The end of summer is near. Maybe that’s a good thing, because I haven’t found much of value since it began!
I consider an average week to be one where I find around 500$ worth of stuff – that would give me an income of 26000$ for the year. I looked back at my recent blogs posts and found that I’ve had maybe two such weeks (out of a possible 16) since mid-May, and that’s assuming my Sonneman lamp and vintage US military posters make me as much as I think they can. I’d guess that over the summer I’ve averaged maybe 300$ of finds a week, or 1200$ a month.
That’s just not very good, and it’s hard not to overthink things after such an extended poor stretch. I start wondering if I’m doing something wrong, if people just aren’t throwing things away like they used to, if I’ve inspired a legion of pickers who are finding my stuff before I get there, if this cat I found eating garbage in St Michel is somehow to blame, and so on.
However, the most likely explanation here is that I’ve just run into a stretch of bad luck. Overall I can be expected to find a certain amount of garbage over a full year. Sometimes I’ll have a really good week or month (for example, this January was pretty good mostly thanks to one great pile, and it felt like I couldn’t stop finding great stuff last May) while other times will be more like this summer. I have to assume that at some point my finds will regress to the mean, or in other words my luck will switch to neutral or good instead of bad. Let’s hope my luck improves in time for the holiday season!
The week before last was actually pretty horrible. The only noteworthy thing I found was a collection of cute vintage dishes and ashtrays. At top left is an ashtray made to promote the unfortunately named Squaw Valley ski resort.
Last week was a bit better, though still mediocre from a value standpoint. I also found some disturbing old papers as I’ll explain a bit later.
I fished this little jewellery box out of some bags on McLynn in NDG. Inside was mostly junk or broken jewellery, but also a few bits of scrap gold and a nice pair of vintage screw back ballerina earrings that were tied together by a muck of twisted chains. The earrings are adorned with marcasite and small turquoise stones. I later noticed that the earrings were marked as sterling silver, but I haven’t tested them to be sure. The scrap gold (including a busted chain, a small pendant or charm, and a ring that might or might not be gold) will probably make me around 50$ when I bring it to be melted.
Someone in TMR put their entire 90s JVC stereo setup (except for the speakers I suppose) on the curb. I tested everything (receiver, cassette deck, CD player, and record player) and it all works fine. They look very lightly used, and I expect that I can sell the entire collection for close to 200$.
Rosemont was my most interesting (and also unsettling) run of the week. I came across a few different productive piles, one of which provided me a collection of vintage “Made in Japan” figurines and wall decorations. Most are repaired or slightly broken, but I think most are still cute enough to sell at a yard sale.
I found a 10k gold pendant at the same pile. It’s probably worth about 30$ in gold content.
That’s it for the nice stuff though. Not far from that spot lay some papers that you might find downright disturbing. I won’t say much about them now except that they advance far-right, fascist, and Neo-Nazi political views. I feel that I should share them because they represent a very real part of our culture, but if you prefer not to see this kind of stuff I would suggest skipping my next post. It should be done tomorrow or the next day, and will be called “Hateful Things.”
18 thoughts on “Far-right”
Very nice of you to give a trigger warning for your next post (the current debate over trigger warning makes me cringe, isn’t just a thoughtful thing to do ?). I’ll personally look forward to it, just like any of your post! Good luck with a new season of garbage finds !
I figured it was a good idea in this case. I personally find the stuff interesting, but I recognize that this is a privilege for me as a white guy. Other people might not enjoy looking at it, and that’s pretty reasonable given how offensive and scary these ideas are.
The tide ebbs and flows. I am sorry that you are feeling the ebb right now. My summer has been cash poor as well since I don’t teach very much during the vacation months. May the flow return!
Hope things pick up for you now that cooler weather is here. Maybe people were just too hot to root out their stuff 🙁
I enjoyed reading the analysis of the ebb and flow of the scavenging business. May the flow increase forthwith!
I, for one, am intrigued by the subject of your next post. I know you’ll handle such a sensitive subject with your usual thoughtful approach.
As the motto in an old Dinotopia book says, “Breathe deep, seek peace.”
It’s been dead on my end too. The weekly runs always used to net me something, but I have been coming back dry so many times, that I don’t bother anymore because I can’t afford to waste the gas. I have been mainly relying on my “firsts of the month” for the big bulk item days. But even some of those towns have been disappointing lately. I definitely have noticed that people aren’t throwing out as much as they used to and I think it’s just because real estate out here has stalled. Nobody is quickly clearing out and moving as much…so many houses around here have been for sale forever, nothing is moving. Until the market picks back up, I think my finds will stay few and far between. I wanted to break my sales record from last year, but I don’t know if I’ll make it.
Finding things you are looking for is the best incentive. Find something really neat, and the fantasy of finding more keeps you going. But if nothing comes your way, it’s easer to give up.
