Tag Archives: montreal

Requiem for a garbage day

From the borough website

Recently the Plateau (the neighbourhood I live in) decided to switch up their garbage days. Beginning on February 1st garbage was picked up in the morning instead of the evening across the entire borough. The recycling days were changed, and now mostly align with one of the garbage days. Also, the garbage in one sector is now only picked up once a week.

The roll-out of these changes was totally bungled. The city put up these signs in my sector, but none of them mentioned that the collection time was changing to the morning. At least 50% of people had no idea that anything was different, and only now over a month later do most know when to put out their trash.

Regardless, I was sad about the change at first. The Plateau trash day had been a regular route of mine since I moved to Montreal around 7 years ago. The garbage in most of the borough was picked up starting at 7pm, and I very much enjoyed (especially on a sunny summer day) casually going for a walk or bike ride in the late afternoon to see what I could find. At first it was just a fun hobby, but these garbage days are also what inspired me to think of scavenging less as a pastime and more like a potential business.

I also liked that there was little competition for these times slots on my schedule. Most trash in Montreal is collected in the mornings, and other than a few sectors of Rosemont and Hochelaga (which are a fair bit further) I can’t think of any other evening collections. The Plateau now has to compete for my time with other neighbourhoods, and that makes the route feel a little more like actual work – especially since I’ll have to go out either really early or really late to get it done.

However, over time I’ve come to appreciate the change. My days are now a lot easier to plan, and I have more time for rest because I won’t feel tempted to go garbaging. I’ll have more time to play pickup softball at a nearby park, which should benefit my fitness and social life. The transition from two garbage days a week to one means that I get a bit more bang for my buck every time I go out, and that’s always a good thing. I also think that I’ll have a little less competition for the same garbage – most “normal” people won’t be interested in looking at trash that late at night or that early in the morning.

So, I’m happy with the change overall. I think I’ll always have a bit of nostalgia thinking about those evening runs, but I feel that the switch just makes things easier for me from a time management perspective. I can always make the occasional trip to Rosemont or Hochelaga for their evening garbage day when I feel like doing a bit extra.

Anyways, I realize that there’s probably few people in the world who care about the garbage collection schedule as much as I do, so let’s get to some actual finds!

It was a pretty slow week overall, but my first run on Monday morning was a good one.

I’ve been finding interesting trash in front of a nearby apartment building for the past couple months. I’m guessing that someone’s slowly clearing out one of the apartments. Much of what’s been thrown out has been total junk, including bags of worn-out clothes and shoes, but once in a while some decent stuff (including the first group photos from this post) pops up.

This small collection of jewelry has definitely been my best haul from this spot so far. Most of the pieces aren’t too exciting, but two are worth a further look. Can you spot them?

The brooch on the left is made by Florenza, a now defunct brand that seems to have a decent following on eBay. I think it’ll sell for between 25-50$, though I listed it for a bit more just to be safe.

The bracelet, which I polished before taking this shot is marked Levin Sterling.

That means it was made by Ed Levin, a noted mid-century designer. His stuff goes for decent prices on eBay, and I think this bracelet will eventually sell for 100$. Not bad!

Later in the week I found two vintage film cameras at the same spot. I have no idea how to test them, but they’ll still go for an easy 5$ at a future yard sale. Hopefully that apartment produces more stuff like this, and less old clothes going forward!

My Monday morning run also produced a somewhat broken Nexus 5 cell phone, a sealed copy of Lightroom 4, and some small change. I was able to sell the phone pretty quickly for around 50$ – I grouped it with another Nexus 5 that I found in much worse condition. I always like finding cell phones, because at the very least by saving them I ensure that the valuable and often toxic metals inside don’t go to landfill. I expect this one will get fixed up and resold, given its good cosmetic condition, and that’s an even better outcome.

The weather, and my luck turned cold later in the week. These were the last things of note that I found. I had to dig through some kind of gross stuff to get them, but oh well. The best piece was that Mexican silver chain second from the right; I sold it for 10$ to one of my readers not long after finding it. Better than nothing!

Otherwise, I used up a bunch of last week’s peppers in a chili. The ones I couldn’t use I cut up and froze, as was suggested by a few readers. Thanks for the tip! I think I’m set for peppers for the next little while. Oh, and the Tupperware containers I found a few weeks back came in very handy.

