Changes pt.2

My garage, after a lot of purging and reorganizing in preparation for my friend’s van going in

Early in the summer, I heard about a new artist space opening up in Outremont. The idea excited me, because for a while I’d been thinking that my “garbage life” was far too isolating. More often than not, I pick alone, I sort alone (in this garage), I write alone, I research alone, and I sell alone.

My theory was that, by splitting a space with other people, artists in particular, I’d feel a little less alone, maybe make some new friends, benefit from some new connections, etc. And I did enjoy being there, for a bit. But eventually, reality set in: for all that craving for social interaction, for a feeling of community, and so on, I also really wanted to work less hard. With rent at 320$ a month, I realized I had to hustle 320$ a month harder (or close to 3840$ a year) to just to survive.

I’ve talked about burnout here a lot, maybe you’re sick of hearing about it. But I found a way to make trash picking into a lot of work. Finding the trash (10-15 hours a week) is usually kind of fun, when I’m not getting yelled at by idiots. But when I do get a big haul of stuff, I suddenly have a carload of stuff to deal with. So I have to empty the car / drop off all this junk at the storage, and organize it again. The more interesting stuff gets sequestered together (by the spot where I found it) for future blog photos, and the less interesting stuff goes straight to the yard sale bin, or a shelf if it’s something I want to research a bit more. When I actually get around to taking these blog photos, that’s pretty time consuming, and I don’t really get paid for it. And then there’s the stuff that’s worth nothing or close to it, that I devote energy to redistributing anyways because I hate waste, the actual garbage I have to take out (inevitably I take things I shouldn’t, especially when I throw whole bags in the car), and the bins and bins full of yard sale stuff that I have to keep from overflowing and making my space a disaster zone. And then, there’s the blog writing, photo editing, social media, and etc. Blogging + photography, in the past sometimes took around 15-20 hours a week alone back when I was really pumping them out, and doing these monster posts with crazy amounts of pictures.

I can empathize with poor Newman here, because the garbage never stops, and all the work above is a job in itself, in my opinion. But maybe you noticed that, despite all those tasks, I haven’t actually made any money yet. Yard sales are more fun than work, especially now that I pay a friend to help me (I can’t believe I used to do them all by myself), but they’re still work (often close to 10 hours) and a lot of my money is made on eBay. That’s where my more valuable finds go, but it can take minutes or hours to figure out what something is worth (not to mention the items where no matter how much I “do my own research,” I’m not qualified, or just don’t feel qualified enough to make a final evaluation). Listing itself can take 5-30 minutes depending on the complexity of the item (I’d say the average is like 10-12 minutes, between taking the pictures and writing the description, adding shipping costs, etc). Until it sells, you have to store it somewhere, and then when it does sell, you have to put it in a box and ship it out. Most of the time the transaction goes off without a hitch, but once in a while something goes wrong and you have to do something. And all the while, “the garbage never stops,” so there’s always some new thing to deal with / worry about.

Me looking haggard at the “new space,” surrounded by years-old crap, and some fresh finds as well

So anyways, short story long, I get this new coworking space. I bring a bunch of my junk from the old space, but then I realize there’s not really all that much that I actually wanted to bring. And a lot of the stuff I did bring, were finds from literally 2-3 years ago, that I hadn’t actually gotten around to doing anything with beyond many rounds of sorting (they were often “complicated finds,” or things that needed a lot of research and attention).

And why was I still hauling around such old finds? Probably because there was no way for one person to stay on top of this much stuff. Then I think of the 320$ a month price tag and freak out a little, because it means that not only am I going to have to keep hustling my ass off just to make rent, I’m actually going to have to hustle harder.

So, that didn’t work out (on top of those issues, the space was also on the 2nd floor which wasn’t really very convenient… I was really looking through rose-coloured glasses when I made the initial decision). Thankfully I hadn’t had to sign a lease, and had kept control of the garage (I tried renting some of that space to friends for winter vehicle storage, to save a bit of cash, but my landlord apparently doesn’t want me doing that for some cockamamie reason, so that’s off now too… a whole other story though not a very exciting one).

And now I’m back to square one, where I spend way too much time alone, operate out of a fortress of solitude where the rent has recently increased from 200$ a month to 250$, and wish I was part of something bigger. However, I did learn one thing from this experience – that I don’t want to devote so much of my life to work, at least not in the way I have been.

I think that’s enough words for now, next time maybe I’ll get into my ideas for how to proceed going forward, in a way that’s more fulfilling and less work intensive.

