Tag Archives: environment

Old stock

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I went out a fair bit last week despite it snowing a tonne, or probably many tonnes. I think there was 20 or so centimeters one day and another 15 not long after. All that snow makes it hard to drive or park, not to mention bike. I took it easy the first half of the week while the snow removal went down. I didn’t want to lose my parking spot (it was unlikely I’d get one even half as nice) and figured that people were too busy shoveling to throw much out anyways. Thankfully, I did have a few productive runs later in the week.

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Let’s start though with an interesting find from the week before. I got around to sorting through all those clothes I found in the Plateau. A lot of them look pretty decent and likely yard saleable, perhaps even Etsyable. I’m not really a clothes guy though so this flag was of greater personal interest. I didn’t know what it was at first, but was able to quickly identify it as the flag of the Azores Liberation Front, a right-wing paramilitary group whose goal was to gain independence for the Azores Islands from Portugal. The organization was of note for only a few years in the mid-70s and this flag appears to be pretty uncommon as a result – I can’t find any on eBay, and there’s not even very many referenced on Google. My plan is to list it on eBay for 100$ and see if anyone bites. I think a flag collector, particularly one with an interest in aspirant peoples might find it interesting.

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I found a bit more junk at that spot in CDN where I found that silver picture frame. There were a couple of vintage Parker ballpoint pens, nothing too fancy but nice nonetheless. The Swiss Army Knives were cheap knockoffs, but a cheap knockoff is still better than nothing. That Timex watch looks to be in nice shape, though I don’t have a battery to test it with.

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I also found a couple of self-help tapes / cassettes that should make for good yard sale material. The Bruce + Kris Jenner exercise video is a blast to the past for a variety of reasons, and apparently Tony Robbins went by Anthony Robbins in the 80s. Both are still in their original shrink wrap.

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I stopped at another spot when I noticed two bags of books sitting on the curb. Inside the bin were even more books, and fortunately they were placed in bags. There’s nothing quite as annoying as coming cross a bin stuffed full of books, as getting to the ones on the bottom without making a mess is pretty near impossible.

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A bunch of them weren’t in great shape – they looked like the had spent a little too long in a basement. But a lot of them were still in good condition, including a number from a set of Victor Hugo books published I think in the 1930s. I don’t think that set is in good enough condition for me to list them on eBay, as book collectors tend to be a picky bunch and I don’t know think they’d be worth the hassle of describing and listing, but I’ll bet that they’ll be a hit at yard sales.

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I went back to that same spot on garbage day and found a bit of decent junk. Inside one bag was a collection of screws which should come in handy, especially to my roommate who does a lot of woodworking.

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I also found a box full of old photo junk. Nothing too exciting really, but there was a box of slides there that appear to have been taken at an Eric Clapton show in the late 70s. I have them listed on eBay for 40$, and they should sell for around that.

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I also saved this dark room enlarger doohickey that might make me 50$ on eBay.

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I came across this spot later on that day and saved a bunch of decent stuff. I’m glad that empty box was there, I needed somewhere to put my finds!

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I salvaged a bunch of nice jewelry boxes, a lot of which are from Birks. Unfortunately none of them came with any jewelry (though I did find a broken 14k gold chain that’s worth about 40$ for scrap), but some of will be useful for mailing out eBay junk. The ones that are less conducive to mailing, like the watch boxes I’ll try selling at a yard sale. Also in the box are a couple sample sized vials of Chanel #5, a 100ml bottle of Teck by Molinard (already sold!), a snow globe, and a few vintage lottery tickets from the 70s.

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I also saved these cool framed butterflies. I’m sure someone will pounce on this at a yard sale.

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My best find however was a large collection of wooden combs, toothbrushes, and safety razors, most of which were still sealed in plastic. The look to have been made for a local startup, but judging by their website they’ve since moved on to some different designs.

I won’t share the name of the startup here, as I’m sure they’re not the only one that has tossed out old stock over the years. And in a way I get how a small local company like this might not want to donate their old stuff, as by doing so they would devalue the very market they’re trying to access. Still, it’s a little frustrating to see these things get manufactured and then tossed out in favor of a slightly different design. It’s a waste of resources, and it’s obviously not great for the environment. Plus, the products are actually nice, so they really should be put to use.