Over the last week I’ve received around 150$ in early contributions to my car fund. I wasn’t expecting to receive anything so soon so thanks for the support! It makes me more optimistic that my campaign could be successful. I do think I’ll go with IndieGoGo, in large part due to their flexible funding option. It’s also more fun when you’re able to track the progress of the campaign on a day-to-day basis.

I’ll have to figure out how to make a good video, and what to say in it. I really don’t enjoy seeing myself in video form but I don’t think I’m alone in that sentiment. I’m sure I can come up with something decent. Anyways, I’ll definitely let you know when it’s all ready!

This week hasn’t been too exciting thus far. I went out on Monday without much luck, and took Tuesday off because of some freezing rain. Here’s hoping I find some good stuff in the next few days.

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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Parker 51

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In my last post I said I was saving my best find for later. In the end it wasn’t so conclusively my best find, though it was still a very good one regardless.

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Basically, I opened up one of those bags and found a MacBook Pro and an older Macbook.

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At first I thought the MacBook Pro would earn me an easy couple hundred bucks. It looked clean, and other than a busted screen looked to be in good condition. However, the value of the MacBook Pro depends greatly on how old it is. This one was made in mid-2008, and to be honest I didn’t know Apple made MBPs before 2009. Apparently they made them even further back, starting in 2006, but those ones are more obviously older.

Despite it being older than I expected, the MBP still had some value. I listed it “for parts or repair” on eBay and it sold quickly for 125$.

The old MacBook didn’t have a hard drive, and may have had other issues that I couldn’t test. I had another old MacBook sitting around, so I listed the two as a lot. They sold pretty quickly for 85$. Overall, the two computers together earned me around 165$. Not bad!

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I’ve had some success recently in the traditionally working-class areas of Montreal. I happened upon this collection of bags in Rosemont, the sector east of Iberville.

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I got excited when I looked in the box at the end of the mass and saw a vintage IBM Model M keyboard. I love old tech because it makes me nostalgic, but it’s also true that mechanical keyboards often command good prices on eBay.

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This one was in fantastic cosmetic condition, and with a little cleaning it looked even better. The keyboard also worked great, which might be more important. I listed it at 200$, which is a bit high as compared to similar keyboards but I figured I’d try for a top dollar price – I can always lower it later. I had a hard time finding other French mechanical keyboards on eBay, so I wonder if that might make it more desirable to some. We’ll see how it goes, but it’s a nice find even if it sells for “just” 150$.

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Otherwise, I looked through all the bags and saved a whole bunch of junk. My household was a little short on Tupperware before this, but we definitely aren’t now! If anyone knows what that leather thing at the middle bottom is supposed to be let us know in the comments. It looks like it’s made to be hung from something.

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I found a lot of small things too. These were my favourites, though some other cool photo-worthy stuff didn’t get documented because I was busy at the time. The flashlight was the most useful find, as it’s a bit smaller than most and thus quite suitable for bringing on future trash runs. The wind-up clock works fine. In the pill bottle was a bunch of push-back earring pieces and three small elephants, two of which are plastic and one of which is older and probably made from bone or ivory. If you know what that old metal comb at top-right is let me know. It’s marked “Clauberg & Sons” but I can’t find any similar things online. I think it’s way too intense to be made for human hair.

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The best piece of that bunch was probably this old Stanley carpenter’s rule. I’d bet that it was made sometime between the 20s and 40s. Old tools can be pretty collectible, and I think that I could sell this rule on eBay for around 40$ + shipping. It’s in great condition for its age.

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My mom was in town last weekend and we had a nice visit. I dropped her off at the bus station on Monday, and on the way home happened upon this trash in the Plateau. It was pretty cold out, but I spent a good 30-45 minutes searching through these bags anyways.

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I saved a bunch of stuff, including four black bags full of old clothes and fabrics. I didn’t have the time or motivation to look at them much, as clothes aren’t really my thing (especially when I have to look through them in the cold) but I took a chance anyways. They looked decent, and I figured I could examine them further when the weather warmed up a bit. For now, they’re stashed at my storage spot. I’m not expecting any Chanel coats, but I saw a few hand-knit things that might appeal to a certain demographic, and some vintage stuff that might be desirable if in good shape.

