I'm a professional scavenger making a living selling curbside garbage. This blog details my finds and sales. It also acts as an archive for things beautiful and historic that would otherwise have been destroyed.
Let’s make this a quick one! The people who threw out the Macbook Pro tossed more great stuff last week.
There was lots of sports stuff, including: three quality baseball mitts, two frisbees, an aerobie (basically a frisbee that can easily be thrown the length of a soccer field), a raquet, …
… and a whole bunch of basketballs. None of the basketballs were especially nice, so I left them at the curb for others to find.
I also saved a cool vintage lockbox …
… a torah with a custom made cover;
… a lightly-used Juicy Couture computer bag;
… four pairs of designer glasses (bottom left – Chanel; top left – Oliver Peoples; top right – Christian Dior; bottom right – Lacoste);
… and a small collection of perfumes. I’ve already sold the Tiffany to a reader for 50$. I may keep the small bottle of Woods by Abercrombie & Fitch; I don’t usually do cologne, but I actually enjoy the smell of this one and think it might suit me. Still, it’ll be tempting to sell it given that another bottle just like it sold for 80$.
The perfumes were accompanied by this little glass perfume bottle. It looks to be hand-blown, and is very nice if not particularly valuable.
My best finds were tech, however. One bag held an old iPod and a Garmin GPS. The iPod seems to work, and while I haven’t yet tested the GPS I expect it works fine as well.
My best find though was this working iPad. It was password protected but there’s an easy workaround which also allows you to wipe the whole machine. It’s one of the older models so it’s only worth around 100$, but it’s still a nice get. This is the first time I’ve found an iPad in the trash.
The second part (part one) of my 2015 financial analysis focuses on income sources, or how I made my money. I again need to thank my friend Sarah for designing the excellent pie chart you see below!
As you can see eBay is my dominant income source. In the past few years I’ve become much more comfortable selling on the site and its piece of the pie chart has grown a lot as a result. I expect it to grow again in 2016, barring any unexpected surprises from the other categories. Thanks to my improving organizational skills I recently reached a total of 180 eBay listings – an all time high – and there is a definite link between the number of listings and total profits.
Yard sales also provided a consistent source of income. I regularly make around 200$ a sale, and sometimes more. They’re a lot of work though, so I might try a “less is more” approach next year.
I started using Kijiji (basically a Canadian version of Craigslist) more often starting around the middle of summer. It’s an excellent way to get rid of large items that would be expensive to ship. I expect to make more from these local sales again in 2016.
I use Etsy almost exclusively to sell jewelry. Honestly, I don’t put enough effort into my Etsy store for it to be exceptional. The best Etsy stores are like little boutiques – they tend to have more elaborate photography, and provide a bit more of a personal touch. It would take a fair bit of work to set myself up to be a great Etsy seller, and I just don’t have the time to do so. Regardless, I still do well enough on Etsy to make it worthwhile, and I appreciate that their fees are notably lower than eBays.
My gold and silver scrap profits are a bit down of late. I think that’s mostly due to luck – sometimes I won’t find any gold for long stretches of time, and very occasionally (but not recently) I’ll find a whole bunch at once. Also, for gold or silver to enter into this category it has to be mediocre and not worth selling otherwise. For example, while I did find a gold watch earlier this year it made much more sense to sell it on eBay than for scrap. I hope I find a lot of junky gold this year because it’s very easy money!
Otherwise, many thanks to friends and readers who contributed just over 1000$ to my coffers! Rounding out the list is small change, which I trade for something less cumbersome at TD Bank (they have free change machines for customers) and the money I received for the right to use a photo I found in a newspaper article.
Through trash picking I’ve come to better understand the privileges provided by wealth. I was aware in an abstract sense before but some of my finds have really driven the point home. For instance, coming across a container filled with over 56$ in change in Westmount made me wonder about the world in which that amount is considered chump change. I’ve also found lots of jewelry, designer sunglasses, gadgets and electronics, but the 56$ is my favourite example because that was real money being tossed, and an amount that would provide significant benefit to a large portion of the population.
