If one man’s trash is another man’s treasure, Kyle Dubay hit the jackpot.
For over two years Dubay, co-founder of Woodward Throwbacks in Detroit, has been collecting discarded materials from around the city and transforming them into six-pack beer carriers, bottle openers, coasters, signs, tables, and more.
“It kind of just started as a hobby making stuff for the apartment,” said Dubay, who, along with Bo Shepherd, search the city by bike and car looking for discarded materials. “It was also a way to clean up our neighborhood because there’s a lot of illegal dumping and vacant homes in Detroit. We started cleaning it up, making stuff, and one thing led to another.”
Photos courtesy of Woodward Throwbacks
The two began creating unique art pieces out of illegally dumped materials and reclaimed wood out of Dubay’s garage. Now, Woodward Throwbacks is doing 500 pieces a week.
It’s safe to say business is doing well.
Woodward Throwbacks does accept materials from the public. In fact, they’ve been receiving more and more donations.
“There’s a lot of construction happening in the city,” Dubay said, “and I have some ins with some contractors who are like, ‘Hey, we’re doing this site. You want to stop by and get some stuff before the demo happens or afterwards?'”
After they’re done with the construction there’s a lot of building material leftover, so Dubay and Shepherd will come by with a big truck and grab a bunch at once. Once the materials are brought back to the shop, the fun begins. The materials are primarily transformed into home decor and barware. Furniture is made as well, but the home decor and barware is being done on a big scale.
Photo courtesy of Woodward Throwbacks
About 90 percent of the products sold cost between $10 and $60, with furniture and custom items being more. Dubay said they don’t do a lot of custom stuff with their product line unless it’s someone like a retailer who wants an item specifically made for their store.
“We’ll do our product line, but we’ll do it with some sort of graphic that they want,” he said. “We get that a lot.”
They also get a lot of positive feedback. When Dubay and Shepherd started this they weren’t trying to make a business out of it. Instead, they were just trying to do something good and trying to have fun with it.
“Everyone thinks it’s great,” Dubay said. ” The response has been awesome because it’s authentic. We’re passionate about it, we’re not doing it for the money. We’re doing it because we’re helping our community and we’re helping bring quality items into the market. We’re showing other people there’s a way that you can kind of have this social enterprise and make it work financially, too.”
The results speak for themselves.