Yard sale / new expressions

Saturday is supposed to be 16 degrees, sunny and not at all windy. That means it’s time for another yard sale! The weather hasn’t been cooperative in the month since my last one and I’m really looking forward to unloading some stuff. I have way too much right now, both from the winter and from a productive spring cleaning season, and at a certain point the excessive volume reduces my enjoyment of trash picking. Junk starts to clutter up my life, I have nowhere to put things, and I feel more like a hoarder than a seller. But yard sales always remind me that people actually want the stuff I collect, and that it oftentimes brings a little joy into their life as well.

A friend of mine convinced me to do the sale at his place, so the location will be at 5031 St Urbain (near St Joseph) in Montreal. It’s not far from my two usual yard sale spots, so it shouldn’t be hard to find. We’ll probably start around noon, and end around 6PM. Please email me if you have any questions!

One of my recent finds will come in pretty handy. I now have a legit folding table, so I’ll be able to get a bit more of my junk off the ground!

I also found this neat c.1980s Expos fanny pack that’ll be useful for holding money.

Otherwise, as you may know I’ve recently started going out in the mornings instead of at night. That means I end up meeting a lot more of the people who’s trash I’m picking. Sometimes it works out okay, but other times people ask me (in varying degrees of politeness) to leave their trash alone.

For instance, I started looking through the trash at this pile. Found a few neat things. Then a kid, probably somewhere between 17-20, comes out and asks me what I’m doing, and tells me not to look through his trash. “It’s only papers.” At least he was reasonably nice about it, offering me the little stereo system in the box on the right.

Still, there were some nice things in his trash that definitely weren’t papers (unfortunately, I was only able to look inside two bags). I found some nice silver cufflinks, a legit-looking pair of Persol sunglasses, some electronic doodad and an old cell phone to add to my collection. If I were feeling more energetic I’d have chastised him about throwing out a cell phone; he was kind of nice but still power tripping a bit.

However, he was Mr Rogers compared to the lady I met later on, who almost looked like she wanted to fight. She rushed towards me from her house, complaining about trash pickers (not me I guess, as it was my first time stopping!) going through her stuff all the time and I guess causing a mess. She wasn’t polite to say the least.

Unfortunately I didn’t have time to look through any of the bags, which almost certainly held good stuff, but I did take this “street surfboard” that was sitting on top of the pile. I told her she should have donated it to charity, and she whined that she was too busy moving and dealing with all the stuff. Boohoo, I say. What’s so hard? Throw it in a box and bring it to the store literally 1km away. Some places will even come pick up donations. Anyways, there’s not much to do except move on and not take it too personally.

I think we need to come up with a term to describe people who ask scavengers not to go through their trash, especially the people who are actually throwing out great stuff. My first thought was to play off “Nimby” (Not in my back yard), but thinking of new expressions is not really my forte. If you have any ideas us know in the comments!

Despite the [insert new expression here] I have a lot of good finds to share with you, but most will have to wait for another post. I’ve been lucky finding postage stamps recently – that find saved me 6$! I also appreciated the savings bank, even if it contained only pennies.

The place that brought us those photos from my last post threw out some more photographic stuff this week, most notably this box full of old postcards. Many date back to the early 1900s. I’d say they’re older on average than the postcards from the collection I found around this time last year. However, I enjoyed finding that collection a bit more because it was much more Canadian. These look to have been collected while traveling across Europe. The way this collection is organized is cool, I’ve never seen a box quite like this one for one!

I don’t have time to photograph them all, but here’s a selection of postcards from the London section. The King George V and Queen Mary RPPCs are pretty cool. Those would date from somewhere between 1910 and 1936, I’d guess on the earlier side of that. Note the “Sept 19 / 04” written on the postcard at top right.

These ones are all from the Rome section. My favourite so far is the Benito Mussolini at top left.

I think I’ll put these in storage for now, and then list them on eBay in the fall or winter. I think that I should be able to make a couple hundred dollars from this collection, maybe more.

Anyways, that’s all for now. Hope some of you can make it to the sale!

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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40 thoughts on “Yard sale / new expressions

  1. Lynn says:

    When harassed, I would say that you are looking for vintage items and things you can recycle, you promise to be neat and tidy and will re-tie any bags that you open AND, most importantly, that you are doing a valuable public service by keeping things out of the landfill, thereby helping to keep their taxes low. Plus, once the trash is at the curb, they have effectively abandoned it and it is no longer theirs.

