10 Best Stores For Dumpster Diving (I have Visited)

In the world of thrift and treasure hunting, dumpster diving hits a unique sweet spot.

So today, we’re turning the spotlight onto “Best Stores for Dumpster Diving.” 

In this article I’ll walk you through best stores from different places of US for dumpster diving.

Let’s dive in!

Best Stores For Dumpster Diving

Here are the 10 best stores that you should go to for dumpster diving.

1. Ulta Beauty

Best Stores For Dumpster Diving
Ulta Beauty store

Ulta, one of America’s largest beauty retailers, disposes of hundreds of slightly damaged, used, or expired products daily. 

These products, which are still in good condition, are often found in the store’s dumpsters and can be a treasure trove for dumpster divers.

According to The Penny Hoarder, a personal finance website, some dumpster divers report finding upwards of $2,400 worth of products in a single dive.

These can range from high-end makeup items to expensive hair care products. 

However, it’s important to note that dumpster diving laws vary by location, and it’s crucial to ensure you’re not trespassing or breaking any regulations.

Remember, safety and hygiene are paramount in this activity. It’s advisable to wear protective clothing and use tools to sift through the waste.

2. Best Buy

Best Stores For Dumpster Diving
Best Buy store

Dumpster diving is an activity that some individuals participate in at various retail locations, including electronics stores like Best Buy

According to EPA estimates, in 2018, about 17.2 million tons of electronic waste (e-waste) was generated in the US alone, with only 15% of it being recycled. 

When it comes to dumpster diving at Best Buy, the store’s Open-Box program, in which returned items are tested, repaired if necessary, and re-sold at a lower price, significantly reduces the amount of usable electronics ending up in the trash. 

Best Buy has a robust recycling program that responsibly disposes of electronics, including those returned to the store, making the probability of finding valuable items in dumpsters quite low.

Remember, dumpster diving can also be illegal in certain jurisdictions, and it’s important to respect private property rights and laws in your area.

3. Gamestop

Best Stores For Dumpster Diving
Gamestop store

GameStop is often considered a prime location for dumpster diving due to the nature of its merchandise and store policies. 

The store frequently discards slightly damaged or unsold items, including video game cases, promotional posters, and even games or accessories themselves. 

Dumpster divers have reported finding all sorts of treasures, from usable gaming accessories to collectible items, just because their packaging was flawed. 

GameStop tends to clear out inventory for new arrivals, leading to perfectly good items ending up in the trash. 

However, it’s important to note that laws regarding dumpster diving vary, so it’s essential to ensure you’re not breaking any local laws before you start.

4. Bath and Body Works

Best Stores For Dumpster Diving
Bath and Body Works store

Bath and Body Works, a popular retail store known for its fragrances and personal care products, often discards unsold or slightly damaged items. 

According to a report from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), retail stores like Bath and Body Works generate approximately 2.5 million tons of waste each year, a portion of which might still be usable.

While some individuals have found items such as candles, lotions, and shower gels, often in bulk and in near-perfect condition at the body and work.

Moreover, hygiene and safety are concerns as dumpsters can house bacteria, sharp objects, and sometimes hazardous waste. 

Therefore, if you decide to engage in dumpster diving, it’s crucial to wear protective gear, such as gloves and boots, and thoroughly clean any rescued items.

You can also consider purchasing from Bath and Body Works during clearance sales or taking advantage of their semi-annual sales, where discounts can reach up to 75% off. 

This way, you can enjoy the products you love while contributing to a solution that discourages waste creation in the first place.

5. PetSmart

Best Stores For Dumpster Diving
PetSmart store

PetSmart is a one-stop shop for pet owners, offering an extensive range of products and services to cater to diverse pet needs. 

The store’s benefits extend beyond just pet supplies; it also offers grooming, training, and veterinary services, thereby contributing significantly to the overall well-being of pets.

However, like many retail businesses, PetSmart does generate waste. 

Although precise figures are not readily available, it’s estimated that a fair amount of unsold items, packaging materials, and food may end up in landfills. 

It’s pertinent to highlight that PetSmart has a robust donation program where unsold and returned items are given to animal welfare organizations, significantly reducing waste.

Interestingly, the store’s waste bins can sometimes be an unexpected source of valuable finds. 

From slightly damaged pet toys to unexpired food products that were returned or overstocked, diligent dumpster divers might discover items of real worth. 

6. Target

Best Stores For Dumpster Diving
Target store

Dumpster diving at stores like Target can yield surprising benefits, both for individuals and the environment. 

Oftentimes, large retail stores discard items that may have minor defects or are simply out of season yet are still usable. 

Dumpster divers can discover valuable items such as home décor, electronics, food items close to their ‘best by’ date, and much more. 

Beyond the individual benefits, dumpster diving contributes to waste reduction. 

It’s estimated that retail stores in the U.S. generate over 30 million tons of waste each year. 

