Monthly Archives: October 2016

Cool tools / efficiency

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I’ve had some good luck recently finding useful stuff!

It all started with this collection of furniture I found on the curb in Rosemont. I’d been wanting a set of drawers, so I unloaded the car (which was full of junk) and came back for the dresser on the right. It was a challenge to get the thing in the trunk by myself but it all worked out.

I’m always paranoid about bedbugs, especially with furniture and especially when I see it in dense, working class neighbourhoods. However, I inspected the dresser and saw no signs of infestation – if anything it was unusually clean. It’s good to be wary though – I recommend checking out my guide to avoiding bedbuggy trash if you’re ever considering taking something off the curb!

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Anyways, the dresser replaced a trunk in my room. It’s a lot better for storing the small items I tend to find, and I also like that I can stash some stuff underneath.

(FYI, I do have the missing handle. It’s broken but might be easy enough to glue back together).

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However, the best part is that switching the trunk with the dresser allowed me to finally set up a light box! I wasn’t able to before because the trunk was top loading, and moving the setup every time I wanted in the trunk would have been very annoying.

(Here’s the light box I bought. The price is 300$ now for whatever reason. I paid 100$ and would recommend it at that price, but 300$ seems a bit rich).

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It’s just a small box, but it’s big enough to photograph most of the items I find. It makes listing on eBay much easier that’s for sure! I no longer have to rely on natural light or plan around the weather, and can take clear photos at any time of day. Here’s a picture I took recently using the light box.

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Here’s a photo I took outdoors, just to show the contrast. This photo is good enough for eBay – I’ve seen some truly disastrous examples of photography on there – but it’s not great and it’s certainly not a game-changer. Some turned out better than this, but I regularly had to deal with these sorts of long shadows and weird lighting and would often end up compromising on photo quality. I’m still learning how best to use the box, but its consistency is obviously a plus.

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A few days later I found an old Windows XP desktop computer, a monitor, and a laser printer in two large boxes on the curb.

I should mention that I’ve long had an irrational hatred of printers. Especially those stupid inkjet ones that are designed to be thrown in the trash after the cartridge runs out. It seemed like every time I’d try to use one I’d encounter a software issue that was unreasonably hard or impossible to figure out, there would be paper jam for no particular reason (actually the reason was that the modern inkjet printer, even when new is a cheap piece of junk), or the print quality would just be crap. I hated printers, and though I’ve seen many inkjet printers on the curb in my time I’ve never bothered to take any.

However, maybe this one is different. I plugged it in and the photocopy function seemed to work okay, though the print was very blotchy. Thanks to the minimal, no-nonsense setting layout I was easily able to find the “clean heads” function which I ran several times. Soon enough the print quality was very good. Installing the drivers also proved easy, and I found myself printing in no time!

For years I’ve been hand-writing the labels on my shipments. I didn’t mind doing that, especially considering my hatred of printers, but it was far from efficient given my profession and increasing number of sales. Lately I’ve been enjoying printing my labels. I definitely like not having to double check the address, or re-write the label when I inevitably screwed up. It’s also great that PayPal automatically adds the tracking number to eBay, saving me the effort of doing so myself.

Perhaps this Samsung SCX-4200 will be my BPF (best printer forever)! Oh, and the computer worked well too. I was tempted to keep it but decided to list it on Kijiji instead. I don’t have much space to work with, so continuing to use a laptop is probably my best bet.

All in all these finds (and one purchase) will help me run this operation a fair bit more efficiently. They should save me time, but perhaps more importantly hassle, leaving me more energy to find more, list more, or just chill out.

Otherwise, I had a … let’s go with “interesting” encounter with the police last week that ended with me getting a ticket and them forcing me to get a mechanical inspection – basically another safety – of the car I was driving despite it being in rather good condition. All this because I had the nerve to look through trash in one of Montreal’s wealthier neighbourhoods. My next post will describe the experience in detail!

Relevant links

1. Facebook page
2. My eBay listings
3. Etsy store
4. Kijiji listings
5. Contribute to garbagefinds.com

Email: thingsifindinthegarbage@gmail.com. I often fall behind on emails, so I apologize in advance if it takes me a while to get back to you.

