POCATELLO — Got junk? Josh Huntsman is here to help.
A little over a year ago, Huntsman saw a need in the community and decided to address it.
In this case, the need was a service that allows people to easily get rid of their junk, and Huntsman and his wife, Kimberly, stepped up to the job.
The Pocatello couple opened JunkSmart and have so far have seen a moderate amount of success.
The Huntsmans have owned and operated the lawn care business H & H Lawns for nearly a decade, but they decided to branch out into a business that they could run year round with the equipment they already had.
“Lawn mowing is work for six months of the year in Idaho, and I was wanting to figure out something that I could do year round, and I had trucks and a trailer and all that and just kind of came up with the idea,” Josh Huntsman said. “I was always helping family and friends move stuff around or haul stuff, and I was like, ‘Man, there’s a lot of people who don’t have those resources,’ and so I thought I could repurpose all my stuff and start a junk removal business.”
Now that they’ve been doing it for a while, Huntsman said they’re looking into doing junk removal full time.
JunkSmart will get rid of all kinds of junk — from taking away a single couch or refrigerator to clearing out storage units and apartments. They will even demo old hot tubs and haul them away, something Huntsman said is an unusual service for the area. The only junk they won’t haul away is construction debris, chemicals and explosions.
"A job can range from somebody just having an old box TV that needs to be hauled away or an appliance or two or a couple pieces of furniture or a stack of old boxes," Huntsman said. "Then, people will have a loved one who dies and they’re managing the estate and people will try to do an estate sale. But what people don’t realize is that for that to actually work either people have to actually show up and then if they do show up they have to actually buy stuff, and families will wind up being left with a lot of stuff still after that.”
There is one job in particular that stands out to Huntsman. A woman asked for their help clearing out her father’s things after he passed away. The father had collected dolls — thousands and thousands of them — and Huntsman ended up hauling away six trailer loads on that job.
“That was by far the craziest because you just imagine driving down the road and we’ve got a pretty massive truck with a big trailer and that thing just filled to the brim (with dolls) is kind of strange,” he said.
If possible, Huntsman tries to recycle, repurpose or donate items instead of taking everything to the landfill — though plenty of items do end up there as well. Before Christmas, Huntsman put all the dolls in a storage unit and opened it up to the public, telling people to come pick up presents for free.
“There were toys and dolls and we ended up getting rid of a lot of them that way,” he said. “Kids and families showed up and could take dolls for free. So that was cool and then we ended up giving the rest of them to Goodwill.”
JunkSmart uses volume-based pricing for their services.
“Essentially it’s just how much (space) the stuff takes up in our trailer is what we charge,” Huntsman said. “There’s a set price for a quarter load, half load, full load. It’s one price and that price will cover all of our labor to load it, to transport it, unload it and any dump fees on the back end.”
Huntsman said that being open and honest about their pricing is something that is important to him. When they started the business, there wasn’t much in the way of local businesses to compare his prices to, so he looked to the larger regional areas.
“We don’t want to be cheap — we want to charge good rates that make it worth it for us, and we’re confident that we’re worth what we charge — but there’s also a tipping point where we don’t want to feel like we’re gauging people,” he said. “We just want people who really need this service to have it be a reasonable price for a good experience and great service.”
He says people occasionally don’t like the price and they decide to take care of it themselves, but he wants to remind people of the old adage: Time is money.
“That’s the thing that people will say to us over and over again that we do jobs for is they’ll say, ‘Literally this job would have taken us weeks to do,’ and we get it done in an afternoon," Huntsman said. "Yes, the dollar amount would probably have been cheaper for them but if you factor in your time, you would have had to do all that and we got it done and you don’t have to worry about it.”
He added, “Ultimately, if you’ve got a truck or you’ve got a friend and you can do it, great. Obviously this service isn’t for you then. The whole point is people who don’t want to do it, or can’t, or don’t have the resources, we’re there to be available for those people. And then we’re going to charge and make it worth it for us because we’re saving your back, we’re saving your time.”
Additionally, Huntsman said it is important for him to pay attention to detail and to be sensitive to people’s feelings.
“When someone wants something out of their house, we go in and we have to be aware of coming around corners that we’re not dinging up,” he said. “This is their domain, their house, so we try to be extremely conscientious of what’s on our feet. We don’t want to be tracking mud into their house. We don’t want to be hitting their stuff on the wall. We want to leave it better than we found it.”
Huntsman wants people to know that they will go out of their way to make sure people are comfortable. Sometimes customers need them to be discreet.
