Always be listing


I haven’t been picking as much recently. Instead, I’ve been focusing on getting things listed before the Christmas rush. I’m up to 235 eBay listings which is an all-time record for me – I think I had around 150 at this time last year. More listings means more money, as the Scavenger Life folks always say, so this listing spree bodes well for my profitability in the short-term.

Despite all my efforts though I can’t seem to defeat my pile of unlisted items. The further I dig, the more I find. Some of the stuff I’m listing has sat around for years. This can be reassuring when I think of it all as future cash, but frustrating when I approach listing it as a battle that I can’t seem to win. The latter feeling though is avoidable if I’m able to curb my workaholic tendencies.

Regardless, I’ve still been picking via bike in the Plateau and Mile End. It’s a good way for me to get out of the house and do some exercise. I’ve had a bit more luck in these neighbourhoods recently, perhaps because the cold and snow deters some of others pickers who would normally patrol them. I came across the pile above while walking to the post office.


I found some miscellaneous electronic bric-a-brac in one of the bags. I thought the best score would the the Apple keyboard on the bottom, but unfortunately a bunch of the keys don’t work despite it looking fairly clean. If it worked it’d be worth around 40$.

The real get might end up being the Elgato EyeTV thing (second from top left). For some odd reason they seem to be going for pretty good money – between 60$ and 200$ at BIN. This despite it being released way back in 2006. I picked it up thinking that it was probably junk, but it must do something that no other product can do. I listed mine for 170$, and I’ll let you know how it goes.


On another bike ride I saved a collection of mostly American pennies, some Wii controllers, a vintage 1980s calculator, and a relatively modern digital camera with a busted screen. The Wii controllers were a nice find because my roommate was actually looking for some. I threw the calculator in with an eBay lot of vintage calculators, and I’ll soon include the digital camera in a lot of busted or untested digital cameras. On its own the camera would fetch me around 15$.


I had some good luck on my Monday night bike ride.


Based on what I found I’d guess that someone around my age (but richer) moved and ditched some of their old crap. The toque is a nice find, as I have a tendency to lose a toque or two every winter. The sunglasses aren’t fancy or anything – they’re made to promote Budweiser and Coke – but they look cool and their lenses actually protect against UV. They’ll make good yard sale material! The watch is a Puma, which is a decent marque.


Buddy also threw away a bunch of change. A lot of it is foreign money, but there’s a fair bit of Canadian currency in there too. I’ll bring it all to the change machine once I get enough.


I also found a busted LG Nexus phone. It’s a 16gb D820 from 2014 so it still has some value as a “for parts” unit. I’d guess that it’s worth around 30-40$ in its present condition.


My favourite find though was this Bluetooth speaker. I’ve been wanting one for a while and it actually works great! These look to sell for around 100$ but I’ll be keeping it myself. I don’t have much space to work with, so I appreciate that it’s compact and doesn’t come with a lot of wires.


I came across a vintage clock not far from my place. The previous owners could have put it inside the trash bag, so I expect they placed it on the curb hoping someone would bring it home.


The big (14″ diameter) Ingraham wall clock reminds me of school. This style of clock is pretty popular right now, so I’ll probably list it on Kijiji for 80$ or so, though I am tempted to keep this for myself as well. I like its minimal design, or maybe the nostalgia it invokes.


Last but not least, I’ve been finding lots of vintage toasters. I came across this old 1950s chrome Sunbeam T-20c in Outremont. These seem to be pretty collectible, as they sell for between 60-100$ on eBay. It’s an automatic toaster, meaning that all you do it put the toast in the slot and it will lower and rise by itself. Pretty cool!


Then on my Monday evening bike ride I came across this pile, which featured two plastic shopping bags… each of which had a vintage toaster inside.


If the one on the left looks familiar it’s because the toaster is a Sunbeam Model T-20B – just slightly older than the one I found in Outremont. It seems to be similarly valuable, but unlike the T-20C (which seems to work perfectly) this one has some quirks. Mainly, the darker / lighter dial doesn’t do much of anything; this resulted in the burning of my test bagel. It’s probably an easy fix for someone, and given it’s otherwise excellent cosmetic condition I might be able to sell it “for parts or repair.” If anyone’s interested in a project let me know!

