I'm a professional scavenger making a living selling curbside garbage. This blog details my finds and sales. It also acts as an archive for things beautiful and historic that would otherwise have been destroyed.
Over the past few days I’ve spent many hours organizing my various storages. On Wednesday I worked at the space on Coloniale and brought a big load of clothes to Eva B to exchange for store credit. I got 170$, most of which I’ll probably spend on the food there which thankfully is very good overall. I also purged a few things and looked through my boxes in search of items worth auctioning. On Thursday I did more or less the same thing at the garage, this time focusing more on grouping together similar items for lots. By the time I went to the auction house on Friday I had accumulated an impressive collection of junk to sell, all of which would have probably hung around too long in my yard sale boxes otherwise. Here’s a look at what I brought them!
I found this cool hunk of wood (roughly 5×4′) in Westmount on Thursday. It’s missing some pieces but the design is quite beautiful and I figured it had value as architectural salvage.
The auctioneers agreed, or at least liked it enough to list (they don’t take just anything). Only time will tell how much it goes for! If you know anything about the style please let me know in the comments. I think it’s fairly old, and I thought the waves and flower looked a little Arts & Crafts-y.
Here’s my vintage iron lot. I haven’t had much luck selling these at yard sales (the one on top is actually from last year) and they’re not high enough on my priority list to sell on eBay. Thanks to the auction I’ll now be rid of them, and I expect they’ll go for a solid price as well.
I made a bunch of lots so let’s cover them quickly. Here’s a collection of vintage ashtrays that I grouped together in a garbage pail…
… a collection of lights & lamps (I had a few others too but forgot to take pictures);
… a collection of drawer pulls;
… a collection of new safety razors (I found these last year and was sick of looking at them);
… a small grouping of Blue Mountain Pottery;
… a large collection of old packages, containers, and tins;
… a bunch of random vintage kitchen stuff;
… four vintage ceiling lampshades;
… and a small lot of drum equipment (including two stands, a cymbal, and two other doohickies).
As for single items I brought them a nice Spanish brass chandelier I found on Friday in Westmount (one of the arms was off but it should be an easy fix);
… a never opened IKEA kids swing;
… a working portable range;
… a brass lamp and a mid-century ceramic jug I found in St Michel;
… and a bucket of pennies. I found most of these in Rosemont on Tuesday, and put them in an old Fiesta Potato Chips tin to make them more marketable. Not pictured was this Georg Jensen card organizer that never sold on eBay, the tools I found in Ville St Laurent earlier this year, and a collection of shot glasses.
I talked enough about the benefits of the auction house in my last post. However, I think it’s worth emphasizing how much work this saves me, and also how much pressure it takes off my different storage spaces. So you know, if any of these things interest you they won’t be posted until early August at the earliest as the crew is going on a two week vacation starting tomorrow. In the meantime, I’ll share my currently running auction listing numbers below.
Last week was pretty good overall. Most of my luck came in St Michel of all places – I’ll share those finds here soon enough. Next week’s looking pretty rainy for a change, which hopefully won’t get in the way of picking too much.
I didn’t plan on trying particularly hard this moving day and the sweltering heat did nothing to increase my motivation. I think it was 35 before the humidity which is way too hot in my books! Thankfully my car has air conditioning so I toured around town with the cold on full blast. I tried to think of relatively wealthy parts of town with: 1) a high number of renters and 2) less competition as compared to somewhere like the Plateau. My brain came up with the apartment buildings in TMR and Old Montreal.
Neither of those bets really paid off, though I did find a few things worth selling in TMR. I sold the brackets, towel racks, and journal at a yard sale, and a bag of change is a bag of change. I gave the canvas to a friend, and left the dishes in Park Ex where they were more likely to be picked through.
One spot in Old Montreal produced some decent stuff, including a whole bunch of jars, some of which were filled with dry goods. A friend who came for the ride got some free stuff, but I left most of the rest (including the food) on the curb for others to pick through. I’m sure it was still good to eat but I didn’t feel like dealing with it myself. Hopefully it found a good home!
I also tried looking around Griffintown but only found huge piles of actual trash. This one in particular was a bit depressing, evidence (at least to me) that many products these days are disposable junk from the day they were made.
