“Average”

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The past month or so has been one of the best stretches of the my career as a trash picker. It’s been sort of unreal actually, given totally insane finds like: a 10k gold medal from WWI, an envelope full of old 25c bills, WWII-related items, a decent laptop, and a huge bone china and crystal set, among other great things.

I don’t think I can keep up with this pace. There’s a lot of luck involved in trash picking – sometimes you’ll find a tonne of stuff in a short amount of time and sometimes you’ll find nothing at all. It’s a bit like roulette in a way: there’s a chance that you can hit eight blacks in a row, but the odds in the end remain the same.

Similarly, these great stretches also make the hunt that much more addictive. When you’re finding great stuff on a regular basis you want to go out and find more and more, just like when you’re winning at the casino. Unfortunately, to make the money I need to survive I have to deal with the stuff I already have. My room and storage has been a total mess since finding all those boxes from the last post. At some point I’ll need to make time to sort through, organize, and list it all. Unfortunately, to avoid organizational disaster (and the burnout / feelings of insanity that often come with it) there’s a bit of a limit to how often I can go hunting. If I were a rich eccentric type like Barry from “Storage Wars” I’d have a different business model, likely hunting more often but focusing less on maximizing my profit margin per item. I’d love that, but it’s not something that I can afford to do.

While I doubt I’ll keep finding amazing stuff at this pace I do think my recent strategy of switching neighbourhoods often, trying to find the “hot hand” has paid off. This wasn’t really possible by bike – it only made sense to go to neighbourhoods within a short distance of my home – but having a car has made this new strategy possible. I owe many thanks to my friend Sarah for allowing me borrow it so often!

This past week and a half has been a bit more “average,” producing some nice finds if nothing as spectacular as in weeks past. I came across this spot in Mount Royal last Tuesday night. Inside one of the bags was a small mix of good stuff, including a beautiful enameled urn and a fish bowl (which I gave to a friend). Next to the bin was an unopened IKEA CD shelf. I have to do more a bit research on the urn, it’s a really nicely made piece and I think it could be worth a bit of money.

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Later on I stopped at a pile in front of a house for sale. Inside the bags was a bunch of great stuff: a gorgeous painted wooden box; two silver plate trays; a wool hat; a kids tea set; a box of incense (compliments of Ogilvy’s!); an empty Lampe Berger; and a very nice hand-crafted tea set.

At another place I saved a vintage cooler, a mostly-complete microscope set (which I left on the curb for others to take), and a paper bag full of chocolate bars. There were 15 bars in total, three of which were of the massive variety. I left it in my kitchen for my five room-mates (and whoever else came by) and it all gone within about four days! Some were slightly expired, not that it matters too much.

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This Tuesday morning brought me to Laval. I didn’t find much outside of this one recycling bin that contained two vintage five gallon carboys. One is blue glass and was made for Puritas Water – this type tends to sell for between 50-70$ on eBay.

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I took a little detour through Park Ex on the way home. I saw an unusual quantity of bags in this one spot and decided to check it out. Inside was a whole bunch of stuff, though a good chunk of it had sustained water damage.

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I was able to salvage: a collection of figurines and miniatures, some of which are collectible; a number of vintage tools; an old tobacco tin; a vintage Nabob coffee jar filled with some type of oil or lubricant; a bronze Jennings Brothers dog figurine; and a somewhat water-damaged 800 silver picture frame, which if nothing else has value as scrap.

I also saved a damp envelope containing a small collection of slides and cut-outs from an old reel-to-reel film. The slides were just cut-outs from old film as well, which is something I’ve never seen before. A friend walked by as I was sorting through them and offered me a sandwich in exchange for a majority of the collection, which to me was a good deal!

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I went back in Mount Royal that night and a friend came along for the ride. It was mostly quiet, but I did find a few things at this spot not far from the highway, including: a working Heirloom lamp; matching silver plate candle-holders; a nice mug by Portmeiron Pottery of England; a beautiful old 1955 Canadian “Official Handbook of present conditions and recent progress”; a few other old books, some of which are written in a script I don’t understand; and a non-functional Caravelle clock. If anyone in Montreal wants to try to fix the clock (last two pictures) let me know. It likely needs a new clock mechanism (or maybe even just new connections) after the old battery corroded inside it, probably an easy fix for someone with the know-how. Whoever emails me first can have it for free.

I took yesterday and today mostly off to focus on blog and other stuff but should be back on the road again Monday.

Last weeks garbage sales (October 6 – October 12)

-Set of ten crystal glasses: to a friend for 20$. Found in the boxes from last post.
-Schminke pastels: on eBay for 25$. Found alongside the gold medal a month ago in St-Henri.