The other one was made by Morphy Richards and while very attractive isn’t quite as collectable. It’s also missing a handle, so I might just put it on the curb for someone else to take home. It seems to work just fine though.

That’s all for now! I actually had some good finds on Monday night and I’ll share those with you soon, maybe next week. Otherwise, I’m going to keep on listing. Check the links below if you want to see what I’m putting up.

Oh yeah, and I almost forgot. I decided recently to list a bunch of old jewelry I have in lots because I don’t think I’ll ever have the time or motivation to list the pieces individually. One lot is of jewelry that needs some repair or general TLC, while the other features pieces that are good to go. The former I listed for 40$ + shipping, while the latter is an auction starting at 100$ + shipping. If you’re interested check the links below. I’ll relist the auction as a BIN (set price) listing if it doesn’t sell, and as usual I’ll adjust the price downwards if they sit around for a while. However, I think these are pretty decent deals especially if you’re into a significant number of the pieces.

1. Jewelry lot (auction)
2. Jewelry lot (needs TLC)

Relevant links

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

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

18 thoughts on “Always be listing”

  1. It’s nice to see you keep a item or two of your findings. 🙂
    I’ve been watching your ebay store grow. You certainly have a lot of variety! I’m crossing my fingers you have a great Christmas season of sales.

  2. I love the change and coins that you keep finding in the trash.Why do people throw out money in the trash?$1 can feed a hungry person in a poor country for one whole day.

  3. I rescued a wonderful bookcase on the sidewalk from St.Joseph boulevard in the Plateau a few days.I find a lot of interesting junked geegaws on Resthier street,St.Joseph and Laurier streets in the upper Plateau.Do you find this part of the Plateau rich in finds?

    1. If you have a picture maybe you could show us here? You could use an image hosting site like Imgur. No pressure though.

      I like that area. St Joseph is an interesting street. There are lots of offices, and some of the apartments are pretty large. There are a lot of nice, somewhat fancier places around St Hubert as well. I can’t say I’ve found it any better than other parts of the Plateau (it’s a bit of a crapshoot all around) but I do like the area.

  4. “Test bagel” 😃 ! I love that! Where else can you read about a test bagel? Good luck for the holiday sales!

  5. I live in the West Island.My mother is 92 and has osteoporosis.She is very sharp mentally and has great vision but she is selling her house and moving into a 3-room apartment because she finds the house hard to maintain..I am clearing out the house for sale.I am keeping many of her antiques and knick-knacks and she is taking the remaining antiques to her apartment.The family is also keeping the books,the China,etc.Problem is there are tons of appliances and equipment as well as pieces of furniture that will have to be sold in a garage sale.I am writing you because I have read your blog periodically and bookmarked it.
    I found some telephone directories in the basement from the seventies,some Eatons and Sears catalogs from the early seventies too when she bought the house./Do these things have financial value,cultural value or historical value?Or should I just discard them in the recycling bin.Please respond.Your opinion means a lot.I respect history like you and never junk a family photograph.

    1. I would keep / give away / sell all that stuff! They don’t have too much financial value (maybe 10$ each for the catalogues for example, depending on the condition and contents) at the moment, but they have some cultural and historical value. They are interesting snapshots in time.

      For the phone books, I know someone who runs an archive that would likely be interested in them as a donation. Most were thrown out years ago, so it’s hard to find specific years.

      I’d try to sell the catalogues at a garage sale. Someone might want them. A friend of mine for example likes things from that era to collage with.

      Otherwise, old ephemera is always interesting. Vintage business cards, old flyers / advertisements, election signs / posters / signs are all interesting if not necessarily valuable. If you have any of that stuff and it pertains to places in Montreal my friend who runs the archive would have interest in them. The thing is, most people don’t think to save that stuff, so it can be pretty hard to find otherwise.

      Glad you like the blog! If you have any other questions let me know.

