A coffin and £400 in an old book. What’s the craziest thing you’ve found at your local tip shop?


Tip shops might seem like pretty ordinary places.

A plethora of old furniture, rusty mechanical objects and miscellaneous oddities.

But if you know what you’re looking for, there are plenty of great deals to be had. Even treasures can be found.

At the Karratha tip shop in the PIlbara region of Western Australia, one local even bought a coffin.

Another fossicker once found £400 in a $2 book – suffice it to say books have been a popular purchase in tip shops ever since.

Peter Skinner has worked at the Waste Management Facility for over 11 years and is now its Waste Management Services Team Leader.

With a staff of approximately 14, his job is to manage day-to-day operations at the site.

A big part of his job is managing the tip shop.

A resident of Karratha bought this coffin from the tip shop, intending to use it as a Halloween decoration.(Provided: Facebook)

Closed during the week, Peter and his team organize the various wares on the site in anticipation of the treasure hunters arriving at the weekend looking for a deal.

He says people drive by when the store is closed to spy on what’s available before doors open on Saturdays.

A young boy crouches down to check out a bicycle, while his parents inspect a red exercise seat.
Most tip shop items sell for less than $10.(ABC Pilbara: Amelia Searson)

City Services Manager Steve Wacher said Saturday morning felt like a Black Friday sale and there were often three customers at the door, eager to get in.

The store does not reserve items and operates on a first-come, first-served basis.

“When they come in, there’s no racing, so whoever walks the fastest gets it…and if you come in fast enough, you’ll get what you’re looking for,” Mr Wacher said.

Tip shop regular Andrew Wilson said he pops into the tip shop most weeks looking for anything that catches his eye.

A man wearing a cap checks an exercise bike at the Karratha tip shop.
Andrew Wilson, a resident of Karratha, is a regular at the tip shop.(ABC Pilbara: Amelia Searson)

Over the years, Mr Wilson said he had bought some very good things.

One purchase that came to mind was a leather sailor seat that he bought for $30 and estimated could sell for thousands of dollars.

You never know what you might find

Most items in the shop sell for less than $10, from six-seater outdoor tables to books, tapes and appliances.

Flashier items may be priced higher, but are still priced well below market value.

In Mr. Skinner’s opinion, it’s still a bargain.

A group of people looking at furniture in the tip shop, including recliners and walkers.
Karratha’s tip shop is busiest when it first opens in the morning on weekends.(ABC Pilbara: Amelia Searson)

“We’ve had boats here that we’ve sold for $100, we’ve had spas, you name it,” he said.

While searching for treasure, arriving early and going for a brisk walk are great strategies. He said that luck also plays an important role in treasure hunting.

Two men stand in a tip shop surrounded by random merchandise.  One man is bald and the other wears a hat and a large beard.
Steve Wacher (right) and Peter Skinner (left) agree that you never know what you’ll find at the local tip shop.(ABC Pilbara: Cameron Carr)

“The one that comes to mind is the person who bought a $2 book here that had 400 books in it,” he said.

“It was a really good deal. So now I think everyone is looking in the books.”

All about reuse, not profit

The tip shop has been running since 2014 with the simple purpose of encouraging people to reuse and buy used items instead of spending big bucks on new products.

A woman wearing glasses walks through a collection of furniture at Karratha's tip shop.
Karratha’s tip shop sells an ever-changing variety of items.(ABC Pilbara: Amelia Searson)

Mr. Wacher said city workers would review the items before they were sent to landfill to see what they could save.

“We take what we can, anything we think will sell, and we have a really good turnover of people buying this stuff,” he said.

The money raised through sales is reinvested in the management of the tip shop.


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