Ironically, after travelling around so much and finding little I happened upon my best finds no more than 30 seconds from home. One of my many neighbours tossed out an array of quality stuff, including a cool lamp (which I sold for 5$ at a recent yard sale), some laundry detergent, a wooden rolling pin, a few books, several miscellaneous cables, and some unopened tea.
The crown jewels were a Focusrite guitar doohickey and a Parker fountain pen that looked to have barely (if ever) been used. Without doing much research I’d guess that these two items will make me around 100$, a nice little haul that keeps the chains of profitability moving.
Another neighbour was bringing down some junk around the same time. He wasn’t moving, but was cleaning out a storage room that was full of random stuff from previous tenants. I had to have this industrial thing despite having no idea what it was made to do (neither did he, for that matter). I did know that the auction house would take it, however, and it sold last week for 20$. Not a huge sum, but definitely better than nothing. (Oh, and apparently it’s a riveting machine of some kind).
I also picked up a bike frame with parts and a pair of lightly used mining boots that I’m sure were very expensive new.
Later that evening I went for a little walk with my roommate. We happened upon a pile not far from home that contained a bit of cool vintage stuff, the best of which were these two mid-century watches and a nearly full bottle of Ralph Lauren aftershave. I doubt the watches are worth much but the vintage aftershave should sell for a good price – I’ve had good luck with vintage RL scents recently.
I’ve found more stuff at this spot in recent weeks so the purge wasn’t actually moving day related. Regardless, my overall moving day haul was decent in spite of the heat! Let’s hope the weather next year is a little more tolerable, I would have spent more time biking around otherwise.
In recent weeks I’ve happened upon some interesting and valuable hauls in many different parts of the city. I’ll be sure to share some of those stories & finds sometime soon!
Oh, and I figured I should clarify some things about the eBay links below. I mentioned that I get a bit of money when you sign up for an account or buy things after clicking to eBay through those links, but I’m not sure that I told you that I get credit for sales no matter who you buy from. So, if you’re looking to get a newer iPhone, a gift for a friend (that I don’t have), or whatever please consider going through my site before doing so! Currently I’m making around 15$ a month through this program, which isn’t a lot of money but I do appreciate it as an extra passive source of income.
I’ve been pretty busy of late. I’ve been going on more & longer garbage runs because the weather’s been so nice, and I’ve also spent a lot of time organizing the garage and moving my junk to one half the size.
Over the past few weeks I’ve brought a tonne (maybe literally) of stuff to the local auction house that I mentioned in a recent post. I think that this development might be a game-changer in regards to how I run my little trash enterprise. I don’t have enough time in the world to do the work necessary to list and store and ship all the quality things I find on eBay, and some items are annoying or too niche to sell quickly at a yard sale. Plus, like I mentioned in my last post I find it stressful when things start piling up!
eBay is still best for maximizing my profits from certain (especially niche) doodads, trinkets, and etc. Yard sales are a great way to sell cheaper items and whatever else happens to be in storage. However, the auction house allows me to unload quality junk quickly for a reasonable amount of money, and once I drop it off I never have to think about it again!
As for results they’ve been good so far. A few things have sold for less than I had hoped, but others have sold for a fair bit more. Overall it’s been well worth it. I’m most happy with the sales of items that I considered putting back on the curb. For instance, I brought them a large collection of slides that I found last year in St Michel. I sold the ones that were of greater interest (Expo 67, African missionary photos) on eBay but most featured flora & fauna and didn’t sell even at yard sales. I considered putting them back on the curb on several occasions but I decided every time to keep them for one more go. Then, I found out that people are making lampshades from old slides and that they do well at auction. The lot ended up selling for 20$, a total I’m very satisfied with.
Another example is a collection of paper bags (mostly from Steinberg’s) I found relatively recently in Rosemont. They took up a fair bit of room and received limited interest (beyond nostalgia) at my yard sales. I brought them to auction and they sold for 14$. I have no idea what the bidders intend to do with them, but I’m just happy to have the money.
Perhaps the best part about the auction avenue is that it encourages me to take things that I might not otherwise. I remember a few years ago finding about five or six boxes full of separatist notepads, probably from the time of the second referendum. The cover said something like “all the things Canada knows about Quebec” (in French of course) and the insides were blank. Anyways, I thought they were cool but I couldn’t imagine what I’d do with five boxes, so I only took one. Now, I’d take all five and bring them to auction.
