Utah Stories

Antique Pickers are Turning Other People’s Junk into Treasures

A picker is someone who finds valuable items in other people’s junk and Matt Binyon has turned picking into a career.


Matt Binyon, owner of American Rust Company. Photos by Steven Vargo.

Matt Binyon, owner of American Rust Company, started going to garage sales by himself when he was 13-years-old. Picking was in his blood.

A picker is someone who finds valuable items in other people’s junk. “I’m the only one in my family that’s into this stuff,” says Binyon.

“People watch ‘American Pickers,’” says Binyon, “but it doesn’t work that way. Half the time these farmers will say ‘get the hell out of here, you damn pickers.’ These old guys don’t want to sell anything.” He tries to build a relationship with them by talking about their tractors, trucks, or cows. Letting them know he’s not there just to make money off of them.

“I typically buy what I like. If I’m doing my job right, I’m going to make money,” says Binyon, “I’ve got a pretty good eye. Occasionally I’ve bought something because I liked it and it’s not worth what I paid for it.”

Binyon decided to open a store after his wife told him to get all his crap out of the garage, the front room, basement, and the backyard. It took Binyon two months to remodel the place before he opened this past December.

Traveling around rural Utah, Idaho, Wyoming, and Nevada are where Binyon does most of his picking, looking for one-of-a-kind items and things he can re-purpose. His coolest unexpected find is a 1954 Bennett go-kart. “While buying a truck bed, the seller asked if we knew anybody that likes go-karts,” said Binyon, “What do you have? When she opened the garage, I heard angels singing within the glowing lights. I was like, Wow!” After each racing season, most of these go-karts were stripped of their salvageable parts for use in the next season’s car, and they would junk the bodies. This was a rare find.

Theater companies, movie productions, and the Sundance Catalog Store have come in to buy or rent props. “In the next movie or television show you watch, everything in a scene has to come from somewhere,” says Binyon.

Building fireplaces out of old diesel truck grills, lights from old fire nozzles or car jacks, bar signs and tables, are just a few of the things Binyon has made out of his treasures.

Mantiques, Antiques, Repurposed Art, and Girl Stuff is what his sign says out front. “We’re not your grandma’s dishes antique store,” says Binyon.

The American Rust Company 825 E 2100 S, Salt Lake City

, ,

Join our newsletter.
Stay informed.

Related Articles