Total: 45$, 4714.75$ since May 18th. I was bound to have a down week after making around 1500 in the previous two.

New listings:
(Note: no links are provided to listings featuring any sort of personal information)

Set of 3 Aynsley cottage themed teacups and saucers
Vintage Westclox glow-in-the-dark clock
WWII-era US Navy canvas bag

If you have a question, see anything that you’re interesting in buying, or to just want to say hello feel free to email me at thingsifindinthegarbage@gmail.com. I also enjoy reading your comments!

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15 thoughts on ““Average”

  1. Isn’t it a terrible feeling when you can’t go out to find anything? think of all the things that are being lost. 😦 Sometimes I just imagine someone else finding something. I guess some things are just lost forever. I love the mug with the ship on it. Cool stuff. Good for you.

  2. Cindy says:

    I totally hear you on the addiction part of it. Going out “curbin'” always gives me a bit of a rush, and even when I’m done my route, I’m still all riled up to go out and find more. 🙂

    I recognized the 2 small blue and white house figurines as my parents (who are Dutch) have a few. In case you didn’t know, they were given out to people flying business or first class on KLM airlines around the mid to late 90’s. They represent the types of houses/buildings in Holland. As you can see, the chimneys are sealed with what looks like wax…that’s because there is a bit of booze inside! 🙂

  3. That type of vase is called “Cloisonné” 🙂

  4. Love the analysis of how the business works. 🙂

    Your “average” week looks pretty darned interesting to me! So much variety!

  5. Would it make financial sense to give someone a percentage of the profit to do the listing for you so you could collect more?

    • martng says:

      Maybe, but not on a mass scale. As long as I stay on top of things I can do it and keep all the profit. I would consider, however, paying one of my friends to photograph my collection of silver and gold jewellery that’s been sitting around getting dusty.

  6. Kathy McDevitt says:

    I have some used furniture to give you if you have access to a truck. You could come and see if you want any of it. I live in Cote saint luc. I have a few items you could probably sell.

    Let me know
    Kathy

  7. Nathalie says:

    I live in Riviere Des Prairies in the wealthy section.On my street the garbage truck and the recycling truck often pass between 3 and 4 pm.That is pretty late in the afternoon.I hope scavengers and area habitants take advantage of these very late pickup hours to rescue everything that is valuable.You have never done RDP,I think.Do you find that streets on which the recycling trucks and garbage trucks pass very early in the morning make iot very difficult for scavengers to rescue treasures?Or do most scavengers hunt secretly at night?How do the truck pickup hours affect your scavenging?

    • martng says:

      I have never done RDP, though I’d like to get out there at some point.

      It definitely makes it more difficult to cover those streets. For instance, there are a few roads in TMR where the trucks come early, around 7am. I’m never able to cover those streets unless I go at night.

      Many of my best finds were enabled by later pick-up times. For instance, I never would have found that Nazi passport (and all the great stuff that came with it) if the truck had arrived earlier. It was just my luck that that part of the route is picked up late, usually around 2pm. Another time I found a great collection of gold jewellery in Rosemont at 2pm. A recent example would be the cast iron pan and other kitchenwares that I found on Cote-des-Neiges a week or so ago around the same time. Other places were picked up at more average times: one good spot was around 9:30, another around 10:30.

      I like to see as much garbage as possible, but there’s only so much you can do. If I leave too early, a lot of garbage won’t be put out. It’s the same with the night before. If I leave too late a lot will already have been picked up.

      I find most other scavengers do their work in the morning. The light makes working a lot easier. That being said, most of those people are scrap metal or can specialists – I haven’t met another garbage “professional” with the same focus that I have.

  8. Tommy says:

    I am 32 years old and have been listening to a lot of digital music on my ipod for 12 years.In the last three months,I am beginning to relisten to my old collection of CDs and vinyl records.If you find vinyl records in the trash,please rescue them and write about it.I love vinyl and I love prerecorded audio cassettes.I am hoping more people born after 1990 will also start listening to music audio cassettes.

    • martng says:

      Vinyl comes up occasionally. Last summer I found a whole collection in the Plateau, over 100 records, many of which were by notable artists. I made a lot of money from all that and added a few nice pieces to my small collection. I hope to find more! They’re great for selling at yard sales.

  9. Norm says:

    I hope you will have 3000 subscribers to your fantastic blog by the end of 2014.I also hope you will find more paper money and cold ,hard cash in the trash.I have read your reports when you have found real money in the garbage.Bravo to you!

  10. Joe Greyson says:

    I am a 25 year-old struggling male student who has gone prematurely bald.If you find good wigs or hairpieces in the garbage,please rescue them and write on it.Have you ever actually rescued wigs or hairpieces from trash bags or trash bins?There is demand for this.

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