Basically I now have a third major option when it comes to selling things (the other two being online and at yard sales). Having this outlet has already changed my decision-making when it comes to dealing with my finds. I found those two cool red lights in the Plateau last Friday. Also in the bags were a plain white globe lampshade, an exacto knife with some life left in it, and this Home Depot bucket. I grouped them all together, with the red lights being the star of the show, and dropped them off at the auction house. I’ll probably get more for the lights than I would have at a yard sale (with much less effort / bartering involved), and I took a few things I might not have bothered with otherwise.
Anyways, I’ll share more auction results when I post my sales summary sometime in the next few weeks. Today I’ll share some finds from a couple of spots that were great for about two or three weeks earlier this summer.
The first spot was the one that provided these old silver pieces. I haven’t done anything with them yet, but I’ll likely list them on eBay when things pick up there again (summer tends to be slow for online sales so I focus on other work).
This lamp was slightly busted when I pulled it out of the bag, but fortunately it was easy enough to glue the broken bits back on. I was also able to recover most of the crystals, though those are fairly easy to come by. I’ve never seen a lamp quite like it, have you? It’s looks pretty old, I’d guess it was made in the 30s or 40s based on the plug and push button switch.
I saved a pretty cool flask, which if I remember right comes from somewhere in Eastern Europe.
These Cazal sunglasses were a great find. I had never heard of the brand before but apparently they’re pretty sought after. I expect these West German frames to sell for three figures.
This cool art piece emerged from its bag unscathed. The artist is Gora Mbengue, a Senegalese reverse glass painter who died in 1988. His work seems to sell in the hundreds of dollars, but I accidentally priced it at 16$ when listing it on eBay. I’m not sure how that happened, except that 16$ is what I planned on charging for shipping within Canada. Anyways, after some deliberation I decided to cancel the order knowing full well that I might get negative feedback – I just couldn’t afford or justify selling it for that little (my intended price was 200$). I think the buyer realized that the price made no sense but left bad feedback anyways, I was hoping they’d have more sympathy since they sell art themselves. Oh well, I don’t think having a bit of bad feedback really matters anyways, as long as you respond to it maturely.
I also found a bag of old photos, a lot of which seemed to come from the Middle East. Most weren’t overly exciting, but I did enjoy this series of luxurious dog photos.
These drawings were more interesting. Most date from the 50s and I’d guess that they were drawn while the artist was in the Middle East.
I was hoping to find more at this spot, given the silver haul and other interesting throwaways, but the source dried up pretty quickly.
Around the same time I had brief success at another spot nearby. One day I found some nice old frames inside the bags.
The top piece is titled “Autumn Sunset” and is signed by a H Boyer. I forget who signed the bottom one but it’s cute. The middle piece is a paint by numbers.
I found this little hand painted photograph behind the image of Jesus on the top right. The caption is “Digby Gut [a channel near the Bay of Fundy, Nova Scotia] and the Princess Helene [the ship].” I can’t make out what the signature says, it looks like “Karl Yoker” to me but I couldn’t find any reference to that name online. Any help identifying it would be appreciated!
That top piece is an old Charles Sawyer colourized photo titled “Echo Lake.” It’s only worth 20$ or so but is very attractive. I took the ship painting out the frame and found that it was signed R,W. Glass (or something close to that). Again, I couldn’t find any reference to that name online, so maybe I read it wrong.
That top piece is titled “The Harbor – Provincetown.” No mention of an artist. The middle piece is titled “Lake George” (possibly New York) and is signed by S,W. Mann, or something close to it. At the bottom is a classic print of Madonna by Raphael.
Now to the non-art finds. This Smith Corona typewriter was pretty grimy when I found it, but looked way better after a go-over with a microfiber cloth. I brought it to the auction house as part of my garage clean-up, we’ll see how it goes.
I also found a Eumig projector inside a turntable box …
… two really old, really heavy mirrors (the smaller of the two is shown);
… a vintage waste basket;
… some miscellaneous junk, which I put into a box I found nearby;
… and a great old wooden clock box, which looks to date to the late 1800s. Thankfully, the glass was still intact as well!
I remember finding some cool beakers (I think for dark room solutions) and vintage new age magazines as well, but I don’t have any pictures of those.