I’ve been everywhere

The weather’s been great for picking this summer and as a result I’ve spent more time touring around different neighbourhoods. Today I’ll share some finds from parts of the city I haven’t explored much, if at all previously.

To find new garbage days I’ll often consult the various municipal websites, many of which feature helpful maps like the one for Hochelaga below. I misread them occasionally though and a couple of times ended up in the far east with little garbage in sight. One of those runs was salvaged by a pile containing a big haul of jewelry. Most of it was actually junk, but the three pieces above (a silver cat ring, a vintage brooch, and an 18k gold shoe pendant) made the trip worthwhile.

The jewelry came from somewhere around the top right of the light blue zone. I went there hoping to find trash in the yellow zone north of Sherbrooke, which seems to be a bit richer and a better bet for quality trash, but the trash day for that part is actually on Thursday! So it goes.


I did some picking in Cartierville, a borough bordering the river on the north side of the island. The neighbourhood is pretty diverse, serving a wide range of ethnicities and social classes. It might be my favourite of the new garbage days and I expect I’ll go there semi-regularly in the future. Here’s a haul of decent electronic junk I found in front of one house. Sony PSPs and Gameboy Advances still sell for good money, though I haven’t tested either yet (maybe I’ll do that in the fall). I added the cell phones to my e-waste pile.

One day I met a cool guy who was clearing out a nice old house by the waterfront. It had belonged to his father, who worked in construction, and looked to be filled with all kinds of handy stuff. The son had a favourable view of trash picking and put out this pile with metal scrappers in mind. I stopped by a couple times and came away with some decent stuff, like the anchor (which sold at auction for under 20$) and an old 4×4 jack that sold for 44$. I picked a few other things, but my most profitable score was a large collection of pennies that was offered to me.

He wanted to keep the bucket so we dumped them in a suitcase I had found earlier in the day. Overall I think there was about 40$ of pennies in there! Later that day I put them in a cool vintage cement tin and brought them to auction where they eventually sold for 70$. I think I mentioned this in a recent post but pennies are a pretty popular in interior design these days and sell for above value (and no rolling required) at auction.

I wish I had found this spot earlier – I bet I missed out on some pretty cool stuff.

I found a bit of junk out front of a decrepit old house complete with an unkempt yard and a rusty old car. Most was legit trash, but I did save a few neat things like an old frog & tadpole in tiny jars with formaldehyde. I think these will join my permanent collection of unusual trash. I was hoping to find more there, but I didn’t see anything in the subsequent weeks.


The garbage day in the Laval-des-Rapides and Pont-Viau sectors of Laval are the same as in Cartierville so I went on a few long runs where I covered both. The area, especially Pont-Viau has potential though the vibes seem a little weird up there. Maybe the unpleasant interaction I had with some macho dude (who felt that trying to physically intimidate me was a good way to get me to leave his trash alone) left a bad taste in my mouth. I’ll return at some point though as I’m sure not everyone in Laval sucks. This 1980s hockey championship pin was a good momento for the time I spent there.

I also found some cool photos, like this shot of a Mets game from the early 70s. I’m a baseball fan so I love finding this kind of stuff.

Saint Michel isn’t a new neighbourhood for me, though I did discover a previously unexplored part north of Highway 40 and east of Boulevard Saint Michel. There’s not much money there, in fact I think it’s one of the poorest areas in the city but I still managed to find some decent stuff. Here I saved an old dresser, a chair that I sold for 20$ at my most recent yard sale, and a solid vintage mirror that I recently brought to the auction house.

It’s worth noting that it’s very important to be wary of bedbugs when picking trash especially in lower income neighbourhoods. However, I know how to inspect my furniture finds and all this stuff looked clean (though dusty, I expect it had been in storage for a while).

The dresser had some veneer wear but was still very solid and featured some really nice vintage drawer pulls.

I’ve been using Instagram more lately and it’s helped me sell furniture quickly, sometimes the same day I find it. Basically I’ll post a picture in the “stories” section and state a price with same day delivery (I don’t like playing message tag, and my main goal is to move it as soon as possible). I delivered this dresser within a couple hours of posting it for a profit of 30$, which isn’t much but is definitely better than nothing!

This dresser I found in Ville St Laurent is another successful use of that model – I picked it up in the morning and delivered it later that day for 60$. Not bad! I’m hoping that this new sales technique will help keep my storages clear and reduce my reliance on yard sales and Kijiji people, who can be annoying to deal with.


Ville St Laurent isn’t a new neighbourhood but I have been visiting it more often of late. One day I found boxes full of figurines, many of which were elephants. None were super special, but I did sell a bunch at my yard sales.

My best find there last month was this vintage mid-century pendant lamp.