  2. People can be very possessive, it seems, even of the stuff they don’t want. This is where a business card might be useful … to show these people you’re a business.
    Perfect fanny pack for you! 🙂 Yay Expos!
    I hope I get the opportunity to look through those postcards when I visit next.
    Hope your yard sale is a big success!

  3. Nancy says:

    I was thinking business card too.. Makes you look like more than the average picker who leaves the place messy. Plus they can be shared or used if they have something else to get rid of at a later date. My neighbour didn’t like anyone picking up her trash but she’s a bit of a hoarder so it takes forever for her to put stuff by the curb and when she sees someone interested in it She thinks she is throwing out something very valuable, lol.

  4. Lilah says:

    I wonder if there is a concern that you might be looking for things to steel their identity. It would be sad that that would stop your scavenging but that is how it can happen.

    • martng says:

      I’m sure it’s a concern for some people, although I think it’s not really very common. There are probably better ways to steal identities, and I’ve never personally seen anyone digging in trash that looked “sketchy” in that way.

  5. Teresa says:

    Yes, a card with a clever/cute name is a good idea. People are afraid of identity theft and of a mess left behind. Also, if you hand out cards, people might call you to come get stuff.

  6. Joane says:

    Sorry you had to experience rudeness.

    Nice that you now have a yard-sale table. My knees thank you! 😃

  7. Natasha says:

    Loving the old London postcards, I’d be up for buying those. Post to London’s not too much right? (PS assisted to your work and posts would so much love to find someone who does that here)

  8. vonlipi says:

    If people throw stuff it doesn’t belong to them! When I put stuff near the giving tree I am so happy when it gets picked up! And so disappointed when nobody wants it and it goes to the trash….

  9. Boris says:

    Why don”t you take some garbage bags and put them in your car and sort them later in instances when people object to your scavenging?You cannot take all the bags but you can take two or three bags from certain places to your car and chuck the stuff you do not want later

  10. Looks like someone really cared for that post card collection since it is so nicely organized. Shame someone else thought it was trash 😦 I’d call the raving lunatics GOOMS because they are always yelling “Get Out Of My Stuff!” Also, I’m not sure if you are aware, but recycling cellphones and sme electronics helps save gorilla habitats. Something you could also mentions to Gooms throwing out electronics:
    http://www.americancellphonedrive.org/article-gorilla-habitat.cfm

  11. DebraS says:

    My uncle and I have been picking together for about 10 years. To avoid any potential trouble we always try to leave the piles neater than the way we find them and have come to realize that 99 out of 100 people are happy to see their stuff taken by someone who wants it rather than have it end up in a landfill or incinerator. Most folks will even chat it up with us, and some are genuinely amused by what we’re doing. As to the one in 100 who ends up being unpleasant (we refer to them as “cranks”) we will still be polite, stop looking at their precious stuff and just move on to the next pile. Some people are just miserable human beings and we don’t let them interfere with our treasure hunting high. BTW – love your blog! Stay safe out there!

    • martng says:

      Yup, I’d say that most people who see me are fine with it, though people in richer neighbourhoods are more likely to be angry about it. I always make sure not to make a mess as that’s a good way to make someone angry who wouldn’t have minded otherwise.

      Honestly, I think it would benefit me to have female accompaniment particularly in the rich neighbourhoods, I’ve definitely noticed improved public relations results in the instances when I did have it – people tend to be more sympathetic and less creeped out I think. But it’s hard to find someone willing to get up at 7am for little financial benefit, lol.

      Glad you like the blog!

      • DebraS says:

        Hope you find that special someone to accompany you – I’m sure she’s out there! It can be a blast having someone to critique the piles with you and share in the fun. I’m glad I have my uncle because my husband has no interest in curb-shopping (although I do notice he likes and appreciates everything I find just for him!). Continuous good luck to you in your travels – and stay safe.

        • martng says:

          Lol, yes not everyone has interest, and even if they do they might have a “real job” and not have the time, haha.

