A lot of people have house-sitting skills. A lot of people don’t have a shovel. This one does.

Beth Ford decided she would spend two and a half hours Saturday morning catching sofas out of plumbing holes to save herself money. The encounter was what eventually inspired her to co-found Land O’ Lakes, an organization in Fairfax County that salvages carpets, antiques and decor from abandoned houses.

Linda Bernard, a tour guide in Elkins Park, knew an unusual gift for finding interesting junk and selling it is “trick of the trade.”

“I think this world doesn’t know how much you can do with a shovel and what you can take. I think people are under the mistaken belief that when you get a job, you have all this time to go and have fun. And you don’t,” Ford said.

And in the 21st century where we have millions of leftovers at our disposal, Ford said, “We need to clean up the messes.”

At the age of 30, when she took a master’s degree in French and added being a stay-at-home mom to her job at Bob Evans Family Restaurants, she found that she had a free afternoon to save herself from expensive bills.

“I had this free afternoon on a Saturday and I did it. I dug people out of toilet holes and hauled one-room schoolhouses down the street with a shovel,” Ford recalled. “It actually paid for my dinner.”

She did it on “Shopping for Junk” by Joanie Melville, a resource she later turned into her online blog before she sold the site to Inbox Du Jour in 2015. She still blogs about finding finds for sale, helping other customers find items for sale and just being a good neighbor on her “Ask Beth” page.

By the time Ford sold her company, she had started a nonprofit to improve environmental literacy.

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