By reclaiming and reusing items discarded by these stores, dumpster divers actively participate in reducing landfill waste.

7. Sephora

Best Stores For Dumpster Diving
Sephora store

Dumpster diving at Sephora involves sorting through discarded products to find items that are still usable, a practice that can yield surprisingly valuable results.

From high-end makeup to skincare products, divers often recover items that are merely lightly used or even brand new.

This practice can save you considerable money, given the high retail price of these goods. 

Beyond the personal benefits, dumpster diving can also bring attention to the significant waste generated by the retail industry. 

Sephora, like many stores, frequently disposes of returned or overstocked items, contributing to a staggering amount of waste. 

By repurposing these products, you can reduce the environmental impact of this waste, making it a practice that combines personal gain with environmental consciousness.

8. Dollar General

Best Stores For Dumpster Diving
Dollar General store

When it comes to dumpster diving for deals, Dollar General stands out as an ideal choice for savvy scavengers. 

As one of the nation’s largest small-box discount retailers, with over 16,000 stores across 46 states, the frequency of merchandise turnover is exceptionally high. 

This high turnover often results in perfectly intact items and non-perishable goods finding their way into their dumpsters. 

In a single year, a disciplined dumpster diver could potentially save hundreds, if not thousands of dollars, by rescuing these discarded items. 

However, be aware that laws and regulations regarding dumpster diving vary by location, so always ensure you’re abiding by local rules and store policies.

9. Walmart

Best Stores For Dumpster Diving
Walmart store

Walmart is a prime location for dumpster diving enthusiasts. This multinational retail corporation disposes of a wide array of goods, including food, toys, electronics, and clothing. 

Walmart’s dumpsters are typically located at the rear of the store, often within a dedicated area that’s easily accessible. 

It’s also worth noting that the best time to dive is usually after store hours when the trash has been taken out for the day. 

However, always remember to respect local laws and store policies when considering dumpster diving.

10. Costco

Best Stores For Dumpster Diving
Costco store

Costco, with its sizable warehouses and high product turnover, is one of the top venues for dumpster diving. 

This retailer often discards merchandise that is slightly damaged or near its sell-by date but still perfectly usable. 

From packaged food items to household products, the diversity of goods one can potentially find is extensive. 

However, dumpster diving laws vary by location, and it’s critical to respect private property and adhere to any posted signs or local regulations.

So, if you are planning to dumpster dive at California, New Mexico, or Michigan; you should check these state laws before going to your hunt.

Is It Legal To Dumpster Diving At Stores?

In the United States, the precedent was set by the 1988 Supreme Court case California vs. Greenwood.

The Court ruled that the Fourth Amendment does not prohibit the warrantless search and seizure of garbage left for collection outside the curtilage of the home. 

This essentially means that once items are discarded as trash, there’s no reasonable expectation of privacy.

However, it’s important to note that while dumpster diving might not be federally illegal, there can be local regulations and ordinances that prevent this activity. 

For example, some cities or counties may have laws against removing items from trash bins or trespassing on private property, which can often include the property around dumpsters. 

As per a report from Dumpster Diving Laws, around 33% of the 50 states in the U.S. have restrictions against dumpster diving.

If a dumpster is locked or marked with “No Trespassing” or “Private Property” signs, diving could lead to legal consequences. 

Therefore, it’s always advisable to research local laws and regulations regarding dumpster diving before partaking in this activity. 

Do Stores Throw Away Good Stuff?

Yes, stores often throw away good stuff, a practice that has raised concerns about waste and sustainability. 

Perfectly usable products, from clothing to food, are often discarded due to minor packaging damage, nearing of sell-by dates, or overstocking. 

This excess waste contributes to environmental harm, while underserved communities could benefit from these goods.

Some stores have begun to mitigate this by donating unsold goods to charities or selling them at a discount to reduce waste.

Why Do Stores Throw Away Merchandise?

Stores often discard merchandise for several reasons. One of the primary ones is the expiration of perishable goods. 

The law typically prohibits the sale of goods past their sell-by date, necessitating disposal. Second, seasonal trends can make certain products obsolete. 

For instance, unsold holiday decorations or summer clothing items may not be marketable in the subsequent season.

Another reason is damage or defects, which can occur during shipment or while on display, making the items unsellable. 

Lastly, to maintain an image of selling only the latest products, some high-end brands destroy unsold merchandise to prevent it from reaching discount stores or the second-hand market.

What Stores Are Good For Dumpster Diving?

Dumpster diving, though unconventional, can potentially yield surprising finds, especially at certain retail venues. 

Home decor and furniture stores like IKEA often dispose of slightly damaged or display items that can be repurposed.

Electronic stores like Best Buy might toss out returned items or models replaced by newer versions. 

Grocery stores such as Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods may discard produce or other food items nearing their sell-by dates but still perfectly edible. 

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