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Finder’s fee

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I have a story from my Monday night run that I think you’ll like!

I stopped at a large pile that featured a busted dresser and lots of black garbage bags. Some guy was standing out front, and after I started poking around he called out to tell me that the trash was “cochonerie”.

The French here use that word for garbage a lot. I always find it funny, because in my mind it translates to “store for pigs,” with cochon meaning pig and the suffix “erie” usually meaning some kind of store. I don’t know if there’s a literal translation for that word, but I guess it’s similar to calling a place a pig sty.

Either way, he didn’t seem to mind me looking through the stuff as long as I tied the bags well afterwards. I think he was probably hired to clean the place out and maybe do some work on it. He mentioned that the person who last lived there owned a lot of cats.

After poking through these bags for a bit and finding little of value, another guy approached me from the street and asked me if I’d found anything good. Not really, I say. I never answer this question truthfully regardless, because it doesn’t benefit me whatsoever to brag about my finds. It just leads to more competition and potentially jealousy, which is an emotion that’s best avoided.

After looking around the pile a bit he starts telling me his story. Apparently his mom had lived in the house for thirty years until she passed a couple years ago, and his brother had lived there rent-free for the past five years. He didn’t seem to think much of his brother. Anyways, he had owned the house and recently sold it, forcing his brother to move. He thought his brother might have thrown out some of his mother’s old stuff when he moved, which is why he asked me if I had found anything good.

So he’s talking to me and I’m opening up bags, and then I spot this little change purse amongst some junk. Now, when I find something good, or even just potentially good I will try as hard as possible not to show it off. Again, it doesn’t bring me much benefit to do so. This time though, for whatever reason I opened the change purse right in front of the guy. Inside were five very nice looking rings.

I had a brief time where I was able to look at the rings. Most looked like gold, but I didn’t see any gold marks around the band which would be a little unusual for gold pieces. I also weighed a single ring in my hand and it didn’t feel that heavy. Though it was a thin ring, I find that gold usually has a weight to it that other metals don’t have.

The guy sees these rings and asks if he could have them. He said the family had been looking for them, and the assumption was that the brother had stolen the rings. Apparently that was not the case.

I think it over for a second, but what could I really do? I gave him the rings. I believed his story, at least in general, and he seemed to have a legit claim to them. Also, I’m not very good at playing hardball in these situations.

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Fortunately, it all kind of worked out. I, with that sort of confused sinking feeling you get when you wonder if you just gave away thousands of dollars, said “Well, I’m doing you a big favor here!” Which was the truth after all. He responded by asking me if I wanted something, and I said I wouldn’t say no. He pulled this 100$ bill out of his wallet and gave it to me, saying that it was a “finder’s fee”.

I wonder if I should have grilled him for more. I could tell he had more cash in his wallet, and the house he sold probably would have went for at least 500k (and apparently he owned more that one building) so money wasn’t really a big problem for him. However, I was just happy to get anything at all, and it’s always exciting to see a 100$ bill.

I’ll probably always wonder though what those rings were worth. They looked quite nice, but I didn’t see any gold marks. Also, they were all inside a cheap looking bag that came from China – on it was written gold (perhaps just the color) and cubic zirconia. So who knows. While I might have missed out on thousands of dollars, it’s also conceivable that I got the best possible deal for these rings. I’ll probably never know.

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He left not long after this transaction. I looked through the last of the bags, finding an old photo album in one of them. Inside were some photos of the family working on the house in what was probably the early 80s. Happier times perhaps. If he was still around I would have asked if he wanted it, though I’m not really sure he would have. It seemed like his relationship to his family was complex to say the least. I took the album and put it in my storage, just in case I ever run into that guy again.

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As for what else I found, like I said it was nearly all junk. But I did find these two necklaces, which I’m quite sure are amber (I scratched a spot in the inside and they seem to give off that tree resin smell) in the bottom of one bag. If they’re indeed amber they’re probably the nicest such pieces I’ve come across – one has a butterscotch tone and weighs 100g while the other is the more classic glowing orange and weighs 80g. In the glowing orange one there appears to be a rock stuck inside the amber, which you can see in the pictures below.

