Recent sales (December 5 – December 31)

The holiday season wasn’t nearly as profitable as I hoped it would be. I enjoyed a nice flurry of sales around the end of November but after that things dried up quite a bit. I’m guessing that it’s because my wares aren’t often the kind of thing people think of when they’re buying Christmas gifts. I expect my luck to improve in January though, and I’ve already made a few good sales early on.

My goal for much of the year was to make 24k in 2016, and I came up short of that. However, I decided late in the year that I didn’t actually care all that much about the goal, and decided to hold onto some stuff (scrap gold in particular) until the new year so as to lower my tax burden. That would have brought me pretty close to the goal. I don’t know if I’ll work as hard in 2017 as I did in 2016 (I may focus on different projects a bit more), and if my income is lower waiting to sell that stuff will have been a wise decision.

Either way, I know 24k was possible. I probably would have made it if not for the experience with the police late in the year, and I still think I could make 30k a year if the circumstances were right. But I’m also wondering now if being a full-time trash picker / flipper is really my best career choice, for a variety of reasons. Still, I’m sure to be a regular picker regardless, as it’s fun, good exercise (at least when biking), and often profitable.

Now, let me show you the final sales of 2016. My next post will features my best finds of the year!


1. Vintage U.F.O.BI (UFO-shaped Frisbee): On eBay for 100$. This might be one of my favourite sales ever. I found it around six years ago – long before this blog saw the light of day – amongst some rubbish in an alley near my house. My friends and I played with the U.F.O.BI on a few occasions but it was more of a joke than anything – it was heavy, didn’t fly particularly well, and wasn’t very fun especially compared to a normal frisbee.

Even though it wasn’t much fun I kept U.F.O.BI for years because it made me laugh. I also found it oddly charming and slightly mysterious – I couldn’t find a single reference to any other U.F.O.BIs on Google. For all I knew it was one-of-a-kind, though I imagine there’s a few others floating around out there somewhere.


It was made by Wedco, a long forgotten plastics company based in Boucherville Quebec. I imagine the toy was made in the 50s or 60s but didn’t “take off” like the company had hoped. The U.F.O.BI looks to have been Wedco’s only foray into the toy industry.

Around two years ago I started wondering if there might actually be a market for U.F.O.BI. It was a vintage toy, seemingly quite rare, made in Quebec, and related to UFOs so it wasn’t inconceivable that some collector might want it. Only recently though did I actually get around to listing it on eBay. I had fun writing the description, openly and honestly talking about how the U.F.O.BI was kind of dirty, slightly bent, and wasn’t all that fun to play with. When I chose a price I went with 100$, because why not? It wasn’t like there were any other U.F.O.BIs flying around on eBay, and I could always lower the price later.

To my partial surprise, U.F.O.BI gained some eBay watchers pretty quickly, and sold within two weeks of being listed. It was time to say goodbye to my unusual frisbee. I like to think that it went to a good home. The buyer left good feedback, in it noting that U.F.O.BI was a “unique vintage toy,” so chances are he’s a vintage toy collector.

I’m happy about this sale because it shows how far I’ve come as a seller. I was able to sniff out a market for the most random thing, and that’s a skill that should come in handy going forward. Also, it was fun telling my friends that I managed to get 100$ for something they saw as total junk.


2. Vintage Tupperware Picnic set: On eBay for 30$. Found on St Urbain in the Mile End this summer.


3. 1980 O-Pee-Chee Wayne Gretzky cards: On eBay for 30$. These were the only ones from the batch I found in Villeray that were worth listing on eBay. The rest I sold for a few bucks at a yard sale.


4. Dunhill brush / manicure set holder: On eBay for 50$. Found mid December in CDN.


5. 1970s Fort Bragg recruitment posters: On eBay for 80$. I’m glad that I was finally able to unload some of these posters! I still have all of the other ones, and I hope that they start moving soon. Found late August in Outremont.


6. Vintage postcards: On eBay for 40$. I sold one lot of American postcards for 25$, and two St Joseph’s Oratory cards for 15$. Of the latter, the “luminous” glow in the dark card (above) was definitely the most notable.


