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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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

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3. Etsy store
4. Kijiji listings
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Scrooge pt.1

Back in the early to mid summer I was stopping at this house regularly on garbage day to see what was on the curb. It seemed that every week I’d find either old Christmas decorations or weird vintage junk, often stored in old boxes that dated back at least a few decades (like that Dumaurier one above).

Unfortunately, one day I met one of the people doing the tossing and he was a real d-bag. As things stand today he’d make the top three in my “least pleasant people I’ve met trash picking” list. He had a big truck, an angry dog, and was yelling. Not really wanting to interact with that guy ever again, I abandoned the spot despite the fact that it was producing some unusual vintage trash (my favourite).

This box of old toys was one of the last things I rescued here. Some were ruined, but others were worth salvaging. I stuck it in the basement until recently, when I dug it up to see what was worth selling on eBay. I ended up taking pictures of everything, save for the stuff I had already thrown out or free boxed.

This old tin helicopter was made in Japan by Marusan toys, probably in the 1950s. It’s missing the top rotors and the winding key, but is in pretty good cosmetic condition otherwise. I think it’d be worth around 200$ if it were in mint condition with a box. As is, it’s probably worth closer to 50$.

This old Schuco Fex tin car was also pretty neat. Again, it’s in solid cosmetic condition but has no key and the top detaches from the base. It’s also worth around 200$ in great condition with a box. I hope to get 50$ for it.

The rest of the stuff was cool but not worth the hassle of selling on eBay. Here’s a collection of toy guns…

… a rubber lizard (or some other reptile) marked “Made in Japan”;

… a celluloid Santa on a tin sleigh (the reindeer is a bit busted, otherwise it might be worth listing);

… a wind-up baby goat with a missing tail;

… a vintage xylophone;

… an old lantern;

… a walkie talkie;

… an operator / battery pack for a missing toy;

… a wooden flute from Niagara Falls;

… some miscellaneous bric-a-brac, including a couple of lead soldiers;

… some toy cars;

… a weird rabbit that looks to be made out of paper mache;


… and a “Tuck-ins” blanket holder, made by a Henry Davis Co. Pretty cute eh? I’ll share some of the stranger stuff from this spot soon enough!

In the meantime, I figured I’d share these old tobacco tins I found last week.

They were stuffed with old matchbooks.

Most were from the same two places (the “Red Lion” Motor Inn and the “Blue Seas,” both in Miami Beach) but there were some others I thought were worth sharing. I always enjoy finding old matchbooks, especially when they’re cool from a graphic design perspective. My favourite of the bunch is probably the Expo 67 Cuban Pavilion matchbook near the top right. I’ve never seen one before, and couldn’t find anything similar online.

This week was relatively slow, but there’s still lots of great stuff, including potential “find of the year” type items that I have yet to share. You’ll have to keep coming back if you want to see what they are!

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.

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