  12. Jennifer says:

    Great stuff once again Martin! I have 2 pickup trucks and just stop outside pretending to check my car,when no one is about,I take everything and sort it out in my yard.The rubbish is put in collection and the treasures find a new home.Best finds have been in skips at night,a pick up truck is great to throw stuff in. Best wishes and as written, some people are just plain cranks.

  13. Emilio says:

    In which neighborhood did you encounter such resistance?I am a call centre employee and I scavenged the trash recently on my off-day in the Plateau near metro Laurier by foot for three hours.Nobody objected.I also have scavenged in NDG and Cote St.Paul(near metro Jolicoeur) twice in the mornings.Noone protested.I found some great toy cars,paintings,laptop bags and some 20-cent big beer cans.Do you encounter resistance in the neighborhoods I just mentioned?

    • martng says:

      I rarely have a problem in the Plateau or other areas with blue-collar roots, the people living there are used to their trash being a very “public” thing. Most resistance comes from richer neighbourhoods where people aren’t as used to it, like in TMR, Westmount, Hampstead, Montreal West, and so on.

  14. paul says:

    Always a great read. It feels good to know that I’m not alone in feeling the overwhelmingness of spring cleaning. It gets absurd the amount that I collect, recently got a storage locker to keep my life and “business” separate but they collide very often.

    • martng says:

      I think item management is the most stressful part of the business. There’s just always new stuff coming in that has to be dealt with. Like the mail, garbage never stops.

  15. Debi says:

    Those Persol sunglasses are cool!
    The little red bank is interesting, divided into “hers” and “his”. I noticed which side is the fullest! Lol.
    I hope your garage sale goes fabulously!
    -D.

  16. Quinn Franke says:

    I think people are ashamed of the good stuff they throw out… In my building some of the best stuff is thrown out late at night or at times when no one is around.
    As well, people can be mad when shown value for something they didn’t value.
    Put the two together and you have some strange behaviour.

    • martng says:

      The second one is definitely true. It’s kind of like the taking the toy away from the baby who isn’t playing with it thing, they don’t want it until someone else does. That’s why I always minimize the value of my finds when I do talk to people, usually referring to it as “yard sale junk” instead of something I can sell for X dollars, etc.

  17. Chanelle Ambrose says:

    I know we are all harping on you to get business cards but it will add a layer of respectability that help resolve some of the repeated issues you encounter. I’d like to also suggest you add a safety vest. Those bright orange vests you see on construction sites etc. I’d stencil “recycler” and the name of your company on the back. This way you are a “respectable business” not some random guy from the street. I’d have some snappy patter if you get confronted about the landfills, gorillas and lower taxes. I’d tell them that “we always leave it neater than we find it” is one of your company mottos. I’d also use “we” and “team” a lot so they feel they aren’t being targeted by an individual and more like contributing to the world by releasing their usable garbage to you. The more you seem like part of an organization rather than an individual will add a layer of comfort. I’m guessing lots of people are more worried about a random man hanging around their house than the actual garbage. The idea is to change that perception to one that they are being part of an environmental team.

  18. Anonymous says:

    Hi Martin,hope your garage sale on Saturday went really well.I live in Ahuntsic and walking around in my neighborhood on Thursday after midnight for exercise.Friday morning is garbage pickup day in Central Ahuntsic.Only some households had put their garbage out overnight and I found nothing except a few aluminum cans in the 10 or 15 trash bins that I looked.Then as I was just about to head home,I decided to walk south on Tohurst street from Fleury.On Tolhurst street just a block below Fleury outside a townhouse,I found two cardboard boxes on the curb and an empty beer carton covered with a garbage bag.I decided to take a look inside the boxes.There was more than a 100$ worth of unused food within those two boxes.An unopened bottle of Heinz Ketchup,Two big unopened bottles of President’s Choice Salsa,four or five cans of tomato pasta sauce,an unopened plastic bottle of canola oil,cans of artichokes,fifteen to 20 bottles of gourmet spices,cans of sardines and salmon,etc.I ended up taking home $50 worth of good food in three reusable shopping bags.I hope somebody else recouped the remaining 50%.
    Please visit central Ahuntsic,especially Tolhurst,Prieur,Fleury,Tanguay,Vervile and Meilleur on garbage pick up days.On these streets as well as Gouin you could make a lot of good finds.There are can collectors in Ahuntsic,but competition for other kinds of scavenging is lesser than in the Plateau,Mile End and Rosemont.(Mind you Ahuntsic still has more scavengers like you than Town Of Mount Royal).But why would someone throw out so much good food?There was no other garbage put out at that spot and there was no ‘FOR SALE’ sign there.I am glad to have rescued very good food which I am already eating and to contribute to lightening the landfills.
    Remember streets like Tolhurst in Ahuntsic.