Oh well, at least I was there to save it all! I’m not going to get rich here, but this stuff should make me a bit of money over time. I’ll probably bring several of each to every yard sale, maybe selling the razors for 2$, the wood combs for 1$, and the toothbrushes for .50$. I’ll probably still have some left by this time next year, but I don’t mind if it brings me some easy pocket change.

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Otherwise, I saved this cute three-footed dish from some bags in Outremont. It’s pretty small, about two inches tall, and looks to be quite old. I doubt it’s worth much – for one, it probably used to have a lid – but I’d be interested to hear if anyone knows where and when it might have been made. It looks similar to a lot of old Nipponware to me, but there’s no makers marks that would help identify it as such.

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I’ll finish with a funny story. A while back one of my roommates requested that I find him a French press. I did, and for a while it worked out well for him. However, the other day we were talking in the kitchen, and as he was trying to empty his can of coffee into the press he tapped the glass a bit to hard and it broke. Fortunately for him I had found this other French press just a couple days before, and it wasn’t long before he was able to drink his usual morning cup or three. This press is actually nicer too, it’s a real Bodum while the other one was a cheaper knockoff. This just goes to show that there are benefits to having me as a roommate!

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Recent sales (October 10 – November 6)

I’d like to thank everyone for their comments on my last post! I don’t have time to reply to all of them, but it’s good to get positive as well as constructive feedback. I also enjoyed reading people’s trash picking related stories. There ended up being a lot more comments than I ever would have expected (I’m pretty sure we beat the record for the most on a single blog post), and that certainly helped to remind me that a lot of people care about garbage, history, and reducing waste.

I’ve taken some days off this week to allow my brain to reset. It’s already been hard to resist the allure of garbage, which means that I should be good to go soon enough.

Otherwise, I plan on continuing with the full-time picking, perhaps switching up my schedule so that I go out more often in the mornings. I think that will make me less intimidating to concerned citizens. However, if I see an opportunity for a cool job I may take it. Sometimes I miss working with other people and being part of a group. As things are now I do most of my work alone, and that can feel pretty isolating. But I sure won’t be quitting my reasonably well paid garbage work to become a dishwasher or anything like that, and I’ll definitely continue picking and posting even if I do happen to find a different line of work.

Anyways, here’s a list of recent sales. Or, as they can otherwise be referred to, things that probably would have been destroyed if not for my trash picking.

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1. Yard sale: 400$. Thankfully the weather cooperated and offered me one more nice weekend day for a yard sale. There’s now snow on the ground, so it’s likely that this sale was the last of the year, though I might end up selling some stuff at an indoor market event sometime in December.

This year I organized fewer sales, but in general made more money per sale. It’s a strategy I imagine I’ll employ again next year. Yard sales are hard work, and doing more of them doesn’t seem to actually result in more money.

My advertising skills got a lot better as the year went on, basically because I found this sandwich board in the trash. I used it for my last two sales and they were among my most successful of the year. In fact, I think the 400$ from this sale might have made it my most profitable ever. It seems obvious now that having a good sign on a busy intersection would help, to the point where I probably should have just bought one earlier in life. Oh well!

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2. Vintage hand-made church / creche: On Kijiji for 40$. I always liked this thing. If I had a bigger place I might have used it as a decoration but alas I don’t have anywhere to put a 2′ tall church. I’m guessing it was made in the 50s or 60s. It was definitely some kind of nativity scene despite the fact that Jesus wasn’t born in a church. It took a while to sell, but the guy who bought it seemed to like it a lot. Found not far from my last place in the Plateau.

3. Anime DVDs: 3 different titles for a total of 75$. I’m starting to run low on anime DVDs. Once they’re all gone maybe I’ll look back and figure out how much I earned from the collection. I’d guess that it’s close to 1000$, making it a very good find. Found last fall in the Plateau.

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4. Vintage Oldfellows sash: On eBay for 25$. This went to a buyer in Australia. Found in Westmount last summer.