I don’t really understand the amber market. Some amber is close to worthless while some is very valuable. Let me know if you have any information that might help me price them!

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Opium

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I’m a bit behind on my blog posts. Thankfully it’s because I’ve been finding lots of great trash! It makes me wonder if fall is a good garbage finding season, and if summer (perhaps counter-intuitively) actually isn’t really all that great. I don’t have enough data yet to say one way or the other, but over the last two years that has been the case.

I started the week of October 3rd by finding this Tascam 4-track recording device in NDG. My roommate happened to be looking for one, so if it works (unfortunately I didn’t find the power cable) he’ll buy it from me. These go for around 150-250$ with shipping on eBay, though having to buy a power cord will cut into that profit a bit.

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I was up pretty late the next night, partly due to the Blue Jays game that went long and the fact that I had to do a lot of sorting on the street.

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There was jewelry in a lot of those bags, and it took some time to make sure I didn’t miss anything good. Most of it was costume stuff that should do well at my next yard sale. I did the hot water test on those large plastic beads to see if they were Bakelite but they didn’t emit any funky scents.

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There were a few silver pieces as well as one pair of 14k gold earrings. The nicest of the bunch was probably that brooch in the middle which has a modernist look to it. On the back is marked “AIE 925.” I couldn’t figure out who AIE might be, but if you have any ideas let me know! Regardless, it should do well on Etsy.

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This pile required even more sorting. There were a lot of bags on the curb, and the stuff I found in the first few made me want to look through them all. I spent over an hour here, which is a big part of the reason I ended up getting to bed at 4AM.

There were a lot of cosmetics in the bags. Most were undesirable, like old lotions and oils that don’t age well.

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The big score here was the perfume. Two new-in-box vintage bottles of Yves St Laurent “Opium” are the most valuable – one is even still in its original plastic with an Eaton’s (a Canadian retailer than went out of business in 1999) price stuck to it. Bottles in this condition go for as much as 200$, though I might have to wait a while at that price. Regardless, I think 150$ each is the “floor” here, which is still awesome.

I found other quality scents as well including a few bottles of YSL “Paris”, one of which is nearly full, a “Je Reviens” by Worth in a bottle made by Lalique, and plenty of miniatures.

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Oh, and a whole bunch of samples. I assume many of these are vintage too. I’ll see if I can sell them at a yard sale.

If you like perfumes then you’ll be happy to know that this is just the beginning! This spot last week produced my biggest ever perfume haul, which I’ll show you two posts from now. I think that collection will end up making me a nice chunk of change.

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On the next night I came across a bag full of vintage 1970s reel-to-reel porn. I like to keep this blog PG-13 so you definitely don’t get to see any of the covers, but be assured that they’re very graphic. It appears that there’s a decent market for this stuff and I expect it’ll sell as a lot for around 100$. However, I probably shouldn’t sell it from my usual eBay account.

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In Outremont I came across a bag with a bunch of photos inside. Unfortunately though most of the photos were ripped up. I see this happen on a regular enough basis, and I assume people do it for a variety of reasons. Still, seeing it is always a bit disappointing. Who knows what kind of cool history is lost this way?

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Fortunately several photos didn’t get torn up for whatever reason, and a few of them are kind of neat. In the bottom right photo is a guy named Pierre Mollet (left), a Canadian opera singer who’s apparently worthy of a Wikipedia page. I’m not big into opera so I’ve never heard of him personally.

Otherwise, the picture of the guy on the horse is pretty cool. It’s a real photo postcard that’s probably around 100 years old. The guy looks to be wearing a uniform, so it might have been taken during WWI. If anyone knows more about the origins of the photo let us know in the comments! I’d be interesting to know in what country it was shot, for example. The sign in the background could be a hint, though you can’t really read it. Click on the picture and zoom in if you want a better look – it’s a pretty high quality scan.

That’s all for now. Here’s hoping the good finds keep up!

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