  19. Wilson says:

    I am surprised you say you feel like a hoarder before holding a sale.I used to live in the Plateau with roommates when I was a McGill student.I used to waiter in the summer.One of my roommates constantly stole my food and accused me of ‘hoarding’ soup cans,lentil cans,etc.He used to steal my eggs,orange juice,bread,milk and anything else in the fridge.I saved up on lentil cans in my room because I do not like to do groceries every three days.I think people are told they are hoarding unnecessarily in most cases.My grandfather grew up after during the Great Depression and hoarded food for his adult life because he went partially hungry as a child.Hoarding does have a positive purpose;I admire collectors of art,books etc too.Do not feel gulty about holding on to useful things.

    • martng says:

      Mostly it’s just that I don’t actually like having that much stuff. It’s hard to keep it organized, and it usually ends up stressing me out when it inevitably gets a bit chaotic. It’d be less of a hassle if I had more space, but I don’t have enough money to spend on a larger space (ie: like a full garage nearby) right now.

  20. Norman Hector says:

    Sometimes buying things online engenders nasty surprises.I know you are an honest scavenger who works hard but I prefer to buy many things sight seen.I would rather buy from you in a garage sale than from you via ebay.I buy online only certain items.Please read this informative article.

    Eyeglass Vendor, Imprisoned for Terrorizing Consumers, Is Accused of Fraud

    By DAVID SEGAL

    May 25, 2017

    Vitaly Borker served a three-and-a-half-year stint in prison for threatening to stalk, maim and murder customers of his online eyeglass store, DecorMyEyes. But the court-ordered timeout, it seems, did little to convince him to take a new approach to sales.

    Federal prosecutors in the Southern District of New York announced on Thursday that Mr. Borker had been arrested and charged with wire and mail fraud while running OpticsFast.com, an eyewear site that authorities said hassled consumers mercilessly.

    “Borker’s shameless brand of alleged abuse cannot be tolerated,” Joon H. Kim, the acting United States attorney for the Southern District of New York, said in a news release, “and we are committed to protecting consumers from becoming victims of such criminal behavior.

    Mr. Borker’s lawyer, Dominic F. Amorosa, said in an email that his client would “plead not guilty and defend himself against the charges.” Both charges carry a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison.

    OpticsFast customers told Postal Service inspectors that rather than the luxury brands advertised on the site, they were sold cheap knockoffs, and then badgered and bullied when they asked for refunds. One buyer, a woman in California identified in a criminal complaint as Victim-1, said that someone had called her 35 times a day after she complained online about a fake and damaged pair of Ray-Bans she bought from the site.

    She was called a “total degenerate” and “stupid, stupid lady” in emails, according to the complaint. She later received a call from a man who identified himself as a police officer and said that OpticsFast had filed a “civil harassment suit” against her.

    Another customer, identified in the complaint as Victim-8, clicked on an OpticsFast link that generated a shipping label to mail in glasses for repair. When he decided against using the label and refused to pay for it, OpticsFast sent him hundreds of emails, including 456 in a single day. Hundreds of them had “I WIN!!!” in the subject line.

    Mr. Borker appears to have toned down his previous approach, according to the complaint. None of the victims identified by the government, nor any of the dozens of OpticsFast customers who posted complaints on Yelp, mentioned physical threats.

    A call to OpticsFast in March, as complaints on Yelp piled up, was answered by a woman who said she had never heard of Vitaly Borker. Asked where the company was based, she snapped “That’s none of your business.”

    Efforts to reach Mr. Borker at the time were unsuccessful, although he was not keeping a particularly low profile. Earlier in the year, he posted a GoFundMe plea for $1,000 to buy long skis for an April trip to Utah. His short skis, he said, would not suffice in deep-powder snow.

    “Clearly, I don’t want to pay for this upgrade,” he wrote, in what by his standards qualified as a charm offensive. “Please give me money.”