7. Vintage c.1920s bottle – JL Corriveau “Champagne”: On eBay for 80$. I’m not sure what this drink would have been, but it almost certainly wasn’t booze (and definitely not real champagne) given that it contained natural and artificial flavors. I’m guessing it was a soft drink related somehow to the Red Champagne which is specific to the Saguenay Lac-St-Jean region of Quebec. I wasn’t able to find anything quite like it online. Found with a few other old bottles in the Plateau in the fall of 2015.


8. Gray Barker UFO ephemera: On eBay for 10$. I found a bit more UFO stuff after I sold that last big haul. I don’t normally list things for that little but I figured it’d be an easy sale and it took no effort to ship. Found in Rosemont.


9. Yves St Laurent Opium EdT: On eBay for 35$. Another bottle from that great perfume collection I found a few months ago.


10. Vintage transitional watch band: On eBay for 50$. This thing was made so that you could put a pocket watch on your wrist. Found this spring in Ahuntsic.


11. Silver and marcasite earrings: On Etsy for 34$. These were very nice earrings but my photos were pretty uninspiring. Taking good jewelry photos is a lot easier now that I have the light box. Found last year in Westmount.


12. Sheaffer Pen for Men I: On eBay for 175$. This unassuming pen ended up being a pretty nice get! It went for a great price despite not being in perfect condition. Found a few weeks ago in Cote-des-neiges.

Total: 744$, 22014$ in 2016.

25 thoughts on “Recent sales (December 5 – December 31)”

  1. Thank you for another great blog post. Each one is such a terrifically random glimpse into human/Canadian/Montrealian culture — things we’ve made and bought and discarded and reclaimed and sold yet again…I can understand why you might be questioning this undertaking as your main source of income, and I applaud you to doing it as long as you decide to do it!!!

  2. That vintage Tupperware set was my lunch box in the 4th grade! Memories 🙂

  3. Loved your UFO Frisbee story. 🙂
    Wishing you a productive and profitable 2017, in whatever you choose to do.
    Looking forward to reading your best finds of 2016 post.

  4. Pretty cool year,in terms of lowering tax burden,i super-recommend a decent,friendly accountant,you have deductions up the wazoo,plus would be very much worth your while to look into a reer,(40% deduction,plus return if you’ve paid Any tax at all,plus it”s money in the bank) or ftq reer,(same thing,except 70% deduction) plus any accountant’s fees also deductible.Should you decide to pick &&,do other stuff,(contract,short-term,on call,etc..) a decent,friendly accountant’s as valuable as a good family doctor or dentist.i’ve often juggled occupations & boy has it saved me a lot of trouble.Better picking’ in the new year 😉

    1. I have an old friend who’s a CA, he helps me with my taxes every year. There is a lot of stuff I can deduct, like the camera I bought, gas, and so on. I can ask him about the reer.

  5. Not sure why you wouldn’t sell something right away because you want to lower your tax burden. Youre well below the approximate 45k (Federally) or 42k )Provincially) that you need to earn before a higher bracket kicks in.

    The basic personal amount where you dont pay any tax is also less than 12k (Federally), so unless you think 2017 will be a tough year you are always better to get your money asap!

    Also, the ebay and etsy stores would be the only income you’d have to claim on your income tax. You wouldnt have to claim income for selling gold you found while picking.

    1. I don’t really know much about taxes to be honest. But I did pay something to provincial last year. Keep in mind too that unlike people who have regular work there are no deductions taken from my paycheck, so I have to pay that stuff. Though I might have to pay that regardless, I don’t know.

      Why not claim the gold? Income is income right?

      1. You should definitely read up on taxes in Quebec and in Canada, particularly as you are essentially a small business owner in the eyes of the Government. As another poster mentioned, you are likely missing out on significant deductions for your expenses over the year that can have a great impact on your bottom line.

        Scrap metal sales are a very grey area when it comes to your work. IMO you wouldn’t have to claim income selling scrap for several reasons. For starters, there isn’t an actual paper trial as with your listings, unless you have some sort of registered account with businesses that you sell to. The amount you are selling scrap for is likely less than it’s value as jewelry. Scrap may not even cover your picking expenses – fuel, electricity, public transit, warm clothing, shoes etc.and in this case with no reasonable expectation of profit I would consider scrap sales as hobby income. You are not guaranteed to find something as specific as scrap metal when you go picking etc. You can already claim small business expense deductions just based on your listings and benefit from that. Long story short, I would consider scrap metal sales as your hobby income, while everything else your actual business income.