Below is a photo dump of some stuff I found pre-pandemic, but never got around to sharing here.

(On a side note, some of my economic anxiety also has to do with the fact that since a spectacular 2020, the garbage has sucked much more often than not. Finds have been a bit better lately, but I’m still not finding much in the way of gold, and neighbourhoods that were once cash cows have been mostly wastelands for some time now. So, these expenses that might not have stressed me out previously, are stressing me out now… but either way, the work/life balance was an issue I was going to have to deal with regardless).


1. My eBay listings, Sign up for eBay (Canada, US), Search for something you want / research something you have (Canada, US) – FYI these are Ebay Partner Network links, so I make a few bucks if you sign up for an account or buy something after getting to eBay using these links
2. Facebook page
3. Follow @garbagefinds and @garbagefindssells (selling account, operated by someone else) on Instagram
4. Email: – note that I can’t fulfill most requests for items, many are already gone by the time they are posted here.

22 thoughts on “Changes pt.2”

  1. Thank you for keeping us updated about how you feeling and what you are thinking. I continue to think there might be some sort of paid column or book deal which could supplement your income stream… What you do is SO IMPORTANT and fascinating and shines a light on so many complicated issues!

  2. I spend a lot of alone time picking, cleaning. listing and etc. My out is that I am able to resell out of a mall space (in fact, two). I am positioned to be able to sort and price out of my home as does my newly retired husband. I am obligated to work a few days a month at the mall and that is my people time. Separating the wheat from the chaff is never ending and like you, I don’t want things to die on my watch if there is still life in them. I am relieved to get your latest update as I consider you a member of my tribe.

    1. The yard sales are a bit like my “mall space.” In the summer it gets me out and socializing maybe 2-3 days a month on average. Unfortunately, there’s a good six months of the year where that is pretty much impossible. There are pop-up sales I could do, but usually by the end of yard sale season, I’m low on stuff and enjoy the break from selling. Also, the pop-up sales are a lot of work for questionable return. I could probably use to find a hobby, like the person below has said.

  3. I think the best way to make friends is to join a club. You need like minded people to connect with. Maybe genealogy, book, antiques or something like that. Are there other collectors you can meet with for coffee on a regular basis to exchange information or trade items? Are there talks or lectures anywhere to attend? You need to network without a feeling of competition. Maybe something away from your work. Have you tried drawing or painting pictures of some items? Do a sketchbook for your own satisfaction. Then you can join a sketchbook group. They are all over the place. Canada is big on art.

  4. Thanks for the update. A very illuminating post. Everyone deserves a modicum of stress-free down time in their life. I hope you light upon a work / life balance that works for you. I look forward to reading how you proceed going forward. And thanks too for the inclusion in this post of a picture of yourself; it’s always nice to put a face to the individual behind the words. 🙂

  5. Thanks for articulating the process so well that we can see all of the work required to get from finding to selling. Keep telling your followers/fans about it because both you and your work to make a living from picking is really important. And that dejeneur cafe sign is the bee’s knees! Take care, Martin

  6. As I was reading your post, I kept thinking: be glad you don’t live in the u.s. I imagine the average comparable rent here would be at least quadruple, but probably more than that…And don’t get me started about “healthcare” costs and ignominies… it is truly a nightmare.

    I know those facts can’t really help you “feel better, ” but, I wonder how much harder it would be to do what you do here, if it was possible at all. To say nothing of your finds. I could be ignorant of possible treasures all around me, but it’s hard for me to believe relatively wealthy people are dumping treasures on the curb the way they are there. My suspicion is our popular estate sale market eliminates most of that. Over the last couple of decades, estate sales have gotten more expensive and more competitive. You can still find a good deal, but it’s much harder to find a great deal – and the odds of finding a treasure are not as great as they once were.
    I can really relate to almost everything you’ve been taking about over the years.

    As far as practical job issues go, have you considered a part time employee? I know it can open up other challenges, but it seems like it could eliminate some of the drudgery that weighs on you and everyone that does reselling for a living. I hesitate to say anything, as I’m sure you’ve at least considered it. I guess in some ways I’m talking to myself, but there are more challenges to having employees here and my situation doesn’t allow it at the moment, but that might change next year.

