The China Project reported on October 6 that Luó Yǔfēi served as product manager of a Chinese educational technology company.

His boss laid him off in July of this year for reasons related to the Chinese regime’s decision to stamp out the private tutoring industry last year. 

With plenty of free time, he began spending the evening roaming around Beijing in search of valuables left behind on the sidewalk.

He told The China Project, “The streets are a home goods buffet if you know where and when to look.”

Luo cycled north to Wudaoying Hutong, an alley transformed into a trendy shopping spot for Beijing’s youth.

Luo discovered an oak jewelry box lined with velvet and a mirror inside.

But the most significant gift of the night was a pair of antique Chinese rosewood armchairs.

He took a few photos and shared them on social media with the caption that the armchairs were heavy but in relatively good condition.

Hours later, one of his followers on Xiaohongshu, China’s Instagram-like lifestyle platform, showed up and bought the goods.

In Beijing, Luo was one of the early adopters of “stooping,” a practice also known as “trash stalking” and “curb mining.” It has long been a tradition in New York City.

In 2019, this behavior became known as “stooping” and was taken to a new level thanks to a series of Instagram accounts such as CurbAlertNYC and Stooping in Queens, which regularly share photos of the remarkable street idea.

While scrolling through Xiaohongshu, he saw a post by Mikiko in Shanghai (Mikiko), China’s first social media account dedicated to this stall with nearly 26,000 followers.

Luo says that this post immediately caught his attention.

He adds that he regularly finds valuable junk in his neighborhood, but he didn’t know there was a term for it.

Hoping to bring culture to his city, Luo created StoopingBeijing, where he documents his findings and maps curbside cities through community submissions across the city.

The account has more than 12,000 followers, far beyond Luo’s expectations.

Another man, Wu Kaisi, a law graduate from a prestigious university in southeastern China, first witnessed the habit of stooping when he embarked on a three-month odyssey across the US in 2015.

Wu told The China Project that he spotted a functioning refrigerator labeled “for free” on the sidewalk in Long Beach, California. 

He said that he was shocked. 

He added that it’s unbelievable that someone in China would display something as beautiful as this on the street for people.

The culture shock Wu experienced in America turned out to change his fate.

Wu, now referred to in the local media as an “extremist” advocate of anti-consumerism, is also the manager of StoopingGuangzhou.

StoopingGuangzhou is a Xiaohongshu account that he started in early September after seeing successful stooping in Shanghai and Beijing.

Wu often conducts curbside excursions between 12 a.m. and 4 a.m. before public sanitation workers begin their early morning rounds.

Top goods destinations in Guangzhou include historic neighborhoods such as the Yuexiu district.

Wu has also succeeded in the Tianhe Central Business District, the city’s economic heart.

Wu said, “My followers are a mix of environment-conscious consumers, young people who want to be part of a new trend, and those who can’t afford to shop new.” 

He added, “The common denominator is that they are looking for ways to save money.”

Over the past year, China has faced a severe and protracted coronavirus lockdown, high youth unemployment, and a deepening decline in wealth.

Consumer sentiment has dropped, forcing people to rethink their spending and savings strategies.

People who share money-saving tips and tricks are gaining followers.

Victoria Ma, a 25-year-old freelance writer in Shanghai, sat on a soft, gray couch in the Changning district after seeing a photo of it on Mikiko’s Xiaohongshu page in August.

Ma told The China Project, “I wiped it down thoroughly before it entered my living room.”

Despite her remarkable success story, Ma still considers herself a “passive recipient.”

She said she checks on Mikiko in Shanghai at least three times daily.

Returning to Wu, he is a huge proponent of expanding the definition of second-hand shopping.

The moral underpinnings of stooping, he says, are “making good use of every object in your life,” which also underpins bargain hunting.

Luo said that sellers and buyers are championing the ideas of waste reduction, sustainable living, and diverting items from landfills.

He added that, in the end, everyone wins.

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