Bits & Bugs

I did a little exploring on Thursday night. First I went to the Bois-Franc sector of Ville St Laurent for their heavy garbage day – I hadn’t visited the area in quite some time. I found some decent stuff, like this collection of lightly used shoes, a storage bin, a filing cabinet, and an unused candle, but it’s not the most exciting neighbourhood overall. The area was developed in the 90s so there isn’t much vintage stuff kicking around. Still, people there have money and I’m sure they toss out good stuff on the regular.

After that I went to St Leonard for the first time. I didn’t find anything but I’ll probably head back at some point. The buildings there are a little older (most were built between the mid 60s to mid 70s) but the population is generally less wealthy than in Bois-Franc. Check out this map to see the median income of Montreal’s different neighbourhoods.

I found some cool old stuff at this spot not long ago. I was hoping that it would produce more over time, but I noticed an ad for an estate sale at the same address soon after. From my experience most of the cool garbage is thrown out in the weeks or months before (not after) the sale, which means that I might have missed out on some sweet junk. So it goes. I ended up going to the sale with a few friends; the inside of the house looked as if it hadn’t been renovated since the 60s.

I expect that this kind of junk is regularly thrown out by estate liquidators. Perhaps they don’t know about certain niche markets, or maybe they just want to bring order to the often voluminous contents of a house. Either way, it often results in a bit of profit for me! If only I could know where the sales are going to be beforehand.

For instance, that old ring box is probably worth around 10-20$. The little green holder on the top left is probably about the same. The Aspirin bottle, which comes in its original box and is still full of pills is probably worth around 20-30$. Believe it or not there’s a market for vintage credit cards, and the American Express card that expired in 1976 is probably worth around 20-30$. The Lux toilet soap, which was probably made in the 40s or 50s, is worth around 5-10$.

The most valuable thing here is probably the Waterman pen. It’s missing the cap, but has a 14k gold nib and is in nice condition otherwise. I expect it to sell for around 40-60$. The Parker ballpoint pen and Royal Bank desk pen are also cool finds.

Paper ephemera is especially likely to be tossed by liquidators if the family has no interest in keeping it. I found several old photos here, my favourite of which is above. I also enjoyed finding that old advertisement / flyer for the Stoeckmann & Lanzer renovation company. Based on the letters in the phone number I’d guess it was made sometime between the 1930s and early 1960s.

I also saved two vintage card decks, some interesting old ID cards, an old wallet …

… a 1960s McGill student directory;

… a Knights of Pythias “diploma” from 1937;

… and a bag full of cool vintage glasses. None of them are brand name, but they’re pretty fun regardless.

I also brought home a few big bags of vintage clothes and accessories. I haven’t had time to look them over much, but I’m hoping some are worth keeping. If any of it is particularly noteworthy I’ll be sure to share it here!

Otherwise, now is a good time to share a couple of unreported tales from the summer. I went on a garbage run to one of the rich neighbourhoods with a couple of friends back in June or July. We stopped at a big pile of trash, as I have a wont to do. The house that purged it had recently sold and a big moving truck was being filled with its junk. The garbage wasn’t at all interesting but my friend wanted to take some slides off a set of drawers. I got bored waiting for this to happen so to pass the time I took a closer look at the discards. That’s when I noticed that one of the mattresses there was quite clearly infested with bedbugs.

My friend obviously lost interest in the drawer slides after this discovery. However, we also considered the movers who didn’t seem to be aware of the infestation. After thinking it over briefly we decided to talk to them, and indeed they had no idea that the house was infested. I showed them the bug on the mattress and their faces went white – one of them said he had planned on using the truck for his own move later that day.

I’m not sure how that all panned out. I used to work as a mover though, and if I were to guess I’d say that the workers probably called their boss, who would have told them to get the stuff out of the truck and back in the house ASAP. The boss might have even come to personally deal with the situation, and maybe try to charge the homeowner for the cost of PCO. I know my old boss would not have been pleased to find out that his truck was loaded full of buggy crap.

Anyways, I’m glad I was able to save multiple people from infestations and bug-related stress. I don’t see bedbugs in rich neighbourhoods very often, so this experience was a good reminder that bugs aren’t only a problem for lower income folks. I usually inspect all the furniture I take regardless of what neighbourhood I find it in, but I’m more likely to give rich people’s stuff the benefit of the doubt.