“There were a couple jobs we’ve done where discretion was important to the customer — some things that if other people had seen what we were taking out, nothing illegal or anything like that, it would have been embarrassing for neighbors," he said. "We understood that. We tried to be as discreet as possible to respect them, and they’ve been super appreciative of that."
On other jobs, customers are embarrassed about their home situation.
“We come into some of these jobs where maybe the person has collected a lot of stuff and it’s gotten quite messy," Huntsman said. "We’ve come in and realized they felt really bad and we’re just very understanding. There’s no judgement. We try to be very personable, very considerate of their space."
Yet another situation in which Huntsman takes special care is with those people who are managing the estate of someone who died.
"This is someone who maybe just lost a dad or a mom, and we’re going in there and we know that we’re carrying out this stuff, they may have memories attached to these things," he said. "Yes, they’re getting rid of it because there’s just nothing they can do but there’s memories attached to these things and we’re being careful as we’re taking it out.”
Huntsman stressed that they just want to help.
“As much as you think that hauling junk is just sort of an emotionless experience ... I’ve had so many times where it’s a loved one or a divorce or an estate, or it’s kind of a hoarder situation and they’re very embarrassed, (and) we just try to make them feel very at peace, and that, ‘Hey, it’s OK, we’re not judging, we just want to help you,’” he said.
They also try to be as transparent as possible with their pricing. It’s hard to give an exact quote over the phone, but Huntsman is always happy to go to a person’s house and look at the items that need to be removed. If after that, the potential customer is uncomfortable with the price, they don’t have to commit to paying.
“Nobody wants to be surprised at the end of the job,” he said. “So we’ll always tell customers is, ‘When we get there, we’ll do a walkthrough with you to see everything that you have and then we’ll give you a quote right there before we even begin.’ Nobody is obligated to have us do it. … We just want to be as transparent as possible and as upfront and clear as we can. It can be hard to get an exact estimate over the phone because we can’t see it but also someone might say, ‘I just have this tiny little pile in the corner of my garage’ — and I learned this really quick at the get-go — and then we show up and they’re like, ‘Actually it’s a full garage. Sorry, I miscalculated.’”
Given the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, JunkSmart is currently offering zero-contact junk removal. People can schedule a pick-up over the phone or via text and then place the items to be removed outside. JunkSmart will come pick the items up and then take payment over the phone.
Huntsman said that customers appreciate what he does.
“Out of all the customers we’ve done jobs for, they all love this service, they love what we do,” he said. “They just didn’t know that this service existed here. That was the problem. They more often just stumble upon us; they’ll be looking in the classifieds or something else and ‘Oh wow! What’s this? Oh my gosh. We’ve had this couch sitting in our backyard for 10 years.’ We need to let people know that it is a service available, and the need is out there for sure. When people have found us, we’ve got tons of repeat business and people refer us to other people. There’s a lot of need out there, just not a lot of knowledge that it’s available.”
The company has a five-star rating on Google with reviewers raving about the service.
One reviewer said, “My Mother recently moved to a retirement home and planned to sell her home of 30+ years. The home sold much faster than we expected, and we were in trouble! Mom found a JunkSmart ad in the newspaper and called Josh for help. Best idea ever! Josh and his partner cleared out the house taking a trailer full to donation centers, another to the dump, and moved Mom’s furniture in the garage for charity pick-up. They were punctual, worked quickly, and were friendly and professional. The job that would have taken us a week was done in half a day. I was extremely pleased with the JunkSmart service and with the price, and recommend them to anyone!”
Another says, “Our family was in over our heads with everything left behind from our parents/grandparents. Josh and his team lifted a heavy burden from us. They are friendly, honest, and reasonable in price. Thank you for your hard work.”
The company is currently servicing only the Pocatello-Chubbuck area, but in the future, Huntsman says they’d like to branch out all the way up to Idaho Falls and everywhere in between. They are also planning on having a booth at the annual Pocatello Spring Fair, which is tentatively set to take place at Holt Arena in late April.
“We just want to be accessible to as wide an array of people as we can,” Huntsman said. “Our customers have been college students moving out to a mansion up in Highland and quite a few people who do get up into the older ages, 55-plus, where either they physically can’t do it or they have the extra money and they’re like, ‘I’m happy to pay someone to do it.’ We just wanted to be a service that many people have access to.”
For more information, visit www.getjunksmart.com. If you have junk you’d like hauled away, call or text 208-705-3929.