For the record, because of bedbugs I’m pretty careful when it comes to taking garbage clothes, especially from somewhere like the Plateau where infestations are more common. However, I didn’t get a bedbug vibe from this place, and even if I were wrong the cold would kill any potential bugs before spring. There are benefits to the Canadian winter!

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I saved a few tins that were stuffed mostly with sewing brac-a-brac. We’ll see if anyone at a yard sale wants it.

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This is the “best of” from that pile, basically the things that caught my eye. I found three utensils in a Laura Secord box that I think are solid silver (they have markings I can’t make out, and I tested them with acid which seemed to indicate a strong silver content), a Superman belt buckle, a collection of thimbles, a small silver Notre-Dame-du-Cap pendant, and two vintage Parker Pens.

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The pens were in nice condition for their age. The more valuable of the two was a blue Parker 51 with a gold-filled cap. This model seems to be a classic of sorts, and while its value is a bit lower because the previous owners name is inscribed on the barrel I still expect it to sell for around 70-80$ + shipping. The other was a Parker 21, which isn’t quite as desirable but still worth somewhere between 25-30$ in its present condition.

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I found a bit more neat stuff last week, but I’ll wait until it gets warmer before documenting it. It just sucks to sort through stuff at my storage right now. One notable item though was this repoussé silver picture frame I found in CDN. It’s marked “Lisham Art 925” (you can see this at the bottom right corner). It features a relief of Jerusalem and the Wailing Wall, as well as some Hebrew phrases that I don’t understand. If anyone can help me translate them I’d appreciate it!

I looked it up and found a similar one that sold on shopgoodwill.com for 201 US$. That listing made it sound as if the frame was pure silver, but my frame (which I assume was made in a similar way) is actually a layer of silver on top of a resin mould. I wonder if that influenced the eventual selling price. I listed mine at 250$ CAD (which is less than 201 USD). I’m not confident at all that it will sell at that price, but I figured I’d give it a try anyways.

Next week should be warmer, but there’s plenty of snow on the way. Hopefully I can find some good trash regardless.

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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Best of 2016!

I’ve been a full-time trash picker for four years now, though only in the last two has the endeavor been reasonably profitable.

2016 started off with a bang, but my luck turned sour starting around June and an encounter with the police made things even worse. I’m now reflecting on my future and considering what to do next. Still, I’ll always trash pick even if I change professions or focus on a new project, I just won’t do it quite as often. “Things I find in the garbage” will likely continue to be the most frequently updated trash picking blog out there in 2017.

Otherwise, 2016 saw me continue to improve my selling skills. I professionalized my business by finding a decent laser printer, allowing me to finally start printing my eBay labels, by buying a light box which makes photography much easier, and by generally continuing to fine-tune the listing process. These tools and skills should come in handy going forward.

Despite it feeling a bit like a down year in some ways, 2016s “best of” compares favourably to that of 2015 and is definitely superior to the best of 2014. So enough talk, let’s get to it!

Top three useful finds

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#3. Furniture for storing my crap.

Early in the year someone clearing out a house allowed me into their home to check out some free furniture. He seemed like a nice guy who just wanted to be done with it all. I ended up taking this credenza, which turned out to be a mid-century piece made by Drexel. While it’s not in perfect condition the credenza is still very nice and quite useful, as the top middle drawer is great for holding various garbage-related tools. More recently I found a dresser and a filing cabinet, both of which also had a mid-century look. These pieces are now loaded with eBay junk.

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#2. Bluetooth speaker.

I’ve been wanting one of these for a while! I don’t have much space to work with so I like how it doesn’t clutter up my room with wires. These go for around 100$, making it a pretty nice get. I found it not long ago while biking around the Mile End.

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#1. Laser printer.

I have a long standing hatred of printers, but I took a chance on this one and it’s worked pretty well thus far. I rate it as the most useful find of the year in large part because I didn’t realize how much better shipping rates were through Paypal. I always figured it wouldn’t make much of a difference, but now I feel silly that I spent so many years writing out labels. It’s sometimes a dollar or more cheaper, and that’s just extra money in my pocket. On top of that, laser printers are just a lot more cost effective as compared to inkjets.

Top decoration

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#1. Shell chandelier.