The day wasn’t over yet though. While dealing with the bug situation I noticed that one of the neighbours had thrown away a grocery bag filled with square objects that turned out to be records. After I put them in the car an older lady, probably in her 80s called down from her balcony and asked us if we wanted any books. I said sure, and she ended us giving us some stereo equipment as well, including a nice cassette player, a couple of speakers, and this Marantz receiver. It’s not one of the really valuable ones, but it’s still a quality machine – my roommate is currently using it in his room. She seemed happy to get rid of her old stuff, and we were happy to meet someone nice on the garbage circuit. I gave her my number in case she needed help bringing anything else down to the curb, but she never got in touch.

Here’s a couple of random finds from the spring. The WWII-era ration token was cool if not particularly valuable. The brooch was missing its pin, other than that it was quite nice.

I’ve been picking up furniture more often this year but a lot of my favourite pieces haven’t yet made the blog. I found this set of drawers in Westmount sometime in mid-summer. I’ll bet they’re around 100 years old, and the wear to the paint gives it a sort of unintentional “shabby-chic” look. I hope to get 100$ for it.

A friend and I found this wardrobe while out on a run in TMR. It weighs a tonne, probably around 100 pounds. It must be some kind of hardwood. It didn’t fit in the car so we actually paid a Craigslist mover 50$ to bring it to my garage. It might be a good idea to reshoot the photos – the piece is probably worth about 300$ but the pictures, including the ones below don’t do it justice.

I picked up this secretary desk in Westmount. It has some wear and tear but is still nice, and the fold-out section is pretty cool. It’s probably worth around 50$, and would make a nice project.

I saved this nice old dresser just a few weeks ago. It’s in pretty solid condition and has that cool “wavy” design. How much do you think I should try to sell it for?

I’d like to move some of this big stuff, so if you have any interest please send me a message!

If you’re into 70s music you might like this little filing cabinet! The thing was just covered in old band and concert stickers. It ended up going to a local archivist who appreciated that some of the bands were local. If this brings back any old memories let us know in the comments! Remember that you can click on the photos for a closer look.

Let’s finish with a potential opportunity. My garage landlord recently let me know that one of his other garages will soon be available for rent. This one would be 400$ a month instead of 200$, but it’s about three times bigger in terms of usable indoor space, and that’s not including the extra vertical space. Having the extra room would allow me to save more stuff, stay better organized, and have better yard sales, but the extra financial burden is also worth considering.

Renting the larger garage would cost me about 2400$ extra per year, assuming my friend remains willing to rent a portion of the space for 100$ a month. So, for it to be worthwhile I’d at least want the extra storage to pay for itself, since I’m not rich and still have a lot of debt to pay off, teeth to fix, and so on.

However, it might be worth the risk. Having that much room could revolutionize the way I sell garbage, and maybe even the way I collect it. Plus, I’m making more money these days so it’s not totally unaffordable. What do you think I should do? Let me know in the comments!


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27 thoughts on “Bits & Bugs”

  1. As Elvis Gratton says’Think big (bleep)’Your expertise is growing , hand in hand with the profit.It’s great to have news from the garbage front.I spot ‘garbage’ daily,but do not possess your savy,sophistication and dedication.Thank-you

    1. He’s saying that the infestation of the bugs is so obvious (especially for someone who was living with them) that it’s likely they knew about them.

  2. Hey Martin, With the extra storage space you and your handy friend could make headboard benches. Check them out on etsy or pintrest. I love the four poster and painted ones , but any style of headboard and wood bedframe work. I This keep large items out of the garbage and is a piece of furniture everyone can use.

    1. Yup, I could do a lot of things with that much space. I doubt I’d get into crafty projects personally (my hands are full with collecting, blogging, and eBay stuff) but if my friend might be into it.

  3. Westcott books,a used bookstore at 4065 St.Laurent boulevard in the Plateau is going to close soon (I do not know when).The owner had 20,000 books,a number of which he hoped to sell off and a few he hoped to donate.The rest might go in the dump truck.Many hundreds have already been junked ,according to an article on a blog from 2 weeks ago.I hope people like you and others will rescue those books.I live in Laval and do not have a car—I would love to find out what is going on in the store and how many books remain.The owner could sell off unsold books to another dealer in bulk at low prices,give some away to the public directly and donate hundreds to Renaissance.Other bookstores usually sell unsold books to a dealer at low price when they close instead of junking ’em.The owner could also take a few boxes of books to his apartment.Book-dumping on this scale is very sad.
    Help this situation.Go to 4065 St.Laurent boulevard.

    1. The other day I was driving past there and saw boxes of books being loaded onto a truck. The store itself looked to be almost empty. I doubt too many went to the dump.

