(Note: this is the seventh in a series of stories on UAFS alumni entrepreneurs. If you are a business owner and a UAFS alumni and would like to have a story written on your business, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org)
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.
Meyer’s foray into scavenging for junk began during the recession, where she struggled to find employment. After working low-wage jobs in the restaurant industry, she decided to enroll at the University of Arkansas – Fort Smith to study accounting.
Still, she needed a way to bring in income while attending school. To do that, she began to rifle through dumpsters and visit yard sales and auctions around Greenwood and Fort Smith to find items to repurpose into items for home decor.
It didn’t take long for the hobby to grow into a business as the demand grew for the items she created. Soon after, Meyer established Wasted in Greenwood with the vision of using salvageable goods to create trendy crafts to avoid them becoming wasted in a landfill.
Her artistic experience gave her the creative eye to turn what others saw as trash into trendy appealing decor. An old truck hood became a chalkboard, an old ceiling fan a coffee table.
Meyer didn’t realize it at the time, but her business was part of a growing trend nationwide. With the advent of Pinterest, more and more people were looking at vintage furniture and decorative items, especially as the recession tightened their pocketbooks.
“The recession forced people to make do with what they had,” Meyer 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, Meyer doesn’t know how to describe exactly what the repurposing trend is.
“It's hard to explain to someone who isn't involved in this line of work," Meyer said. “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, when rust was a bad thing and now you just don’t cover it up.”
Wasted became more successful than Meyer had predicted after underestimating the demand for salvaged goods and “repurpose-ables”. After years of successful business, she outgrew her space in Greenwood, and she decided to relocate to a much larger space on Towson Avenue and further expand her customer base.
Wasted now provides salvaged goods including architectural salvage, fixer-upper furniture, upscale used decor and furniture, as well hand-crafted repurposed pieces.
“You can find everything you need for your rustic, farmhouse, industrial, do-it-yourself project and eclectic décor here,” Meyer 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 and find items with potential for repurposing.
Though Meyer 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.”
Meyer doesn’t just want to restore items to sell in her store. She also wants to restore 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,” Meyer 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 house’s structures better.”
In addition, Meyer is opening The Gathering Cottage and Wedding Place, a mini event venue, in Greenwood. The venue will be for showers, birthdays, parties and gatherings of 30 people or less. Her vision for the venue is to do all-inclusive and intimate weddings by spring.
No matter where Meyer’s entrepreneurial adventures take her, she hopes to enable people to have fun.
“No matter what I do in life, I want to create an environment that enables people to have fun,” Meyer 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 Meyer at 479-322-1257 or like Wasted on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/wastedrepurposemarketplace.
About the University of Arkansas - Fort Smith
The University of Arkansas – Fort Smith is the premiere regional institution of Western Arkansas, connecting education with careers and serving as a driver of economic development and quality of place in the greater Fort Smith region. Through a small campus, dedicated professors, and the university’s unique bond with its community, students at UAFS are able to do more in the areas they are passionate about, both on- and off-campus, in a way that prepares them for post-graduate success. To find out how you can do more at UAFS, visit www.uafs.edu.