Servire Populo pt.2


Part one

Honestly a lot of the stuff in this post is closer to being actual junk than quality junk, and I should probably avoid taking similar items in the future. Still, it can be fun to look at!

I like finding vintage food. Unfortunately, the market for a lot of it is slim to nonexistent. Not many people are looking to buy lemon extract from the 80s, but I’ll often take it anyways. It usually smells pretty good at least.


I was able to sell that vintage jello for a modest profit, but the Shake ‘n Bake and ice cube bags ended up in a yard sale free box (and most likely went to the trash). I kinda knew that would happen, but I saved them anyways.

This little Christmas tree was made from a collection of plastic coat hangers. It was cute, but had no commercial value. Someone did take it from my free box though.

These people were pretty crafty it seems. I sold this cool macrame wall hanging for 5$ at my last yard sale, and recently found another smaller one.

I also found this god’s eye, which I still have in my yard sale stuff.


This stuff is really kitschy, but it’s definitely not the kind of kitsch that’s “in” right now. Maybe in 10 or 20 years things will be different, but I’m not going to hold my breath on that one.


That cap gun was cool, and a couple of those large pencils were from Expo 67. Most of this stuff ended up in a free box, however.


Sorry these pictures didn’t turn out too well, I took them at my garage with my phone and the lighting wasn’t the best.


Of this lot I sold the collection of wall plaques, including the one from Percé rock.


I should have resisted that doll baby head thing. I guess there was a 10% chance that someone might have bought at a yard sale, but those kind of odds don’t warrant the benefit of the doubt considering I don’t have much storage space to begin with. I can say that about a lot of the stuff in this post though. I think I was feeling charitable at the time, and sometimes when I like a particular spot I’m more likely to take their junk.

Probably my favourite item from this bunch is this Frontier Town cuff bracelet. Frontier Town was a popular western-themed amusement park in rural New York from the early 50s to around the 80s. After that, the crowds dwindled and it closed in the late 90s. A lot of people have memories of the place and as a result Frontier Town ephemera does well enough on eBay. This bracelet looks to be solid aluminum and is probably worth around 20$. Surprisingly, I can’t find any other like it online.

This blog post perhaps helps you see the see one of my main struggles in garbage picking: the selection process. It’s easy to allow myself to take too much, either out of nostalgia or some kind of sympathy for inanimate objects. After all, if I don’t take something it’s probably going to end up crushed and in the dump, and that’s a sad mental picture. Still, it’s important to try to be objective, since no one can’t be a saviour of all trashed items, and this kind of stuff can quickly become a burden. I spent many hours this year purging after yard sales, and most of those items were things I shouldn’t have brought home in the first place.

The next post will feature more exciting stuff, I promise!

Relevant links

1. Facebook page
2. My eBay listings
3. Etsy store
4. Kijiji listings
5. Contribute to
6. Follow me on Instagram

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

35 thoughts on “Servire Populo pt.2”

    1. True, I could probably have sold it for more, perhaps in the 40-60$ range. Oh well, next time! I do have that second one I found still in storage.

  1. I’ve seen the vintage plastic manger on eBay quite often..also the cranberry red ‘cape cod? Avon glass..both items are collectible

    1. True. I did like that ruby red glass thing, it might still be in my yard sale stuff actually. The plastic manger was decent as well. Both are the kind of thing that’s worth selling online, but only in the US where shipping costs are a lot lower.

      1. How do you ship from Montreal, Martin? Do you know about Chit Chat’s Express? They have a location in Montreal now. Through them you can get access to USPS for a nominal fee. I use them for my Etsy shop from Toronto into the US.

          1. I use Canada Post. I heard about Chit Chat’s but their location is kind of far away and I don’t have the volume to make it worthwhile (ie: it’s about a 30 minute drive away, so it would take an extra hour of my time + gas which in my mind offsets any benefits). I heard they have a pickup service, but I doubt that would make sense either because I don’t mail enough packages. It would make sense if I mailed dozens of packages a week, but as it is I’m generally mailing between 2 and 7 and I don’t see that changing anytime soon. It would change everything if they opened an outlet closer to the city centre.

  2. As always I love reading your posts — and I LOVE that you mentioned your “sympathy for inanimate objects.” I used to have a really big problem with that, and I have never heard anyone say they knew about that feeling.

    1. I’m sure a lot of people are like that! I don’t have it as much as I used too (I guess seeing so much stuff desensitizes you to it) but I still succumb to it more often than I probably should.

  3. You should put up some hodge podge or junk drawer listings on ebay or etsy with those collections. Random assortments seem to sell, especially if they have vintage or quirky items in them. Just a thought.