  4. Hey Martin,
    I say go for it. You can always decide not to if it’s not working out. The more organized you are the more work you can get done and it can help you focus. If you think it will help you expand and make more money, it should pay for itself. You might have to give it some time to see the results though.
    Thanks for the blog. I’ve been enjoying it.

  5. Is the new garage in a good location, easy to get to, easy to sell from? That could be in the value added column along with better organization and MORE stuff. You know best if the more stuff can translate into more cash. Good luck!!!

    1. It’s basically in the same location as the other one (it’s actually attached via a locked door) so it’s pretty close by. It also has an automatic door opener which is cool. Right now I’m leaning towards taking it… worst comes to worst I’d ask for some donations from readers to help with the costs, ha ha.

  6. I once met Frank Marino’s sister. He was the main member of “Mahogany Rush”.

    If you take the larger garage, and it doesn’t work out, how easy is it to find another one within range?

    The desk looks like my grandfather’s. It probably worked out well once upon a time, when writing was done by hand, but less useful in the typewriter age, and even less so in the computer age. I suppose a laptop might fit in there, but no real space for a monitor with it closed up, and the bookshelf is too high for proper placement.


    1. It’s not too easy to find a good one from my experience. This one is heated as well, and the landlord is good.

      It might be good for a laptop if you had a good chair to go with it, but it’s probably best used as a place to store important papers and maybe do some writing.

  7. I think those secretary desks would be perfect for laptop users. Keep all files and office-related stuff in the drawers. I love the vintage look myself, but for a 21st century update, the “dated” upper door could be removed and the shelves could be used to house a second monitor, or whatever.

    Re: the garage, if you believe you can manage the financial side … I agree with sandrinaharwood about the added value of a good location (in terms of vehicular and pedestrian traffic) that’s easy to get to and easy sell from. Your present garage has a great location, so if there are improved benefits all around, I’d say go for it.

    1. The garage is basically attached to the other, so it’s in a pretty good location. I’m leaning towards going for it.

  8. Go for it. I am excited for you.
    A bigger space might allow you other opportunities.
    Say when the is a super run of stuff and just need to dump it in storage and
    go back and get more!!!!!!

    Also love the idea of repurposing benches out of headboards.
    Are you able to sublease part of the new giant space to friends?
    Would this bigger space be a better write off?

    1. True, with the bigger space too I wouldn’t have to purge things as frequently. It would be a better write off as well.

  9. If there are electrical outlets and decent lighting in the large space(so your friend can use power tools and clearly see projects)go for it! Maybe your friend will help a bit with the cost of the space.

    1. It has electricity, lighting, heat and insulation. My friend currently contributes 100$/m for the smaller garage, so she might be interested in doing the same for the larger.

  10. The bigger space would allow more furniture, you might find you could make alot more money that way. Great furniture finds, especially that wavy front dresser. Beautiful!

    1. That would be nice but it’s another step forward from a financial perspective, and also a time management perspective. I saw a storefront a while back that was 900/m, which is cheap for the area. However that didn’t include insurance, heat, electricity, commercial taxes, etc. It also didn’t include the extra work it would take to make it happen, and it could easily end up so that I end up working 7 days a week, which I don’t want. I already do a lot of work as is. Either way, I definitely don’t have the money to make that happen right now.

  11. Everything you are saying about that storage space sounds awesome 🙂 Get some good shelves in there and make sure you are well organized, and it seems like it will pay for itself, especially since you are able to bring in bigger pieces. You could even have rain or shine garage sales in the summer since everything can stay inside and dry.

  12. I read your blog and also the wonderful comments and articles put up by readers.I read the article about the spate of burglaries in TMR that was posted on your blog.The article mentioned that many homes were burglarized during daytime when owners were out at work.Even if you go there during the day,private security guards are probably on heightened surveillance.People who are at home during day will watch out for neighbors’ homes and might call the police or private security officers if they see scavengers.Continue scavenging there,but I do not want you to get a ticket there and I do not want your Christmas season to be marred by a ticket.Be very discreet and smart.
    By the way I go to TMR on occasion for construction work.I have come across a man of Italian descent in TMR who has a n angry dog and a truck.Maybe he was the fun who was ready to fight you when you took the vintage cars and trinkets from the curbside trash.
    Happy scavenging.And do not lose your hard-earned money.

  13. The garage rental sounds like it could really up your income. I think you should go for it!

    Disgusting that the homeowner didn’t let the movers know of the bedbug infestation. I’m glad you let the movers know. You no doubt saved them a lot of grief.

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