        Here’s a couple of interesting articles to read through quickly: (good explanation)

        Read up on things, and when you file your taxes this year, apply what you’ve learned (or go to an accountant). Your savings, or experience will make for a great post.

  6. Omg, that tupperware lunchbox. While everyone else in my elementary school got to carry a yellow thermos lunchbox with scooby doo on the front, I got this lame one, wondering when the teasing would ever end! lol

      1. Lol I’d dig it today! It was hard to open and close with little hands. I preferred a plastic grocery bag for my lunch instead of it!

  7. Maybe not your most impressive of this list, but I’m quite impressed you managed to make $10 out of two scraps of paper.

  8. You should resume your scavenging immediately.Due to this bitter cold,there will be little competition from other scavengers on many days in January and February.

  9. I do not like Marie Kondo’s ideas.Read this article by Laura Vanderkam

    The life-changing magic of not tidying up

    December 17, 2014|66 comments

    photo-254Here are some interesting things to know about Marie Kondo. When this young Japanese “cleaning consultant” comes home from work, “I greet the waist-high potted plant by the window and stroke its leaves,” she says. Having fondled the foliage, “My next task is to empty the contents of my handbag on the rug and put each item away in its place.” Not even the wallet or train pass are allowed to stay in her purse. Everything must be put in its designated spot. “Before closing the drawer, I say ‘Thanks for all you did for me today.’”

    All this comes from her new book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, a best seller that, despite its instructions to purge, purge, purge has, ironically, sold 2 million copies that will no doubt linger on people’s shelves forever. Kondo claims to have a long waiting list of clients. Those she has worked with using her “KonMari Method” have never lapsed. I heard from several people that they found the book intriguing, so I decided to read it.

    It is among the most bizarre tomes I have ever picked up.

    Kondo’s habit of talking to her plants and purses is interesting enough, though to be fair, there are elements of Shintoism in treating objects as imbued with energy and spots in the household as shrines. Kondo worked as a shrine tender for several years in an earlier career. This blending of religion and practical matters has a long history, and Americans have produced plenty of self-help books claiming that God wants you to be rich, happy, etc. So I tried to read those parts of the book with an open mind. But Kondo is fully transparent that her interest in tidying did not stem from the healthiest of places. She says multiple times that her family didn’t have time for her, that her siblings absorbed all the attention. “Because I was poor at developing bonds of trust with people, I had an unusually strong attachment to things,” she writes. She was lonely, and turned to tidying as a way to be useful and, she hoped, make her family value her. “When I came home, I headed straight for the place I had decided to clean that day without even changing out of my school uniform.”

    All this tidying finally ended in a divine revelation of sorts. She had spent years tidying and felt she was getting no where. So she plopped herself in the middle of the room, practically screaming in frustration. Then, a voice came to her. She heard a message, though instead of telling her to sell all she had and give the money to the poor, the voice told her to “Look more closely at what is there.” She should keep things she loved, rather than focus on what she didn’t. The only reason to keep something is an affirmative answer to the question “Does this spark joy?”

    With this insight, Marie Kondo launched into a new consciousness of tidying. The book has some decent advice. For instance, this: “Getting rid of other people’s things without permission demonstrates a sad lack of common sense.” You cannot force your vision of the world on other people. You can only act it out yourself and trust that if they see your calm and happiness, they will be likewise inspired. This is much better than the “be sneaky” sort of advice often tossed around in women’s magazines for getting rid of kids’ toys. Also, don’t take the weasel route of handing things down to family members who don’t want them. This doesn’t actually solve the problem. And finally, in our consumer society, you really don’t need to fear getting rid of most physical objects. If you do find you need them in the future, you’ll be able to get them.

    Of course, there’s also a lot of questionable advice. Like, when deciding whether to keep a book, “Make sure you don’t start reading it. Reading clouds your judgment.” Say what? You shouldn’t decide which books to keep based on what’s in the books? She mentions that she herself only owns 30 books, which is just a bit north of the number I wound up including in our literary Advent calendar. Clearly, we are inhabiting different worlds.

