustainability and my expertise in it as well.”
Veazy still can’t quite believe Stoober took off so quickly.
“And not only has it been amazing in the idea of being sustainable, because by now I've saved thousands of items, hundreds of thousands of pounds from the landfill,” she said. “My main goal is for people to just change their behavior and stop considering beautiful [items] pieces of trash and making a little bit more of a space for what the future might hold for this item.”
She charges $40 to transport most items, while she charges $60 for bulk pieces, including sectionals.
"It's fine. It's a lot of physics. It's me and my dolly," she said. "So the first couple months I didn't even have the dolly and I was like this, 'I don't know how I'm going to be able to do this.' But it's a challenge every day, right? So I'm at least getting a workout."
She noted that oftentimes, getting an item from a stoop to her van takes mathematical acumen rather than brute force.
"I think it just requires a sense of... how your body works, how a chair is balanced. It's difficult, but as long as you can do some geometry, it's a game of Tetris rather than a game of strength."
Surprisingly, the large pieces of furniture aren’t the ones she hates picking up the most.
“Rugs are the worst. They're heavy. They're wonky. But everything else is honestly the best," she said. "Even items that are a little bit more delicate, like glassware or mirrors, those ones are fun. But generally everything, unless it's 1,000 pounds, is a go.”
Stooping Opportunities Await in Cities Beyond New York
Veazy makes sure the items are clean before putting them up for sale.
“It's a risk, but I mean I take a few precautions, at least. I mean, I do pick things up. If they look risky, if they look gross, I let the person know, 'sorry.' Even if I'm there and they were excited about it, there's definitely a threshold that I have for grossness. I try to take a look for any things that might be living in there,” she stated.
“I think people typically put their items out with a good heart, and there are signs on a lot of the items that say ‘free.’ A lot of the items say ‘no bugs,’ a lot of items say ‘clean,’ ‘household without animals,’ something along those lines, but... I do always tell people that they need to clean the items just for pandemic's sake," she said. "But also you want to make sure that you're doing the best that you can.”
Although this is just the beginning, Veazy's vision includes a new company.
“I would love Stoober to have a whole fleet of vans where we're actually able to support this sanitation staff," she said. "Where right now, like I said, getting people to actually use us, rather than having to put things down on the streets, I'm building partnerships with more buildings."
Veazy hopes to build more relationships with sites like Craigslist and Facebook. She's also looking beyond New York. "[I want to] get this to expand to other cities,: she said. "Where we know that people are already still throwing away treasures.”