It’s the same with garage sales. In the spring it’s great, but after July 1st there’s a shift, at least in Montreal. People aren’t getting rid of thing before they move, so it’s less interesting stuff to me. Go up along street and see nothing interesting, and you may not try the next time. It usually picks up in late August, but I haven’t really noticed that this year. But I’m distracted by other things, so it becomes less appealing.
I just walk, so garbage and garage sales are an excuse to get out walking. But if I can’t get exited, then there goes the walking.
The real estate market definitely would have an effect. Given that you’re in a rural area it probably effects you a bit more too, and your dry spells are probably more pronounced because there’s less people involved.
Things are a bit easier for me because there’s lots of people and the population density is denser. City picking is sort of “recession proof,” at least as long as the city is in good economic health. While I have stretches of bad luck, all it takes is one of 3 million or so (or 250000, which I’d say is my weekly reach) to make a bad decision in order to make me a good profit. And so far, despite my poor luck I’m still confident I can make a living doing this.
(Edit: it also helps that I can switch neighbourhoods when I’m not having luck in a certain place. For instance, on Sunday nights I might go to St Michel, a piece of Cote-des-Neiges and Outremont, or lower Plateau / Old Montreal / St Henri. Unfortunately though switching things up hasn’t done me much good recently!)
Anyways good luck! I’m sure things will turn around at some point, and all it takes is one great pile to make your night. I’m pretty sure the late summer (like Michael says) is actually just a slow time for trash, and that things should pick up soon now that fall is near. I’ve actually had a pretty good week so far, no big ticket eBay stuff thus far but lots of good quality yard sale items.
the cost of living is rising while any means to make a buck is being dropped lower and harder to do………..
How often do you guys pick (extended to the commenters also)?
I pick almost everyday. First my favorite local thrift store & all the 4 dumpsters in my apartment complex. Surprising what young people will throw away.
Agreed, thrift stores can be pretty good places to pick! I don’t go to any currently (most other Montrealers have caught onto this it seems) but they’re worth checking out if you live nearby.
I personally have little luck when it comes to big apartment complexes. I think it’s because there’s usually at least one person living there that knows to keep an eye on the dumpsters.
At most I go on trash hunts with the car five nights a week and take four garbage-related bike rides. My bike rides are on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday evenings (usually leave around 5pm) owing to the nearby trash days.
I’ll usually take a day or sometimes two off a week from biking if I’m feeling tired, but otherwise I might do all four. My bike rides are through very hit and miss neighbourhoods (ie: Plateau / Mile End / occasionally Rosemont) so I don’t take them too seriously, they’re most just a way for me to get out of the house and get some exercise. I do sometimes find good stuff on these treks however.
My drives though are a bit more like work, though they can still be fun (I enjoy listening to the radio during). I will go out most every Sunday – Thursday night. I go out Sunday night because there’s garbage days on Monday morning, and I don’t go out Friday or Saturday night because there’s no (nearby and worthwhile, at least) trash days on Saturday / Sunday morning. This means I get a pretty normal weekend, which is nice.
You must try different neighborhoods and also maybe do the Plateau and Mile End also more often on bike.You can make a lot of money by rescuing items for copper and rescuing resaleable items like discarded lamps,air conditioners,fans,etc.Also picking 20-cent cans helps.If you only look for historical items,antiques and knick-knacks,naturally you are more likely to come up empty some weeks.
I should switch up the neighbourhoods a bit more, true. I already do the Plateau / Mile End pretty regularly by bike though.
I prefer to stick with selling the historical / eBayable stuff. I find I sometimes get overworked as is, so adding scrap metal and cans to the docket is likely just to make me burnt out. Collecting them would take up both physical and mental energy I could use otherwise. While things have been slow, I think I’ve still made more than I would have if I had also hunted for scrap metal and copper. Besides, there are a lot of scrappers and can pickers in the Plateau / Mile End already – that market is pretty saturated.
There is plenty of good stuff thrown out every week on West Island,but you only do a small sampling of streets each week.You rarely even go to West Island.I live in Pierrefonds and I saw twenty or thirty boxes full of stuff in front of a house for garbage pick-up.I rummaged through two of them and picked up lots of yarn,sewing needles and other interesting stuff.The other boxes seemed to have old magazines,comic books,old but useful utensils,cosmetics,plates and cups,teddy bears,clothes,etc,etc.I had only 5 minutes to examine the stuff and I raced to catch my bus that comes only once every 30 minutes.
Sounds like a great pile! I like the idea of the West Island, but it’s not very economical from a time / cost perspective. For instance, to get to Pierrefonds would be an extra hour (say, 30 minutes one way 30 minutes back) before I even see any garbage. It would also cost me about 10$ or so in gas. So, valuing my time at around 15$/h, and then adding the cost of gas (as well as extra wear and tear from driving, and so on) the cost would be closer to 30$. A typical trip might cost me about 10$ in gas / effort.
I also don’t like driving that much (I enjoy it in short bursts) so I don’t see myself doing any regular garbage runs to the West Island anytime soon. I’m sure there’s lots of great stuff out there, but I don’t feel too bad because I have plenty of good neighborhoods around here as well.
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