    It is hardly unique to Kondo as a self-help expert to offer advice that fits her world, but doesn’t fit others (some readers here might say the same of me!) She lives alone. She doesn’t have kids. The idea of having one major storage place, because you want to make things easy to put back, rather than easy to get out, is fine when we’re talking about reference books. It’s another thing if we’re talking about, say, diapers, and you’re trying to change a soiled, screaming infant at 2 a.m. You want everything you need right by the kid. The putting away is less important than the getting out. Trust me.

    Then there were some truly strange moments of advice: “One of my clients cleared out a closet and shed that she had neglected for ten years. Immediately after, she had a strong bout of diarrhea after which she felt much lighter.” I think this is presented as a positive. Shed your stuff and you’ll lose weight! But we already have enough stomach bugs circulating around here. This does not inspire me to clean my closets. I’m hoping this is just bad translating.

    But here’s what really bothered me about this book: All of her examples of clients are women. When men appear (and they only do 2-3 times) it is as part of a couple. Kondo never says tidying is women’s work, but the implication is clear. She is far from the only person who believes this, and I’m sure she has this feeling from experience: women are the ones who seek her out.

    That’s why I kept having this thought while reading this book: For women, there is often life-changing magic in not tidying up.

    I don’t mean living in a disorganized mess. My house is reasonably organized. Kid shoes and coats always go photo-255in the mud room — not stacked in a neat line, but in there — and the 7-year-old’s homework is either on his homework table or in his backpack. I mean letting go of the idea that the domestic sphere is your responsibility alone, and that it is somehow a reflection on your identity. You can be a happy and successful person and still have a multitude of mismatched mugs in the cupboard. You can read a book even if the toys aren’t picked up and there are dishes in the sink. You can write a book with piles of stuff stacked up in your office (see photo), because you are so drawn to the material you are writing about that it would never occur to you to waste time you could be writing, or being with your family, or running, or volunteering, asking if you should stack stuff vertically or horizontally.

    I know this seems crazy, but your cupboards need not be a metaphor for life. But in Marie Kondo’s world, stuff is all about this metaphor. When the energy of our discarded objects is released, we are supposed to experience an awakening. It’s like the Japanese and clutter-oriented version of The Secret: energy you send out into the universe is returned to you as fortune, love, and good parking spots (Kondo doesn’t mention the parking spots thing, but you get my drift). “If you follow this advice, you will dramatically reduce the volume of things you own, experience an exhilaration you have never known before, and gain confidence in your life.”

    As she puts it, “your real life begins after putting your house in order.”

    I have no doubt her clients believe this. But why are all these clients women? Why are women clamoring to get on her 3-month waiting list in order to spend 6 months purging, so that their lives can finally begin then? Is it possible that men believe that your real life has little to do with the state of your silverware drawer? Is it possible that men think you can have a fulfilling career and relationships and either not pay the drawers much mind, or else find someone else to tend to them? If so, why do women have to put off real life by many months, paying tribute to the domestic gods before they’re allowed to pursue their dreams?

    I think these are important questions, and the answers are about patriarchy, not tidiness. Realizing this is life-changing, much more so than tidying up.

    In other news: One take-away from the “KonMari” method. I should totally brand my “method” of time makeovers. We could call it the “VandeLa” method. It seems so much more official that way.

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    We love our artwork,books,etc and have no intention of discarding them.

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  10. Marie Kondo has developed a cult following or sort of.Many of her clients throw out tons of stuff that they are actually using because they are blindly following her advice.I am not a fan of minimalism;in our house stuff and knick-knacks are adored;books are collected by the hundreds.But we are organized and we keep the house clean.
    I hope more people speak out against zen and excessive minimalism.I hate the zen folks condescending to others.If the zen folks went hungry from poverty,I would not have empathy for them.

  11. Canadians throw out too much.You are doing great work;please resume scavenging and write this blog.Your work is needed.Read this article from CBC.