I brought it to the auction house that same day. It ended up selling for 75$, a price I’m happy with considering that it needed some TLC (the wiring was totally shot for one, and some of the colour on the metal bits was worn). I’ll be returning to this spot next week in hopes of finding more quality junk!

I didn’t do much picking this week due to the rain. I’ve also been focused on clearing out my garage and bringing things to auction. Now that I have this outlet for my wares I’m much more motivated to better organize my finds – it’d be much easier to create lots of like items if I spend a bit of time categorizing them from the beginning (like the ashtrays from my last post, but I had to dig through all my boxes to find those!).

I decided that it’d be much easier to start anew if I get rid of the clutter, so I’m going to do a blowout sale of my low-value wares this weekend. My plan is to do the sale in front of the school on Bernard / Waverly in the Mile End (a popular yard sale spot) on Saturday starting at 10am [edit: the weather is now looking worse for Saturday so I think I’ll aim for Sunday instead]. Just because the items aren’t worth a lot doesn’t mean they aren’t cool (and maybe flippable) so come on down if you’re in the area! If things go well I might do a sale Sunday as well, though I might just leave the stuff on the curb for others to pick through. I’d lose a bit of potential profit, but at this point I consider that part of the opportunity cost of revamping my space.

After all that I plan on taking some time off from organizing. Over the last month or so I’ve put so many hours into moving my junk around and I need a break!


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12 thoughts on “I’ve been everywhere”

  1. Pennies may be worth more than face value because of the copper content and current price of copper

  2. Yard sale—yay! 😀 (I love them.) Last blast before a well deserved rest.

    Everyone needs a break. Taking time for a small vacation, aside from being beneficial in itself, could also pay off by resulting in more energy moving ahead. Enjoy!

  3. The instagram angle is is interesting. On one hand, I am somewhat surprised at how much it has helped especially given the same day sales-this due to my ineptitude when it comes to social media. On the other hand, I’m not surprised given the “power” of social media, as people say. I am glad you have found it so helpful.

    1. Instagram works well for me largely because I already have a good number of local followers. A lot of people use Instagram to sell other stuff but I don’t have the patience for that (like I said, I hate playing message tag).

  4. I like when you talk about the character of the different boroughs of Montreal. And I’m very interested in hearing how your business is evolving. I’m glad you’re getting a handle on what works at auction. (I’m glad you’re able to save some lovely bits of furniture, the ones that only need a little love to make them sparkle once again.)
    I nearly gagged when I got to the part where the macho dude was trying to physically intimidate you. Eeeek! It will make for another interesting chapter when you get around to writing your book anyway. But however did you diffuse that situation?

    1. Basically he pulled up with two other women and approached me mid-pick, getting closer than was really necessary with his chest pushed out like a macho dude. I forget what he said exactly but I remember having a pile of my finds out that helped me look non threatening (I’ll often leave “examples” of what I’m looking for out for people to see so they’re less paranoid about identity theft or whatever). Indeed he seemed to deem that I was not a threat and in the end we agreed that I take the stuff I found and go. I think macho types tend to find me weird as well, which makes them not want to fight me or whatever haha.

  5. Bedbugs are in issue in all used upholstered furniture. I’d be leery of picking any of it, whether from a rich or poor neighborhood.

    Thanks for keeping e-waste out of the dump, Martin!

    1. Not just upholstered, any kind of furniture. Also papers, books, and other stuff that happened to be near the bed. Using the tips on my page I think you can avoid bedbugs 99.9% of the time. It’s important to always be vigilant but poor neighbourhoods are particularly risky for a variety of reasons (crappy landlords, bugs more likely to spread in apartments, inability to afford pest control options, people are more likely to trash pick infested furniture, etc).

  6. Thanks for the tips on auctions, Martin. My entreprenuerial (sp?) 12 year-old son and I did an online search and found one in our area. We had a blast visiting a live auction the other day. I didn’t know they sold smallish stuff and yard sale items. Will be going back for sure.

    1. Cool, yes I’m sure there’s many different auction houses with many different ways of doing business. The one I use is all online, but there are others (I know of another one that’s online, and another one – a bit higher end – that’s both live and online). I haven’t been to a live auction in many years but it does sound like fun…

  7. I really like the Art Deco design on the dresser, more so than the pulls!

  8. Sorry ’bout the pont viau macho guy (macho guys think Other people are weird? while strutting’ around like peacocks on meth?) but lavalois aren’t all like that, while it’s true that point viau does have very varied architecture,& a fully hinky,gothy vibe, it might be worth a second run,i do however recommend Chomedy,just over the cartierville bridge, hang a left, check out the many streets’ got a buddy who lives there & trash days are often worth it, we have both found great old art deco furniture,”sam spade” swivelling oak chairs, nice pink floyd & other laminations, loads of paintings,vinyle,tapes,etc.

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