    The government’s complaint also states that Mr. Borker recently posted a photo collage on his Facebook page showing him atop an enormous pile of eyeglasses. Next to the photos was what sounded like a job posting.

    “I am looking for a responsible fast paced person who can assist me at my Brighton Beach office doing various projects for my eye wear e-Commerce business,” he wrote. “Project one will be to help me sort this mess.”

    Mr. Borker, a 41-year-old immigrant from Ukraine, stands about 6 feet 5 inches tall. In 2010, when he was terrifying customers of DecorMyEye, which was based in Brooklyn, there was a method to his noxious technique: He believed that Google’s search algorithm could not distinguish between positive and negative feedback. The more people griped about his company, his theory went, the more prominently his site appeared in Google search results.

    “I’ve exploited this opportunity because it works,” he told a reporter for The New York Times who visited his home in the Sheepshead Bay section of Brooklyn. “No matter where they post their negative comments, it helps my return on investment. So I decided, why not use that negativity to my advantage?”

    In essence, Mr. Borker believed that the internet allowed him to turn upside down long-cherished verities of commerce, most notably that treating customers well enhances one’s bottom line. Using aliases such as Stanley Bolds and Tony Russo, he threatened to chop off the legs of one customer. He threatened to rape another. He wrote a letter to the office of yet another in which he said the customer was gay and sold drugs.

    A week after postal inspectors learned about Mr. Borker’s methods through an article in The Times, he was arrested. Soon, Google said in a blog post that it was “horrified” by his conduct and had already tweaked its algorithm so that “being bad to your customers is bad for business.”

    At his sentencing, in 2012, Mr. Borker told Judge Richard J. Sullivan of Federal District Court in Manhattan, “As I stand before you today, I am genuinely and deeply sorry for the threats that I made. To say that I am ashamed of myself is an understatement.”

    But the sense of remorse may have been short lived. There were complaints about OpticsFast while Mr. Borker was still imprisoned. The volume of online groans only seemed to increase when he was freed.

    One Yelp commenter from St. Louis recently summed up her experience this way: “If you want to wait 34 days for a repair, be charged almost twice the estimated price for repair, be charged 2-3 times the price of return shipping, and receive your product back in a dirty and less than satisfactory condition then please by all means, use OpticsFast.com.”

    • martng says:

      Those guys sound like total nuts. There are some bad apples out there, but most online salespeople do good work. Plus, if you buy through a site like eBay there are actually very good buyer protection plans in place – if you want a refund, you can most often get one.

  21. Donna says:

    Hi,Martin,love your blog.I was walking on Breslay street in Westmount just behind Atwater a few days ago.I saw three FOR SALE signs next to houses on that street and a few more nearby.Maybe you could find great stuff there.I found beautiful photo frames in a black trash bag on Breslay recently and repurposed them.Do you find great stuff on Ramezay,Trafalgar,Cedar,McDougall,The Boulevard and Mount Pleasant streets in Westmount?

    • martng says:

      There’s a good chance there could be some good garbage there at some point, but who knows when exactly. I don’t remember most of those streets, but I do remember finding some great stuff on The Boulevard a couple years back.

  22. Robin.A says:

    You seem to have lived with roommates for a long time.Did you have some rough roommates or roommates who regularly stole your food?Interested in hearing about unpleasant roommate anecdotes from you.Did you have a roommate who looked down on your scavenging?Curious here.I am 25.

    • martng says:

      I’ve been pretty lucky in that I’ve almost always lived with friends, or with friends of friends who then became friends. I remember one bad experience with a CL roommate, but it was nothing like some of the stories I’ve heard.

      Sometimes I wonder what it’d be like to live alone, but for now it’s cheaper to split the bills and all that. Plus, I think I’d get lonely living on my own.

  23. Jason says:

    Hello. My name is Jason Beard. I am owner of Vintage Artificial Christmas Trees on facebook. I saw the post about the artificial scotch pine you posted about. It is very rare to find older trees with the boxes with them still. That is the original tree. Late 1960’s 70’s era tree. For more info please contact me. The link to my page is below! Thanks! Jason

    Link: https://www.facebook.com/vintageartificialchristmastrees/

    • martng says:

      Cool, glad it’s original! I’ll probably list it on Kijiji come the Christmas season, maybe I can get 100$ for it.

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