  6. Martin,your job is wonderful,great for the environment and very worthy of praise.A lot of other jobs are disappearing.Read this article from today”s New York Times that I am cutting and pasting.

    The Robot Revolution Will Be the Quietest One

    Renaud Vigourt via The New York Times


    December 7, 2016

    This is an article from Turning Points, a magazine that explores what critical moments from this year might mean for the year ahead.

    Turning Point: Though the first fatal crash involving an autonomous car took place in July 2016, self-driving vehicles have been adopted around the world.

    In 2016, self-driving cars made inroads in several countries, many of which rewrote their laws to accommodate the new technology. As a science-fiction writer, it’s my duty to warn the human race that the robot revolution has begun — even if no one has noticed yet.

    When a few autonomous test cars appeared on the roads over the last few years, we didn’t think of them as robots because they didn’t have the humanoid shape that science-fiction movies taught us to expect. In 2016, they were adopted widely: as buses in the United Arab Emirates and the Netherlands, taxis in Singapore and private cars in the United States and China. There was a fatal accident in Florida involving an autonomous car, which caused some concerns, but this did not significantly affect our embrace of this technology.

    Instead of arming ourselves against this alien presence, as some of my fellow science-fiction writers have fearfully suggested, we gawked as the vehicles pulled up to the curb. The driverless vehicles, some of which had no steering wheels or gas pedals, merged into traffic and stopped at stop signs, smoothly taking us to our destinations. We lounged in comfort, occasionally taking selfies.

    Uber’s driverless system navigating the streets of Pittsburgh. Self-driving taxis, buses and cars operated in several countries in 2016.

    Jeff Swensen for The New York Times

    Machine learning has been an important tool for autonomous car companies as they develop the systems that pilot their vehicles. Instead of rigidly following programming as an app on your phone does, an A.I. system can try to learn to do a task itself, using techniques borrowed from human learning, like pattern recognition and trial and error, and may use hardware modeled on the architecture of a human brain. Currently, the responsibilities of artificial intelligence are mostly limited to tasks like translating texts, helping with medical diagnoses and writing simple articles for media companies. But we can expect to see unimaginable progress in this field in future — and the widespread use of the autonomous car is going to accelerate that process as automobile and technology companies invest ever more resources in its development.

    Let’s try to envision that future. As during every other technological revolution, the robots will first transform our economy. People who drive for a living will lose their jobs — around 3 million in the United States alone. E-commerce may experience further booms because of automation, and car ownership is likely to become nearly obsolete as more targeted car sharing and public transportation systems are developed. Eventually, the robot cars could be integrated with other transportation systems. Say that you live in New York City and want to go to China’s Henan Province: You will enter the address into an app, a car will take you to your plane at the airport, and after you land, another will take you directly to your destination.


    Robots will begin to creep into other areas of our lives — serving as busboys or waiters, for example — as our investments in robotic transport improve their prowess in areas such as environmental detection and modeling, hyper-complex problem solving and fuzzy-logic applications. With every advance, the use of A.I.-powered robots will expand into other fields: health care, policing, national defense and education.

    There will be scandals when things go wrong and backlash movements from the new Luddites. But I don’t think we’ll protest very much. The A.I. systems that drive our cars will teach us to trust machine intelligence over the human variety — car accidents will become very rare, for example — and when given an opportunity to delegate a job to a robot, we will placidly do so without giving it much thought.

    In all previous technological revolutions, people who lost their jobs mostly moved to new ones, but that will be less likely when the robots take over. A.I. that can learn from experience will replace many accountants, lawyers, bankers, insurance adjusters, doctors, scientific researchers and some creative professionals. Intelligence and advanced training will no longer mean job stability.

    Gradually the A.I. era will transform the essence of human culture. When we’re no longer more intelligent than our machines, when they can easily outthink and outperform us, making the sort of intuitive leaps in research and other areas that we currently associate with genius, a sort of learned helplessness is likely to set in for us, and the idea of work itself may cease to hold meaning.

    Liu Cixin.