    Well, all the best for the next year, for both of us. 😉 I guess I’ll end with more obvious, yet hard won, advice: if you have any hopes, dreams, plans to travel or anything that involves you being physically healthy and taking some risks, do it now. If you lose your health, or simply suffer the common indignities of aging, it makes everything harder and many things impossible. So, I guess I’ll go from the obvious to what used to be a common saying: make hay while the sun shines. Man, I’m making myself sound ancient, but I’m not a senior citizen, yet. Anyway, I know it’s easier said than done, but it sounds like you’re trying new things and stretching yourself a bit. When you’re not feeling 100%, that’s more than admirable. From what I’ve observed over the years, you have the intelligence and skills to make things happen, so keep trying new things and you’ll find the things that work for you, in all aspects of your life…

    Well, I guess that’s my version of a pep talk. I’m not the kind of a guy who gives pep talks, but it’s just an honest response.

    Ok, be well and I’ll look forward to the next update.

    – Cheers

  7. Thanks for the update, Martin. I also live in a large city where it can be difficult to meet people. My husband and I enjoy walking/hiking. We’ve joined several “meetups” in our city and find it’s a great way to meet/spend time with others. Getting out in nature and chatting with others has been good for us. Although your job is quite physical and you may not need to exercise, I think you would enjoy getting out with others walking group. Following is a link to a group (2,000 plus members) in Montreal you may want to check out:

    There are meetups for just about any activity you can think of so If walking is not for you, search for other “meetups” in Montreal.

  8. You’ve got to consider completely eliminating anything to do with selling and inventory. Pick only the stuff you know will sell at auction. Discard the rest. I get a headache just looking through all the stuff you pick up that just ends up collecting dust. A cluttered space is a cluttered mind

  9. Hey Martin, Always so great to see a post from you. You are such a good writer and photographer. I am always rooting for you. Have been following your blog for a longgggg time. Love what you do, and can commisserate with the struggles. I despise listing on eBay, but in my mind I tell myself that it is a gift to my future self, since I get such a thrill when I make a sale. Even small sales absolutely delight me. I am thinking maybe a “social” part-time job might be just what you need. Last summer season I worked for a concert venue and saw 30 great shows, musicians and comedians, and got paid for it. Just a thought. You are young and I know you will find something if you keep trying. I wish you well and thank you for the time and effort you make with your work and posts.

  10. I’m sorry that didn’t work out for you. Yes, selling can be a very lonely endeavor. I did want you to know that I enjoy your posts here and I hope you can connect with a great community of people soon. I think it’s awesome you gave that a shot!

  11. I have enjoyed reading your blog. One of the first things that struck me was the artistry of your photographs – you are an artist! Perhaps you should consider selling your photos – enlarged versions suitable for hanging on a wall. The old seed packages, the group of spices, the scissors… and many more.

    Best of luck in 2023!

  12. Thanks as always for your fantastic posts! I would happily support your blog if there was a way to do it via Interac to an email address. Bon courage Martin, after all dry spells, a little rain will fall. You have an amazing eye and a fantastic skill set. I wonder if there’s an easy way to monetize that – e.g., offering your research services if people send you photos of mystery items. You could charge upfront for doing an appraisal. Just a thought. You already have a presence via this blog, and your other avenues.

    1. If you’re Canadian you can always send an e-transfer to my email listed at the bottom of the post. Any support is helpful and appreciated!

    2. Meghan, every auction house under the sun will appraise your item for free and sell their loved ones down the river at the same time to get to sell your things at their houses….

  13. Patreon may be a good way to make a little money from exclusive content but would add to the workload, unfortunately. I always love seeing what you have to say.

    1. There is the Patreon route, but I like to keep this as inclusive as possible, especially because trash picking is a good way for poor people to make a few extra $$ (and I give them some good tips here I think)

    2. Patreon is as genius as Costco brainwashing members to pay an annual fee to shop at their stores when all other retailers spend money hand over fist on trying to attract shoppers. Genius.

  14. I like clutter in our condo.Stuff we love but we can’t fully organize.I have three bedrooms and one living room.Most of the condo is very neat but one bedroom is very cluttered.I love visiting the cluttered room and admiring the treasures there once or twice every week.Why is clutter bad?

    1. I like my personal collection clutter. I also have a lot of things, but it’s not messy and I enjoy having them around. The clutter I don’t like is the “I have to figure out how to sell / get rid of this crap, or else my storage is going to overflow, and there’s yet another load of crap I have to deal with coming soon, or already waiting in the car, ugh” clutter.

  15. Why is clutter bad? Because I said so, of course. Get rid of all that junk immediately and see how wonderful you’ll feel. We need to pull our friend from the fire pronto. Junk is not the answer. Junk ranks 11 on the top ten list of worst ways to rescue our dear friend. Your friendly neighborhood SPAC.

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