    Canadians produce more garbage than anyone else

    Conference Board calls Canada an ‘environmental laggard’

    CBC News Posted: Jan 17, 2013 12:43 PM ET| Last Updated: Jan 17, 2013 7:52 PM ET

    Torontonians dumped their garbage in a local hockey rink and park during a garbage strike in 2009. A report out today suggests Canadians make more garbage per person than any other country.
    Torontonians dumped their garbage in a local hockey rink and park during a garbage strike in 2009. A report out today suggests Canadians make more garbage per person than any other country. (Mike Cassese/Reuters)


    Environmentally weak Canada?
    Environmentally weak Canada? 5:25

    Media placeholder







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    ■ Harvesting wealth from oilsands waste

    Canadians use far too much energy and water, and they produce more garbage per capita than any other country on earth, a report from an influential think-tank says.

    The Conference Board of Canada gave Canada a C grade on Thursday and ranked it in 15th place among 17 developed nations studied across a host of environmental-efficiency metrics.

    “Our large land mass, cold climate and resource-intensive economy make us less likely to rank highly on some indicators of environmental sustainability, but many of our poor results are based on our inefficient use of our resources,” said Len Coad, the board’s director of energy, environment and technology policy.

    Poor marks on garbage, water

    The Conference Board measured air pollution, garbage production, energy consumption, water usage and many other factors across 17 developed economies around the world.

    While Canada earned a few A grades in categories such as water quality, endangered species and the use of forest resources, overall the country scored a D average.

    The 15th-place ranking put Canada only ahead of the U.S. and Australia in the ranking.

    The board noted that those three countries have a few factors in common to help explain their comparatively dismal results: they have the largest land masses in the survey, and they have the most resource-dependent economies in the OECD.

    Canada fared dismally in terms of the amount of waste we produce. In 2009 (the data year on which the study was based), Canada produced 777 kilograms of garbage per citizen. Across all 17 countries studied, the average was only 578 kg produced.

    ‘Encouraging more sustainable consumption is crucial.’

    —Conference Board director Len Coad

    The numbers show that Canada produces more than twice as much garbage, per person, than Japan, the best country on the ranking in that category, which made only 377 kilograms per person that year.

    Canada also fared poorly in use of our vast water resources. On average Canadians use twice as much water as do the residents of the other developed economies on the list. Indeed, we use nine times more water than people in the best country on that metric do, Denmark.

    Canada’s vast water resources encourage wasteful use, the board suggests.

    “Excessive water withdrawals in Canada can be attributed to the lack of widespread water conservation practices and water pricing that does not promote efficiency,” the board said.

    The report found Canadians use 1,131 cubic metres per capita of water per year. The only country that uses more water is the United States, which consumes 1,632 cubic metres per capita.

    The board gives Canadians credit for some progress on the water issue in their day to day lives — Canadian people cut their water use from 335 litres per day in 2001 to 327 litres per day in 2006, but increased use from industries caused far more water to be consumed in the country overall.

    And overall, the quality of Canada’s water supply was above-average. Canada ranked fourth in that category with an A grade. Overall, however, the report doesn’t paint a pretty picture for a country that often prides itself on its vast natural resources.

    “Canada must promote economic growth without further degrading the environment,” Coad said. “Encouraging more sustainable consumption is crucial to achieve that objective.”

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  12. I am waiting for a post from you.It is good to be on hiatus for a while.See this ad about unwanted tires from Montreal Craigslist.Keep this telephone number in mind.

    TIRES cacher cette annonce
    © craigslist – Map data © OpenStreetMap

    (google map)

    TEXT OR CALL …514-743-4352 DANNY

  13. Read this wonderful article from The New York Times.

    At Repair Cafes, ‘Beloved but Broken’ Possessions Find New Life

    January 18, 2017

    If you’ve ever despaired of getting your vacuum cleaner fixed or thought that your broken lamp was a lost cause, there’s hope. A worldwide movement is trying to reform our throwaway approach to possessions.

    The movement’s foundation is the Repair Cafe, a local meeting place that brings together people with broken items and repair coaches, or volunteers, with the expertise to fix them.

    The cafes have taken root in 11 states, including New York, where they are most prevalent in the Hudson Valley: Eight exist and more are on the way. John Wackman of Kingston, N.Y., who organized the cafe in New Paltz, N.Y., in 2013 and coordinates the others in the Hudson Valley, said the region was home to “people who are sustainability-minded” and have a “strong ethos of community.”