    The New York Times

    As A.I. takes over, the remaining jobs may dwindle to a fraction of what they were, employing perhaps 10 percent or even less of the total population. These may be highly creative or complex jobs that robots can’t do, such as senior management, directing scientific research or nursing and child care.

    In the dystopian scenario, as jobless numbers rise across the globe, our societies sink into prolonged turmoil. The world could be engulfed by endless conflicts between those who control the A.I. and the rest of us. The technocratic 10 percent could end up living in a gated community with armed robot guards.

    There is a second, utopian scenario, where we’ve anticipated these changes and come up with solutions beforehand. Those in political power have planned a smoother, gentler transition, perhaps using A.I. to help them anticipate and modulate the strife. At the end of it, almost all of us live on social welfare.

    How we will spend our time is hard to predict. “He who does not work, neither shall he eat” has been the cornerstone of civilizations through the ages, but that will have vanished. History shows that those who haven’t had to work — aristocrats, say — have often spent their time entertaining and developing their artistic and sporting talents while scrupulously observing elaborate rituals of dress and manners.

    In this future, creativity is highly valued. We sport ever more fantastic makeup, hairstyles and clothing. The labor of past ages seems barbaric.

    But the aristocrats ruled nations; in the A.I. era, machines are doing all the thinking. Because, over the decades, we’ve gradually given up our autonomy, step by step, allowing ourselves to be transformed into A.I.’s docile, fabulously pampered pets. As A.I. whisks us from place to place — visits to family members, art galleries and musical events — we will look out the windows, as unaware of its plans for us as a poodle on its way to the groomer’s.

    The science-fiction writer Liu Cixin is a nine-time winner of the Galaxy Award, China’s highest honor for science-fiction writing. He is the first Chinese writer to receive the Hugo Award for Best Novel, which he received for his international best seller “The Three-Body Problem.” A 3-D film adaptation will be released in 2017.

    Follow The New York Times Opinion section on Facebook and Twitter, and sign up for the Opinion Today newsletter.

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  7. I like your blog and loved reading the article on artificial intelligence above ;it makes me realize how close to mass unemployment we already are.Many people who are Young and work in steady 9 -to-5 jobs are very smug and think only the poor should do what you are doing.But their jobs are not guaranteed for long;even with education they may not find a good job in the future.Spain already has 20% unemployment or more.Donald Trump got elected because of the huge numbers of people left behind in the high-tech world and their anger.You are pretty smart, and you have carved out a niche by being independent of the job market.Keep doing it.Keep doing this.

  8. Here is another article from the London Guardian on the perils of artificial intelligence.
    Please read

    Robots will eliminate 6% of all US jobs by 2021, report says

    Employees in fields such as customer service and transportation face a ‘disruptive tidal wave’ of automation in the not-too-distant future

    An Uber automated-vehicle taking a test-drive in Pittsburgh where driverless rides are soon to become a reality.
    An Uber automated vehicle taking a test-drive in Pittsburgh, where driverless rides are soon to become a reality. Photograph: The Washington Post/Getty Images

    Olivia Solon in San Francisco

    Wednesday 14 September 2016 01.09 BST

    This article is 3 months old

    By 2021, robots will have eliminated 6% of all jobs in the US, starting with customer service representatives and eventually truck and taxi drivers. That’s just one cheery takeaway from a report released by market research company Forrester this week.

    These robots, or intelligent agents, represent a set of AI-powered systems that can understand human behavior and make decisions on our behalf. Current technologies in this field include virtual assistants like Alexa, Cortana, Siri and Google Now as well as chatbots and automated robotic systems. For now, they are quite simple, but over the next five years they will become much better at making decisions on our behalf in more complex scenarios, which will enable mass adoption of breakthroughs like self-driving cars.

    These robots can be helpful for companies looking to cut costs, but not so good if you’re an employee working in a simple-to-automate field.

    “By 2021 a disruptive tidal wave will begin. Solutions powered by AI/cognitive technology will displace jobs, with the biggest impact felt in transportation, logistics, customer service and consumer services,” said Forrester’s Brian Hopkins in the report.