    1. I might do that with smaller items that would fit in your hand. For the bigger stuff it’s not worth it, mostly due to the shipping costs.

  4. Another one here with “sympathy for inanimate objects.” There may end up being some superfluous items but on the whole I think it’s a good quality. All your great garbage finds are objects for which the people who discarded them did not have sympathy! 🙂

  5. Echoing Eight Mile Vintage here. The macrame hangings are a good find, as are some of the plant hangers. Search out “Vintage Macrame Wall Hanging” on Ebay, sold listings…some of the old ones from the 60’s-70’s are going for nice $$…depending on the size.

  6. Martha Nelson Thomas was the original creator of what became Cabbage Patch Dolls, very popular here in states. The fact that you have an original head and maybe you’re supposed to make a body? From her is worth something. The creator of Cabbage patch dolls stole her design outright and made millions.if anyone still collects them, the fact that it’s an original Martha Nelson Thomas is a good thing.

    1. Interesting, thanks for sharing. Funny you mention that after I singled out the head as something I shouldn’t have taken. I looked them up on eBay and found that they sell for around 5-15$ each (of course, it’s another one of those things that’s more profitable to sell if you’re in the US because of shipping costs). So, perhaps I was right to take it. Hopefully someone took it from my free box.

  7. I wonder if you are aware of what one item is. In the picture with the cap gun is a little yellow bird whistle. The neat thing, if it is what it looks like, is that you fill it with water and it gives a burbly sound more like a birdsong. when i was a kid in the ‘/450’s it was one of my favourite toys.

    1. Thanks for sharing, I didn’t know that. This is part of the reason I like to share pictures of “junk,” because some of these things bring up old memories. That bird might be in my yard sale stuff still, though it may have also sold.

  8. I totally get the sympathy for inanimate objects. It also makes me sad to see some of those “useless” things lost forever to the land fill. Did you see the Ikea commercial a few years ago where you were meant to feel sad for the lamp? That’s totally me.

  9. I live in Sarnia,Ontario and have cousins living in Montreal.I read your blog and am stunned to find out how wasteful we are.I have lived in the same house for 35 years and have lots of porcelain,books,paintings and knick-knacks.I have an adult son and daughter and they were raised to value antiques ,books and arts.They have promised to keep most of the artsy stuff and books after I am gone,and have even asked me to hang on to it.Hence I am not so worried.Anybody who is older and has a lot of stuff but no children or close family members must make a will and choose a sensible executor so their belongings end up where the person wants them to go.Montreal seems to be more throwaway than Sarnia.

    1. I expect this is a problem everywhere in the western world. Keep in mind that I make Montreal look bad because I’m pretty good at locating and showcasing our screwups, ha ha. It’s good that your kids appreciate these things. I think some kids don’t appreciate them as much, so they end up on the curb.

  10. Hi Martin,I took out a Batman comic book f from 1976 rom the trash bin earlier this month.I plan on keeping it,but am curious if it has financial value.

    1. Cool find. 1976 is considered the “bronze age” of comic, and stuff in that era tends to have a little value. It could be worth 5-20$, but of course condition is very important and if it’s not great it’s probably worth closer to a dollar.

  11. Martin,this is a heart-breaking story.Please help this sorry woman and make $5000.

    Syracuse family offers $5,000 reward for USB key stolen in Montreal last weekend

    4:35 PM

    A family from Syracuse, N.Y. says five years’ worth of work on a Ph.D. was lost when their car was broken into in downtown Montreal on Saturday.

    Melisa Kohan was in town for Thanksgiving weekend with her husband, a doctoral student at Syracuse University, visiting her 90-year-old great aunt. The family had packed the car for their trip home on Saturday morning, near the corner of Sherbrooke and Drummond Sts., and had gone back to spend a and gone back up to her aunt’s apartment to spend a couple more hours with her.

    That’s when the unthinkable happened.

    “We came back down, our car window was smashed in,” Melisa Kohan told CJAD 800, “and the items in the car had been taken.”

    Among the items stolen was a backpack containing a USB key, which held five years’ worth of research for her husband’s PhD, as well as a draft of his doctoral dissertation.

    “Every ounce of him has been put into this work, and it was taken,” she says. “There was a copy [of the USB key] on the computer which was in the backpack that was taken. There were backup USB ports, and those happened to be in the backpack that was taken.”

    Kohan says she called police. When they arrived, they told her they had been dealing with several similar break-ins in recent days in the area.

    Kohan’s husband was preparing to finalize his Ph.D., and now, she says, all of that is up in the air.

    “He’s really beside himself right now,” she says. “The professors are heartbroken, too, because they’ve been invested in this research.”

