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Turn Key Clean Outs and Estate Sales owners are modern-day treasure hunters

Madasyn Czebiniak
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Madasyn Czebiniak | Tribune-Review
At Turn Key Clean Outs and Estate Sales in Buffalo Township, Jeff and Talisa Harshman clean out homes, appraise the belongings and sell the items on behalf of the estate.
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Madasyn Czebiniak | Tribune-Review
Jeff and Talisa Harshman, owners of Turn Key Clean Outs & Estate Sales, stand outside their Tarentum warehouse on Thursday, June 6, 2019.

Jeff Harshman was digging through the garbage one day at a Mt. Washington home when he came across a pair of ticket stubs and a program for a baseball game between the Pittsburgh Pirates and the Chicago Cubs.

Harshman was liquidating someone’s estate in the Pittsburgh neighborhood and checked the trash to make sure nothing of value was tossed away.

Sure enough, those tickets weren’t for your typical Pirates game. They were for the second game of a doubleheader between the Cubs and Pirates that took place on June 28, 1970 — the last baseball game ever played at historic Forbes Field. The Pirates won, 4-1.

“They thought we were strange looking through their garbage, and then they loved us,” said his wife, Talisa.

“It ended up being well worth pulling out of a garbage bag,” Jeff Harshman said.

The Harshmans are the owners of Turn Key Clean Outs and Estate Sales in Buffalo Township. They clean out people’s homes, appraise their belongings and sell those items on behalf of the estate. They hold sales at the properties or at their warehouse in Tarentum.

They liquidate about 100 properties a year and can see an average of 300 people per sale. On properties where they offer two-day sales, they can see as many as 1,000 people. People have come from as far as Ohio, New York, West Virginia, Massachusetts and North Carolina for the sales.

“Our sales are so popular,” Talisa Harshman said.

The Harshmans do liquidations on all types of properties across Western Pennsylvania, from trailers and condos to million-dollar estates, farms and businesses. A nine-acre junk yard, a moving and storage company and a construction company have made their list of clients.

In their seven years in business, the couple has discovered numerous things hidden in homes. Surprisingly, some of the most valuable items have been in the trash or a junk drawer.

“Houses give you surprises. We could walk into a house, and we’re always excited for a setup. We say we’re treasure hunters,” Talisa Harshman said.

Among the treasures were three baseballs signed by legendary Pirates shortstop Honus Wagner. In a North Hills kitchen, they found a Pyrex bowl with a rare Atomic Eye design. They unearthed a World War II trench knife at the bottom of a man’s toolbox in New Kensington.

A Blue Snaggletooth from “Star Wars” was discovered among 100 toys from a vintage collection in New Castle. The toy is one of the rarest in the “Star Wars” collection because the toy company guessed the color based on a black-and-white photo.

“They made him blue, and then the movie came out and he was red. The toy company then backpedaled and pulled the line,” Jeff Harshman said. “So now, he’s more valuable than anyone else.”

There have been occasions where they’ve recovered cash. A woman who lived in Bethel Park hid $13,000 in between layers of clothing she stored in boxes in her attic.

They’ve stumbled upon dead and live animals such as raccoons, possums, and black snakes — even an attic full of bats.

“I was like, ‘I’m not going in there.’ I drew the line at that,” Jeff Harshman said of that particular attic.

Madasyn Czebiniak is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Madasyn at 724-226-4702, [email protected] or via Twitter .

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