    The rise of robots: forget evil AI – the real risk is far more insidious

    Read more

    The Inevitable Robot Uprising has already started, with at least 45% of US online adults saying they use at least one of the aforementioned digital concierges. Intelligent agents can access calendars, email accounts, browsing history, playlists, purchases and media viewing history to create a detailed view of any given individual. With this knowledge, virtual agents can provide highly customized assistance, which is valuable to shops or banks trying to deliver better customer service.

    Forrester paints a picture of the not-too-distant future.

    “The doorbell rings, and it’s the delivery of a new pair of running shoes, in the right style, color and size, just as you needed to replace your old ones. And here’s the kicker: you didn’t order them. Your intelligent agent did.”

    In the transportation industry, Uber, Google and Tesla are working on driverless cars, while similar technology is creeping its way into trucking to replace expensive human drivers.

    It’s easy to get dazzled by such innovations, but what happens to the 6%? The call center staff, the taxi drivers and the truckers. There may be new jobs created to oversee and maintain these automated systems, but they will require an entirely different skillset.

    “Six percent is huge. In an economy that’s really not creating regular full-time jobs, the ability of people to easily find new employment is going to diminish. So we will have people wanting to work and struggling to find jobs because the same trends are beginning to occur in other historically richer job creation areas like banking, retail and healthcare,” said Andy Stern, the former president of the Service Employees International Union.

    Self-driving trucks: what’s the future for America’s 3.5 million truckers?

    Read more

    “It’s an early warning sign and I think it just portends a massive wind of change in the future.”

    Studies have shown that higher rates of unemployment are linked to less volunteerism and higher crime. Taxi drivers around the world have already reacted with violent protest to the arrival of ride-hailing app Uber. Imagine how people react when Uber eliminates drivers from its fleet.

    “There is a lot of correlation between unemployment and drug use,” said Stern. “Clearly over time, particularly in urban settings, the lack of employment is tinder for lighting a fire of social unrest.”

    The challenge posed by automation is not being taken seriously enough at a policy level, Stern added. “Politicians would rather talk about getting a college degree and technical skill training, things that are probably five to 10 years too late. We don’t really have a plan and we don’t appreciate how quickly the future is arriving.”

    Does this mean we’re all doomed? “No. But what level of pain do people have to experience and what level of social unrest has to be created before the government acts?

    Workers, many of whom don’t have technical skills, are competing for less and less jobs. If the market works without intervention we’re going to have no way to mediate the displacement.”

    More news
    Artificial intelligence (AI)
    US work & careers
    Self-driving cars

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  9. Hi,Martin.I hope you will find a lot of treasures soon because in this cold and snow there is less competition.An acquaintance whom I see collecting bottles,cans,books and geegaws from the trash in St.Henri told me that he bikes to Westmount every now and then to search the trash.He said he finds a lot of good stuff there and that three years ago he found and rescued a Rolex watch from the trash in Westmount.Should I believe him on this point?Did you ever find Rolex watches in the trash?Let us know.

    1. I’ve never found a Rolex but I have found an Omega and a Longines though, which are about the same caliber of upper middle class watch. So it’s possible, though he could also have found a fake as those are pretty common. I’ve found lots of fake Rolexes. If he was able to sell it for good money then it’s probably real, if he still has it then there’s a decent chance it’s fake and he just doesn’t know it yet.

  10. I like your blog. I live in a very poor rural area in the deep U.S. South, so I do not find anything along the lines of what you do. However, I do enjoy thrifting and love reading about your finds. Keep up the good work!

    1. Glad you like the blog! I’d keep an eye out for trash regardless. If there’s history in your area you might be able to find very collectible old junk and ephemera. I’ve found some very cool stuff in poor neighbourhoods, though it’s kind of like looking for a needle in a haystack.

  11. […] I’ve been wanting one of these for a while! I don’t have much space to work with so I like how it doesn’t clutter up my room with wires. These go for around 100$, making it a pretty nice get. I found it not long ago while biking around the Mile End. […]

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