words: Amy Lloyd, University Relations Coordinator
images:Rachel Putman, UAFS Photographer
Dumpster diving and traveling to yard sales and auctions may not be the most glamorous way to get through college while raising a daughter, but Angie Meyer did it nonetheless.
Angie’s foray into scavenging for junk began during the Great Recession when she struggled to find adequate employment. After working low-wage jobs in the restaurant industry, she decided to enroll at the University of Arkansas – Fort Smith to study accounting in 2009.
Still, she needed a way to bring in income while attending school. To do that, she began rifling through dumpsters and visiting yard sales and auctions around Greenwood and Fort Smith to find items to repurpose into home décor.
It didn’t take long for her hobby to grow into a business. Soon after, Angie opened Wasted in Greenwood, a shop with the vision of using salvageable goods to create crafts to keep the pieces from being wasted in a landfill.
Her passion for painting and drawing, and taking art classes in high school and college, gave Angie her creative eye to turn what others saw as trash into trendy décor. An old truck hood became a chalkboard, an old ceiling fan a coffee table.
She didn’t realize it at the time, but her business was part of a growing movement nationwide. With the advent of Pinterest, an online site where users post images of things like uniquely decorated homes, more and more people were looking at vintage furniture and decorative items.
“The recession forced people to make do with what they had,” Angie said. “Then it just kind of became a trend. Now stores sell items that are made to look rustic or repurposed, but what I sell is cheaper and authentic.”
Still, Angie hasn’t found the perfect word to describe exactly what she’s doing. “It’s hard to explain to someone who isn’t involved in this line of work. I don’t know that there is a name for what I do yet. It’s just a way of expression and finding the beauty in the imperfect. I love stuff that is meant for one thing and now used for something else.
These days, it’s not who can buy the most expensive entertainment center, but who has the most creative entertainment center,” she continued. “It’s the rusty crusty stuff, rust used to be a negative thing and now you just don’t cover it up.
“These days, it’s not who can buy the most expensive entertainment center, but who has the most creative entertainment center,” she continued. “It’s the rusty crusty stuff, rust used to be a negative thing and now you just don’t cover it up.”
Wasted became more successful than Angie had predicted. After more than three years of running her business, she outgrew her space in Greenwood and decided to relocate to a much larger space on Towson Avenue in Fort Smith.
Wasted now provides salvaged goods including architectural salvage, fixer-upper furniture, upscale used décor and furniture, as well as hand-crafted repurposed pieces. “You can find everything you need for your rustic farmhouse, industrial, do-it-yourself project and eclectic décor here,” Angie said. “If not, I’ll help you find it.”
Her business has grown so much that she doesn’t have to dumpster dive anymore —instead, people bring her trailer loads of their old junk to sift through to find items with potential for repurposing.
Though Angie didn’t get a job as an accountant after graduating from UAFS, she attributes her business classes to helping her become a successful entrepreneur. “Going to school gave me a lot of confidence to test my entrepreneurial side,” she said. “I learned a lot about business and motivating employees, but I also learned a lot about myself and about the world. I’m a better businesswoman, business owner, and person because of it.”
Angie doesn’t just want to restore items to sell at Wasted. She also wants to revive historic Fort Smith — so much so that she plans on returning to UAFS to study engineering. “I love historic houses and want to be a part of restoring Fort Smith,” she said. “In a perfect world, I would love to buy whole blocks and restore them to their glory days. An engineering degree would help me understand the houses’ structures better.”
In addition, she’s opening The Gathering Cottage and Wedding Place, a mini event venue, in Greenwood. The space will be used for showers, birthdays, parties and gatherings of up to thirty people. Her vision for the venue is that it will be the site of all-inclusive and intimate weddings by spring of 2017.
No matter where Angie’s entrepreneurial adventures take her, she hopes always to bring joy. “No matter what I do in life, I want to create an environment that enables people to have fun,” Angie said. “People come into Wasted every day and tell me they aren’t creative. I tell them, ‘If you buy anything from me, that automatically makes you creative.’ Just look around you and see what appeals to you. There is probably a whole new side of yourself you have yet to explore.”
For more information, contact Angie at 479.322.1257
or like Wasted on Facebook. Just look for Wasted Repurpose Marketplace.