    Organizers count as small victories any broken goods that can be repaired and kept out of the trash. In 2013, Americans generated about 254 million tons of garbage, including furniture, clothing and appliances, according to the United States Environmental Protection Agency.

    The Repair Cafe concept has its roots in Amsterdam, where Martine Postma, a former journalist, came up with the idea after the birth of her second child prompted her to think more about ways to reduce the waste going into landfills. Repair Cafe started in 2009 and spread across the Netherlands. Today, it has more than 1,100 sites in almost 30 countries.

    Helen Karsten with a stuffed animal in need of mending.

    John Wackman

    Clothes, books, dolls, stuffed animals, bicycles, appliances, chairs, jewelry, electronics — if they are broken, ripped or inoperable and you can carry it in, repair coaches will try to fix it. (But no gas engines, please.)

    “One of the things that makes it challenging and interesting is that we don’t know what people are going to bring,” Ray Pfau, an organizer of a Repair Cafe in Bolton, Mass., said in an email.


    Lamps top the list of items brought in to be repaired, followed by vacuum cleaners, Mr. Wackman said. The types of repairs offered vary by location and reflect the particular talent in a community, he said.

    New Paltz has a repair person with a national reputation as a doll expert. It also has a “Listening Corner” with a psychiatric nurse “because being listened to is a ‘reparative act,’ ” he said.

    The cafes invite people to bring their “beloved but broken” possessions to the gatherings, which are hosted in church basements, libraries, town halls and senior centers. The cafes make no guarantees that items will be fixed.

    “All we can guarantee is that you will have an interesting time,” Mr. Wackman said.

    The gatherings tend to draw professionals, retirees and hobbyists who volunteer as repair coaches.

    The New Paltz United Methodist Church in New Paltz, N.Y., hosting a Repair Cafe.

    “It’s a truism of human nature that people like to show off what they know,” Mr. Wackman said. “That said, there is a lot of gratification on both sides of the table.”

    The gatherings generally last about four hours. No preregistration is required, and those with broken items frequently travel from afar to attend. While there is no charge for the repairs, donations are accepted. The Repair Cafe Foundation provides groups with information to help get started, including lists of tools, tips for raising money and marketing materials.

    For Liz Pickett of New Paltz, the Repair Cafe is a chance to fight a consumer culture driven by buying new products instead of fixing old ones. “It opened my eyes to the fact that this stuff is built to fail,” she said.

    Products today are manufactured in a way that make their parts inaccessible, so that if they break, it’s just easier to buy a new one, she said.

    Ms. Pickett, a single mother of four — two boys, ages 17 and 14; and twin girls, 11 — said the cafe helped extend the life of headphones and a laptop for her children.

    “I would not be able to replace every single thing they break,” she said. “Are you kidding me?”

    Elizabeth Knight, a cafe organizer who lived in Hoboken, N.J., for more than 20 years, said she often found “great trash picking” there. When she moved to Warwick, about 60 miles northwest of New York City, she learned that the village hosted a spring cleanup during which residents discarded furnishings and other bulk items that did not get picked up with the ordinary trash.

    “I was stunned at what I saw,” she said, referring to the kinds of discarded materials that could gain a second life if repaired. She said the Repair Cafe “is all part of the jigsaw puzzle of what do we do with our stuff.”

    The gatherings engender a sense of camaraderie as volunteers learn the stories of the items they repair. On the Sunday after Thanksgiving, a woman went to a cafe in Warwick as it was winding down, Ms. Knight recalled. She had a silver cylinder on a necklace with a broken clasp.

    When Ms. Knight told her that repairs were finishing for the day, the woman began to cry. The cylinder held the ashes of her grandson, who died when he was 22. She had worn the necklace every day since.

    Suzanne O’Brien, a cafe volunteer, sat back down and worked on the necklace. The woman smiled through her tears when Ms. Knight hooked the repaired chain around her neck.

    “It’s not just about fixing things,” Ms. Knight said. “It’s about the community, also.”

  14. Are there any repair cafes in Montreal?That would be great;you should write about that on your blog.That is a great article for environment lovers.

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