    The family is offering a $5,000 reward for return of the key and the information — no questions asked.

    “The backpack is the brand Cotopaxi, it is dark gray with a yellow logo on it,” she says, “and the USB ports were in a small cloth pouch with penguins on it, and it was a light blue background.”

    If you have any information on where the key is, you can contact Melisa at

    1. That sucks. Anytime there’s a robbery I tell people to check the alleys and other quiet areas nearby. I figure a lot of the time the robber will run off with the bag, and then ditch the stuff they don’t want once they think the coast is clear. Not sure if that works, but it’s an option.

  12. There is a market for vintage cake toppers, especially if marked. I keep items like this a drawer until I have a mini collection. People don’t usually want to pay postage for one. This also works well for other vintage items like depression era red or green handled kitchen utensils

  13. Martin,you are likely to experience resistance while scavenging in The Town of Mount Royal
    because the area has been hit by many car break-ins and home burglaries.Residents are very suspicious.So continue scavenging there but be very vigilant.Please read this article from The Gazette of this week.

    Rash of break-ins has T.M.R. on alert

    The Town of Mount Royal says it has taken steps to reduce burglaries in the town.

    Katherine Wilton, Montreal Gazette Katherine Wilton, Montreal Gazette
    More from Katherine Wilton, Montreal Gazette

    Published on: November 29, 2017 | Last Updated: November 29, 2017 5:53 PM EST

    The Town of Mount Royal has sent a letter to residents this week saying it has taken steps to reduce break-ins after a rash of burglaries during the past few months unsettled residents.

    Brazen thieves have been stealing jewelry and other items from the master bedrooms of homes, even while security alarms are sounding.

    An increase in the number of break-ins means that 911 operators now treat any report of a theft or alarm in T.M.R. “as an emergency and priority,” the town says in the letter.

    In September, the town adopted a bylaw requiring resellers and jewelry stores in the town to keep a register of all items purchased, including the name, address and a physical description of individuals who approach them to sell jewelry and other goods. The register must be updated and sent to the Montreal police daily.

    It has also beefed up its public security staff, has unmarked police cars patrolling the neighbourhood and has asked gardeners and landscapers to be on the lookout for suspicious behaviour.

    “We want people to know that we are taking this seriously,” said Alain Côté, a spokesperson for the town.

    Two pamphlets containing tips on how to keep homes and cars safe have been included in the package sent to residents.

    The town is also reminding residents that the public security department can check on homes if residents are out of town.

    A T.M.R. resident whose home was burgled in July said thieves broke into her house while her gardener was mowing the front lawn.

    The woman said she had stepped out for an hour and when she drove into her garage, her security alarm was ringing. When she entered the house and disarmed the alarm system, she heard the thieves running around upstairs.

    She fled in her car, drove down the street and called 911. While she was on the phone, she saw the two thieves, a male and a female, stroll nonchalantly out her front door.

    “They were wearing heavy coats with hoods,” said the woman, who didn’t want her name published.

    A 911 operator told the woman not to follow the suspects, she said.

    The thieves had used a crowbar to remove window panes at the rear of her house.

    In some cases, thieves have been ringing doorbells to see if anyone is home. If someone answers, they say they’re looking for a cat. If no one is home, they often break in, race up to the master bedroom and flee before police have had a chance to respond, the woman said.

    “They take everything they can fit into their pockets,” she said.

    In the letter sent to residents, the town says arrests by the Montreal police “have helped bring about a significant drop in the number of home burglaries.”

    “At this stage, the number of thefts from homes and vehicles appears to be declining,” the letter says.

    The town is recommending that jewelry and other valuable items be stored in a secure part of the house and not in the master bedroom. It also suggests equipping homes with an alarm system that has an outdoor siren.

    Montreal police didn’t return a phone call from the Montreal Gazette.

    1. Thanks for the link, I hadn’t heard that. I can understand how the residents might be skeptical of scavengers, especially at night. That’s why I prefer to do my runs there in the morning now, because I figure I’m less intimidating in the light of day. I have gone there at night again recently, but I’ll probably stop that now that this news is coming out. Hopefully they catch the people involved.

  14. I don’t suppose you happen to still have that pink plastic shell-shaped soap dish? My grandmother had several like that and I have been looking for one for literally years.

    1. I’m not sure. It went through a couple of yard sales, so it might have sold, or it might still be in my yard sale stuff. It’s unlikely I’ll get to digging through there before the spring, so maybe just come to my next yard sale in the spring!

      1. I would come if I could, but I live in Madison, Wisconsin so I think I’m unlikely to make it. 🙂 If you do come across it and would be willing to ship let me know.

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