For many of us, the idea of decluttering feels stressful and time-consuming, but for Walter Hindman and Colin Shepardson, co-founders of Junkdrop, their junk removal service helps people “feel good about decluttering.” Many of the items they receive from clients are still in good condition and can be reused, so instead of hauling them to a landfill, Junkdrop teams up with local charities to donate these items to people in need.
The idea of Junkdrop came about amidst the chaos of COVID-19. As recent college graduates, Colin and Walter were looking for something to keep them busy. Then, after losing his job to the pandemic, Walter started to look deeper into different industries, particularly junk removal companies. “We said, ‘If we can remove people’s stuff and then give it to someone who needs it, it’ll make more sense for us, the client, and also the recipient. It’s a win for everyone involved,’” says Walter. “We’ve been able to set up relationships with a bunch of different charities here in Nashville, and we’re basically just trying to continue to grow as much as we can.”
In true 2020 fashion, things didn’t stop at the pandemic. For Nashvillians, disaster struck on Christmas Day with an early morning bombing downtown. With a new business underway, Colin and Walter stepped in to help their community, using their connections with Nashville charities. Through these relationships, Junkdrop connected with two Nashville women who owned an Airbnb impacted by the bombing and needed help clearing out the space. “After the bombing, [the women] found themselves with a whole lot of work. Their elevator was busted out, so most other companies just weren’t up for the job,” explains Colin. “We were new, and we had a good, large group of guys at the time, so we found ourselves saying, ‘Let’s go for it, it sounds like a great opportunity to try to put a positive light on something that was really difficult.’”
After clearing out the furniture from the Airbnb, Colin and Walter stored it for eight months at their own expense. Only recently have they begun donating items to a housing complex for those experiencing homelessness. “We’ve had [the items] stored, and now they’re getting offloaded and being used for Community Care Fellowship and People Loving Nashville — those are two of our partner charities,” explains Colin. “There are 48 rooms in what used to be an assisted living home that has now turned into a dorm for families and single people, and we’re helping to furnish those rooms so people have beds, clothing, and things to fill their room — a place to live.”
Since its inception, Junkdrop has helped furnish over 100 homes, and the only aspect they charge for is removing items. This makes the process 100% free for both the charity and the recipient. “Since we’re able to charge the client like a typical junk removal service, we don’t actually have to charge the organization or the recipient,” explains Walter. “We pay to store [the furniture], and then we also pay to get the guys to go deliver it and set it up.”
When it comes to building relationships with charities, Walter says the process has been relatively easy. “Once the word got out, we were able to set up relationships with End Slavery Tennessee, Salvation Army, People Loving Nashville, Oasis Center, Catholic Charities of Tennessee, and Community Care Foundation,” he says. “They’ll just basically say, ‘Okay, this is Sarah, she lives in Antioch, and this is her address.’ Then they’ll fill out a spreadsheet that says she needs a bed, box spring, dresser, or TV. Whatever those items are, they’ll just go through the list and fill it out. Then we look at that list, and we deliver the items and set them up.”
Walter also adds that one of the things they constantly remind themselves of is that Junkdrop is simply the middleman, and they wouldn’t be able to do what they do without clients and charities. “We’re really grateful that we’re given the opportunity to be the logistics so we actually have the face-to-face interaction with the recipient, which is so much fun,” Walter explains. “We have a great time doing that, but we also understand the charity set up the relationship and the client provided the furniture … we are grateful to do the work that we do to make sure it happens.”
These reactions and interactions with recipients are the highlights of his job, says Walter. “That’s definitely the best part of the entire process — being able to get the reaction of someone who [really needs the items],” he tells us. “Their clothes are on the ground and you give them a dresser, or they’re sleeping in a sleeping bag and you give them a bed — that is by far the best feeling in the world.”
Colin agrees, adding, “A lot of these people are coming off the streets. We’ve had situations where we’re furnishing a home for someone who’s been on the streets for a decade, and we’re able to be the people who help them out and give them someplace to sit, someplace to sleep, and someplace to eat. We’re just happy to have a role in that.”
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When it comes to the future of Junkdrop, Walter and Colin simply just want to keep doing what they love while continuing to grow their business. “We just want to keep going as best we can. Right now, a big focus for us is hiring,” says Colin. “We’re trying to get the word out, trying to spread the word that we’re looking for hard-working people who are willing to help connect Nashville and help those in need.”
To learn more about Junkdrop and its efforts, visit junkdropnash.com. All photos courtesy of Junkdrop.
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