These types of finds are frustrating because it seems obvious that other people would love to have them, and because the effort needed to donate them is minimal. I won’t go into the multitude of ways that the 56$ in change could have been easily donated with very little effort, except to say that even unceremoniously dumping it on a sidewalk downtown would have been a better option than placing it inside a black garbage bag for disposal.
I’m sure some of the people tossing this stuff are self-centered, and don’t consider much beyond their own self-interest. The privilege of wealth comes not just from what one can buy with the money, but also their ability to throw something away without having to give much thought to the act. At the same time I’d bet that many of the rich people throwing out nice things are reasonably cool. I except that some rich people are just so far removed from financial deprivation that they simply cannot conceive of what it’s like to be broke. As a result, they become oblivious to the value their items might have to a person who really needs them.
A couple weeks ago I found something else that was indicative of this privilege. It came in front of a nice house that was recently sold.
Inside one of the bags was this box, which was a fair bit heavier than I expected it to be.
To my surprise, inside was a Macbook Pro!
The laptop was pretty clean, so it didn’t surprise me much when it worked as well.
The computer was password protected when I found it, but after several hours of research I was able to figure out a workaround (basically I created a new administrator account, from which I was then able to delete the other user and all their information). Another issue arose when the old battery – which I don’t think had been used for 2 years – started to bulge, causing the track-pad clicker to stop working. That took me a few more hours to figure out, but once I did I was able to fix the issue by removing the old battery.
I’ve found working laptops before, but this one is by far the nicest and most desirable of the bunch. The Macbook Pro is a coffee shop staple and a favourite among students and artists. In terms of value, mid-2009 Macbook Pros with 13.3″ screens seem to go for around 400-450$, making it a pretty nice find!
I found some more great stuff at this spot recently, so expect some more luxurious finds in a blog post to come!
I saved a few nice art deco light fixtures on a Sunday night trip to eastern NDG .
This chandelier is pretty cool, but needs rewiring and a bit of glue or solder as one of the upper arms broke since I took this photo.
I love the art deco “starburst” design. I’m not sure this fixture is worth anything (it’s not quite in perfect condition either, being not quite flat) but it’s definitely pretty neat.
This hanging lamp might be the most valuable of the bunch. It’s in pretty nice condition, with no notable chips or breaks. I’d guess it was made in the 1940s.
The bottom has a frosted look to it. I listed the lamp on Kijiji for 150$, and we’ll see if it sells.
In Montreal West I came across two golf bags whose best days have long since passed.
More interesting were the clubs, many of which were hand forged in the 20s or 30s. They’re not worth a lot but make for good yard sale material.
This fare was inside one of the bags. I’m pretty sure the Mount Royal Golf Club is the one in TMR that got built over in the 1950s, so that gives you some idea of when these clubs were last used.
I saved a vintage TV (at left – the one on the right was a huge monstrosity) from this pile in TMR. I have a strange adoration for vintage TVs so I took it despite the fact that it was large and weighed probably 40 pounds. I posted it on a Facebook barter page and ended up trading it for some kombucha and coffee beans. Was it worth it? Probably not. I almost killed myself yesterday trying to deliver it to my trade partner, and the amount of effort it took to deal with it didn’t match the return. I’m glad this old TV still exists, but I think I’ll stick to saving smaller vintage TVs from now on.
Otherwise, I saved what looks to be a jadeite glass vase (NDG) …
… a collection of Givenchy Gentleman after shaves (Plateau);
… an Inoxcrom pen set with sterling silver caps (TMR);
… a box full of feathers (Montreal West);
… a busted shale glass box (I left this on the curb, and someone took the top – NDG);
… a nice wooden trinket box (TMR);
… and a collection of hand saws, which I have since traded for four litres of tasty homemade soup (TMR).