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5. Trippen heels: On eBay for 175$. I consider myself pretty good at recognizing when something has value. However, when it comes to clothes and shoes I know very little, and to be honest find the whole category intimidating. I don’t feel confident about sizing (when it’s off, you’re getting a return), I’m not good at recognizing what people actually want to buy, and I don’t have a good setup for taking photos, though this is more of a problem for clothes than shoes. In the end, I just don’t understand fashion besides what looks good on me personally (and sometimes not even that).

However, I seem to have gotten lucky with these Trippen heels. I found them in January, and threw them in the car because they were leather and looked to be in good condition. They came from a rich neighbourhood, so I thought it was slightly more likely that they were designer and expensive. As it turns out Trippen is a fairly desirable designer brand, and once I actually listed them (about eight months after I found them) they sold within a week for a very nice price.

I guess shoes aren’t really so bad. At least they’re easy to take photos of. Clothes though, I can’t see myself getting into that market anytime soon.

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6. Unopened vintage 1960s can of Nestle Quik: On eBay for 100$. I found these cans way back in February, and one of you mentioned that sometimes these old tins sell for pretty good money. I did some research and found one that sold at auction for almost 700 CAD$ which really surprised me.

My can wasn’t quite as old as that one, and the “free 6oz” thing probably detracts from the value a bit given that it’s not the classic design, but it was still very cool and I decided to list my Quik tin for a ridiculous price (I think 500$ to start, and then I lowered it to 300$ at some point). I didn’t really expect it to sell for that much but I figured I might as well try. I mostly forgot about it until I got an email recently from someone offering me 100$. I figured that was a pretty good deal – it was still a lot more than I ever would have expected to make selling ancient, long expired chocolate powder.

Now that this can is gone, maybe it’s time to list the other one. Especially with Christmas coming. I actually like collecting old food tins, especially stuff that was never opened, but I’m too broke to justify not making three figures when I know it’s possible. Found on Beaconsfield road in NDG.

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7. iPod Classic 80gb: On eBay for 100$. This was the most valuable of the many iPods I found in the Plateau this year.

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8. Sterling silver bottle decoration: On eBay for 23$. I found this almost three years ago. It took a while to sell, but that’s partly because I had it overpriced for some time. It says l’chaim, which is a Hebrew toast that translates to “to life.”

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9. Inoxcrom sterling silver pen set: On eBay for 120$. Found this February.

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10. Collection of miniature perfumes: On eBay for 35$. I’ll probably list another lot of miniatures soon. I could earn more selling them individually, but doing that takes a lot more time and effort.

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11. Logitech Harmony 650 universal remote: On eBay for 35$. This thing sold really quickly. Found a few weeks ago in Outremont.

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12. Vintage Pelikan fountain pen box: On eBay for 19$. Found last year in Hampstead.

13. Lot of Jewish pins: On eBay for 13$. I had these listed for a lonngggg time. I’m just glad they’re gone.

14. Vintage mother of pearl compact: To a reader on Etsy for 26$.

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15. Finder’s fee: 100$. I guess this counts as income!

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15. Perfumes: To a reader for 400$. This included all the Guerlains, most of the Chanels and some others. I still have lots to list! This junked perfume was easily one of my best finds of the year.

Total: 1660$, 19484$ since the new year. I’ll need a good Christmas season if I want to reach my goal of 24k.

Relevant links

1. Facebook page
2. My eBay listings
3. Etsy store
4. Kijiji listings
5. Contribute to Garbagefinds.com

Email: thingsifindinthegarbage@gmail.com. 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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The Future

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It’s been pretty slim pickings the past few weeks. It’s hard not to get discouraged, especially given the experience I had with the police recently. At first I was mostly annoyed by it. However, being punished for trash picking also reminds me that scavengers are pariahs to a sizable portion of society.

Feeling like an outcast kind of sucks, and it’s gotten to my head a bit. I’ve become more concerned about the opinions of other people, and more afraid that people might see me picking and tell me to buzz off or call the police. Not to mention that after being treated like a criminal, I have to wonder if the police actually suspect I am a criminal.