After years of trash picking I’m pretty much set for home decor stuff. However, this chandelier made from circular bits of shell was a great find. It was in pieces when I found it, but I spent a few hours putting it back together and now it looks awesome. It really brings the room together.

Top four oddities

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#4. Cutout of some guy

Who is he? I have no idea. I even asked Reddit but they didn’t know either. If you happen to know who this guy is, let me know in the comments! He’s currently a decoration in my room.

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#3. Vintage Valium

Valium doesn’t exist anymore, at least by that name, so this was a neat find. The drug was at its peak popularity during the Carter administration, and definitely had an impact on the culture of the time.

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#2. Collection of vintage UFO literature

I enjoy finding things related to niche interests or fringe beliefs, and this year I made first contact with the UFO / conspiracy subculture. Many of the pieces were book lists from the 60s and 70s published by Gray Barker, the guy who pretty much invented the concept of the “Men in Black” but looks to have been a skeptic in his private life. I sold this lot for 55$, but in retrospect I think I might have been able to get a bit more for it. There’s a very healthy market for old UFO stuff. I found this collection in Rosemont back in July.

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#1. Collection of far-right / fascist / racist / skinhead literature

Speaking of fringe beliefs, 2016 saw the first time I ever came across anything that was overtly and unapologetically racist. This stuff came from the same house as the UFO lit; that guy was into definitely into some next ideas. Most of the literature dated from between the early 80s and late 90s and was distributed by different organizations in Quebec, France, and Belgium. I listed it on eBay hoping to find a buyer who was interested in researching the different movements but I haven’t had any luck thus far. I found a lot more besides this first haul, but I figured I’d shared enough already.

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Honorable mentions

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2016 was a great year for finding Apple products. I made hundreds of dollars selling several iPods, three iPads, and a mostly functional MacBook Pro. I hope the trend continues in 2017!

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Junk from “The Muck”

One of my favourite spots of the year was actually in Ahunstic, where I happened upon an intriguing pile (post one, post two, post three) on my way home from Ville St Laurent. I went back to the same spot for several weeks and collected many, mostly small items, including a bit of gold and one of my favourite finds of the year. However, sorting through the stuff on the curb was challenging at times because for every cool thing there were ten that were ruined or just plain junk. Let’s just say I’m glad I got my tetanus booster not long before stopping there. I thought of the spot as “The Muck,” in reference to the c.1920s union application card that I found there that first time. The part of Ahuntsic that produced this stuff was distinctly lower middle class, so this is a good reminder that cool trash can come from just about anywhere.

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Vintage postcard collection

I saved about 2-300 postcards from a recycling bin way back in May. Most dated from between the 1930s and 1950s. None were particularly valuable on their own (I think the most valuable were a pair of old Chinese postcards that went for 40$) but altogether they made me a couple hundred bucks. I learned a lot about the postcard market by selling them, and maybe that knowledge will come in handy in the future.

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Robert Sonneman floor lamp

This mid-century lamp was a nice get. It was designed by a guy named Robert Sonneman and similar lamps are listed on 1stDibs for 1000$ each or more. I doubt I’ll get that much but I’m sure this lamp will make me a bit of money eventually. It’s in pretty good condition overall, but I have yet to clean up the cast-iron base which is a bit rusty. I figure it’ll sell for more if I can get that cast iron looking black again.

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WWI group photo

This photo, which is likely over 100 years old, was hidden behind a picture of Brother Andre that looked to have been clipped from a magazine. It’s a neat piece of history, and it ended up selling to a local collector for 83$. That was more than I expected!

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WWII letters and ephemera

I found these way back in January. I remember the homeowner coming out and telling me not to pick there, but I already had some cool stuff in the car including these bags of letters. Here’s hoping I didn’t miss out on anything good. I haven’t actually spent much time looking at the letters, but my mom read some of them and said that there were two authors, one of which was actually a pretty good writer. It might be interesting to do something with them at some point. My favourite pieces were the Military ID cards, especially the one below. I haven’t been able to find a card quite like it online.

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Top 10 finds of 2016

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#10. Vintage fashion magazine collection

These magazines filled two document boxes. Most were Vogues or Harper’s Bazaars that dated from between the 50s and 70s. Some were individually valuable, such as the issues of Harper’s Bazaar featuring drawings by Andy Warhol or the ones with Audrey Hepburn on the cover, but most were in poor enough condition that they were best sold for collage. Fortunately, I have a friend here who does just that. Apparently fashion magazines from this era are the best to collage with because of their high print quality. I’ve made a few hundred dollars off them already, and I still have some left to sell.

