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The streets had become safer in recent years, though, thanks to those already part of the West Bottoms resurgence. And the big brick, abandoned warehouses were full of second-life potential — the kind of potential that Moore has successfully spotted since childhood.
"I have been a trash picker my whole life," she says.
She remembers the first time her mother, Jane Snell, hit the brakes on the family pickup truck and called, "Patricia, jump out! Get your hands on that bed!" Moore opened the passenger door and walked — she should have run — to the brass bed on the residential curb.
"Another guy pulled up when we did, and he got it," she says.
Moore learned her lesson: When you see something good, you snatch it.
Her parents grew up during the Depression, and they passed their intolerance for waste on to their daughter. Snell had a good eye for treasures in trash, and Moore has clearly inherited the skill. But if she's glad to benefit from what people have tossed, she's sometimes bothered by the purging.
"I was always completely scandalized with the stuff people threw away," she says. Case in point: A man was selling a corn sheller at a garage sale. "He said he was going to throw it away. I said, 'Don't you dare,' " Moore recalls. She bought the rusty, 15-pound machine for $40, took it to a welder and turned the gear and the pulley and other individual parts into tabletop and wall décor.
"You have to kiss a lot of toads," she says of the trash chase. "But finding the one-of-a-kind prince charming is always worth it. I've never wanted to have stuff that looked like what everyone else had. I'm into fun, funky items."
Not that Moore is immune to the allure of brand-new goods. She once bought what she describes as a "really trendy and expensive" couch from a department store. "It just fell apart," she says. "That is when I decided I'd rather buy something old, made of better quality, and spend money to reupholster it."
That was 20 years ago.
In those early homemaking days — filled with PTA meetings and other kid-raising activities — her hobby had a simple mission: "I just wanted to make my house pretty."
Since then, she says, she has bought just four other new pieces of furniture. Meanwhile, old items kept calling. She says the sight of something that she might repurpose could make her mouth water. Sometimes she thought it, and sometimes she said it aloud: "That has good juju."
Six years ago, Moore took the first step toward turning her passion into a business. She became a vendor at Urban Mining, a resale store in midtown. There, she found fans of her self-described masculine style. For instance, her version of a coffee table is a trunk mounted on a metal mechanic's creeper — rust still intact. She started to build up a network of like-minded people, those who also memorized the trash-collection days in each part of the metro. And she knew that there were more like them, people who would drive anywhere to find a deal.
"If you see an item you love, buy it," Moore says. "Don't second-guess yourself. Everything will go together if they are things you love. You don't even have to look for items to love. They have a way of finding you."
She liked the large spaces and cheap rent in the West Bottoms, one of Kansas City's oldest areas. She signed the lease. With 8,000 square feet and more than 100 parking spots, the Columbia Building was more than enough — or so she thought at the time. With a divorce looming and her PTA days behind her, she moved in, along with her resale items — and her bed.