If I had found anything good in the past few weeks I probably wouldn’t be thinking as much about it. But I’ve barely found anything at all, which leads to thoughts about whether this is a reliable line of work, especially after accounting for the fact that I’ll have issues with police and neighbourhood security types as long as I do it. It makes me wonder if I should find a “real job.” It’d be nice if going back to school was an option, but that’s a no go because as a dumb kid I decided to spend my student loan money on two more or less useless degrees, and only realized I had no idea what I actually wanted to do with my life after it was almost over.

However, it’s also true that trash picking might be more important now than it has ever been. I don’t want to get too political here, but Donald Trump was just elected President, and the guy doesn’t seem to believe at all in climate change. In fact he has said that it’s all a Chinese conspiracy. I’ve personally saved (literally!) tonnes of great stuff from going to landfill, and I know for a fact that this blog has encouraged people to try their hand at scavenging. The more people trash pick, the more we can mitigate the effects of a Donald Trump presidency and our wasteful, throwaway society.

So, unless some great opportunity presents itself it’s probably best that I keep on keeping on and learn not to be affected by the haters hate. I’m still confident that there’s enough garbage out there to keep me going financially. However, I’m also going to put some thought into re-branding, or maybe changing the way I pick. I’ll let you know if I make any changes.

In the meantime, I’d appreciate it if you could tell me in the comments why you think trash picking is cool! I presume you do, since you read this blog. But it might help me remember that not everyone thinks that scavengers are low-life deviants. I’d also enjoy reading some of your trash picking stories, including best finds, best & worst encounters with other people, and so on.

Today I’ll share with you some of my finds from the past few weeks, and some stuff from earlier than I never got around to mentioning. At the top of the page was my best find from last week – a non-functioning Xbox 360 with lots of accessories. The 360 doesn’t power on, and none of the basic stuff I did to try to fix it worked. Still, I’m sure someone can fix it, or maybe just use it for parts. I put the whole lot on Kijiji for 50$, which is a good deal considering how much comes with it.

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This alarm clock was part of the great week I had about a month ago. It was found under some cassettes in a garbage can while taking a walk in the Mile End. The clock is an old Westclox “Big Ben” that was made in Peterborough Ontario sometime in the 20s or 30s. It works great and is quite attractive, though the ticking is way too loud for me to personally enjoy. I have it listed on eBay for 85$ + shipping.

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One of the cassettes was this Feldenkrais lesson from 1980. It’s kind of funny because one of my best friends, and sometimes lender of car is a Feldenkrais practitioner. It’s not valuable or anything, but my friend certainly appreciated it!

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I returned to the spot that earned me a “finders fee” and found a bunch of ripped up trash bags. Someone else had gotten there before me and did a crappy job at not making a mess. I presume they found some good stuff as well. Regardless, I dug around to see if there was anything they missed and found a small sterling silver dish, a Mexican silver bangle, a few miscellaneous pins, and an alpaca hair comb. The dish is the best find of the bunch – it weighs about 60 grams, making it worth about 30$ in scrap.

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If you have any ideas as to what this is let me know! It’s about six inches long, looks like a bouquet, comes in a nice box, and is totally unmarked. The base tests positive for silver, and the black bits at the end smell like some kind of incense. I posted it on the “what is this thing” subreddit and the best guess was that is was an atypical aspergillum (or the thing use to sprinkle holy water). I’m not particularly confident in that though, so let me know if you have any better guesses.

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Let’s finish off with this collection of eight seemingly brand new pairs of jeans I found in a bag near Square St-Louis. Some even had their original tags. They’re all different sizes, so I suspect that maybe their previous owner managed a clothing store. Most were made by a relatively new local brand (I won’t say which one, because it might hurt their business if someone Googles their name and finds out that someone threw out a bunch of their jeans) and a few others were Levi’s. These should sell for 5-10$ each at future yard sale.

Relevant links

1. Facebook page
2. My eBay listings
3. Etsy store
4. Kijiji listings
5. Contribute to Garbagefinds.com

Email: thingsifindinthegarbage@gmail.com. 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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