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#9. Vintage pen collection

The most valuable of the bunch was a vintage Sheaffer PFM (“Pen for Men” – above) that sold for 175$, but there was also a nice Sheaffer Imperial and a desk pen with a 14k gold nib, not to mention several other yard saleable pens and vintage pencils. All in all the collection should net me a few hundred dollars.

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#8. Vintage Longines gold watch

It seems like I find a couple gold watches a year. I hope that keeps up because they’re easy money! Longines is a good brand, and was pretty well regarded back in the day according to posters on watch collector message boards. It hasn’t sold yet, but I recently uploaded a better picture (thanks light box!) so maybe it’ll head on its way soon enough.

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#7. Vintage Heinz soup sign

This sign came off a vintage “electric soup kitchen” that was designed to heat a can of soup in 2 minutes. These machines were made in the 30s and 40s but there’s not too many kicking around anymore. It’s a neat piece of history, one that ended up netting me 270$ on eBay.

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#6. Vintage pennant collection

I saved a whole bunch of neat pennants, most of which featured various Canadian towns, but these WWI era military pennants were the coolest and most valuable. The Valcartier pennant ended up selling for 160$, while the 40th Battallion pennant sold for 110$. Most of the others went to the yard sale bin, but one from Lowell High School (Jack Kerouac’s alma mater) went for another 30$ on eBay.

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#5. Omega watch

My first and finest gold watch of the year. Omega is a luxury brand, so while the watch wasn’t in perfect condition it was a worthwhile project to a handy watch collector. The movement itself worked well, and it ended up going for almost 500$ on eBay.

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#4. 2012 MacBook Pro, 15″

This was easily my best find from McGill’s moveout day. It’s hard to believe that someone would throw it out as it’s easily worth several hundred dollars. It works fine – in fact, I’m using it right now. Here’s hoping I have similar luck in the ghetto again next year, though I’m not holding my breath. Lots of great stuff gets tossed on moveout day but not many people throw out awesome laptops. That requires a special, and hopefully uncommon brand of privilege.

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#3. Widdicomb chair

It might not look like much, but apparently this chair is pretty exciting if you’re really into mid-century modern furniture. It was designed by George Nakashima as part of his “Origins” line. It needed reupholstering, but it still sold quickly for around 950$ Canadian dollars.

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#2. Perfume collection

This was definitely the most perfume I ever found in one spot. These weren’t cheap perfumes either – most were made by well respected brands such as Guerlain, Christian Dior, Yves St Laurent, and Balenciaga. I had to work for them though, as the perfumes in this box were spread across several black trash bags and were mixed in with cosmetics that don’t age nearly as well. I’ve already made several hundred dollars from this collection, and I’ll probably earn well over a thousand when all is said and done.

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#1. Henri Bourassa 1908 election badge

It took me a while to decide, but I think this election badge was my favourite find of the year. It’s certainly an interesting piece. Henri Bourassa is an important figure in the history of Quebec, being one of the first to promote a brand of French-Canadian nationalism (though not separatism, which would emerge later). He founded the newspaper Le Devoir, which still exists today, and there’s a pretty major road named after him in the north of Montreal. He somehow managed to personally win two different ridings in that 1908 provincial election. I don’t think that’s even possible any more.

The pin also appear to be pretty rare – I couldn’t find anything like it on Google. Maybe there’s a few others kicking around out there somewhere, but it’s very cool to save something so uncommon. The fact that this photo comes up when you do research on Henri Bourassa makes me think that I’ve contributed, if only slightly to humanity’s wealth of knowledge.

As the coolest thing I found from “The Muck” it reminds me that, while rich people’s garbage is pretty good, common folk can have pretty cool stuff too. This kind of thing acts as inspiration to keep me doing my bike trash runs in the Plateau and Mile End. Even though I often won’t find much of anything, sometimes I do get pretty lucky.

Of course, I also like that it made me some money. It eventually sold for 350$, which is a lot for a button!

Let’s hope my finds in 2017 can at least hold a candle to these!

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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