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.
(FYI, I started this post a month or so ago, will leave what I wrote and add a bit of newer info at the end).
The garbage has continued to be just okay overall, though it’s good to remember that today’s okay is yesterday’s (as in, when I started this blog) “omg.” I’m still picking up enough to keep the ball rolling, and thankfully I now have a few different people I trust selling stuff for me. I don’t feel motivated to flip my own trash these days, maybe because it’s never been easier to have someone else do it for me. And why not? It saves me a lot of effort, and sometimes they do a better job that I ever could, especially in niches I’m not very good at (ie: clothing). So the money has been consistent, even if I haven’t found much gold, literally or metaphorically.
The brain is still pretty foggy and it’s hard to jump-start it. I’m trying a new medication called Trintellix but it’ll be a couple more weeks at least before I know if it’s actually working.
The spot above was a two hit wonder. Maybe if I had gone down that street a little sooner I would have found more… Anyways, that first day I picked up a bunch of worldly items in good condition, including a couple nice pieces of Tonala (Mexican) pottery, some quality brass tchotchkes, and several miniature houses that I’d guess were bought in Spain or Morocco. A lot of this was sold on my new Instagram account, @garbagefindssells, and others went to the yard sale pile.
More recent news & notes:
Trintillix sucks so far. I’m losing interest in trying pharmaceutical anti-depressants, they have done little to help so far (and I’ve tried about seven now?). But I’ll talk to my doctor any see what happens…
The flow of garbage has also been mediocre, at least until last week. It was probably my first “very good” stretch for a while. Hopefully it keeps up, this job is more fun when I find things. Hopefully I can get my brain into actually posting some of that stuff here.
WordPress has changed up their format and so far I hate it. If anyone knows a way to use the old platform, let me know. In the meantime, forgive me if certain things don’t work like they usually do (ie: you can’t seem to click on the pictures to zoom in, so if you want a closer look you’ll have to zoom in using your browser – usually CTRL & the + sign).
My brain hasn’t been in writing mode recently, perhaps in part because I’ve been focused on the search for a new car. I finally bought one yesterday, another Hyundai Accent, a little newer (2011 instead of 2007). It has a sunroof, a working CD player, and an auxiliary cable so I could use an iPod if I wanted. We’ll see how it goes, but I feel like I got a good deal. I’m mostly glad the car buying process is over, it’s a real pain in the arse.
After driving a bigger car (a rental, 2021 Hyundai Kona) I’m thankful to be getting into the spacious subcompact class again. When driving around this city, it’s nice to be small and maneuverable, especially when you’re looking for trash. I plan on getting a roof rack, so that I can maybe stash a bit of extra junk up there if necessary. But more often than not, I focus on smaller things and rarely wish I had more space.
This spot provided gold cufflinks and that 1000$ Lusitania nutcracker late last year. I didn’t see much after that, however. One day I picked up a nice 1950s CCM bike which was an easy sell, and then there was this little haul.
It was someone’s old collection of flag, pennants and patches, some of which seem to date back to WWII. Those CFB Trenton pennants are pretty cool and generally do well on eBay. The little flags are the bottom left look Scottish; this guy seems to have been a proud Scot. According to this obituary from 1969 (there’s not a heck of a lot of information out there otherwise), Camp Laclouwhi operated near Joliette, QC until 1952 after which it was bought by Scouts Canada and became Camp Jackson Dodds.
I suspect some of these patches date back to the war. If anyone knows a bit of their history, please share your wisdom in the comments! Some cool designs regardless.
And finally, my most striking find was this small Nazi pennant, which I’d guess was made to go on a car. I’d guess that this fella, who seemed to have had an interest in history, got it from someone who served overseas. I can understand why someone might want to throw this out, but I’m a “those who forget the past are doomed to repeat it” kinda guy.
Regardless, a week or two after this haul I saw an ad for an estate sale at this location. I wish I could have gone, as there was probably a lot of interesting stuff, but I think it was my last chance for garage sales that same weekend (this was in October I believe). All in all, a lot of stuff got tossed that could have easily made some extra money at the sale, but sometimes families do some sorting themselves before calling on the experts. After all, there’s always some “old junk” kicking around that surely no one will buy! Or, they try to deal with the things themselves, then get overwhelmed and call a liquidator.
This spot was a consistent if not always particularly exciting producer this summer.
Over the course of around a month the recycling bin was often filled with tools. Those aren’t recyclable of course, but I’ve seen worse attempts at recycling over the years. On this day I saved a couple of saws, a 4-guage booster cable, and probably some more stuff from underneath all that. Nothing overly exciting, but most was still useful and made for a few easy lots at the auction house.
Also auction-worthy were these straight razors, which I think sold somewhere in the 30$ range (some had chipped blades). This person owned a number of sharp objects, as you’ll see.
I also found a number of pencil leads, including a little metal pencil lead holder which you can see on the bottom right. I made an auction lot of leads & pen ink, as well as a lot of pocket knives (I always have a few kicking around).
My goal was to bring as much to the auction as possible before Christmas so as to open up space in the garage. I keep wanting to reorganize it, but it’s been a challenge because I keep picking up new things! I’ve been working on some new strategies though, which I’ll discuss later.
A few bits and bobs. The brass Gillette razor blade holder went into a shaving accessory lot. Those seem to do well at the auction.
This guy didn’t look like much when I picked him up. He went into the yard sale bin, and I only got looking at it more when it was a little slow at the next sale. After inflating it I realized it was cool and worth trying to sell on eBay. It was made as a promotion for the Atlanta Flames, a hockey team I never even knew existed. They moved to Calgary in 1981. Anyways, it ended up selling for 100$ to someone very excited to have it. It’s always nice when the buyer is excited to find your wares.
There weren’t any photos here, but I did find an interesting collection of old negatives.
Several feature a well attended boxing match that I’m guessing took place in Montreal. I’m wondering if the fight was in the old Forum, which apparently used to host a lot of boxing events back in the day. The windows kind of look like the ones in the picture on the second link, but I can’t be sure. If you know anything about this, please let us know in the comments!
Here’s a couple of miscellaneous finds – a clay lamp and a Canuck pottery piggy bank.
The last pile here might have been the best of all (as it sometimes is). One bag held a collection of pennies worth around 35$. I also remember picking up some decent cleaning supplies, and miscellaneous yard saleable junk.
I didn’t notice these knives until later, again when I had a yard sale. I was setting up with my helper and he asked if I meant to sell them, and I hadn’t even seen them! My guess is that they were underneath in the bag with the pennies. Anyways, the ones on the ends went into my auction knife lot, and the second from the left seems like a nice tourist thing but nothing too special. The other two stand out, and you can see more details below. The knife second from the right seems to have a handle made from horn that features the Lebanese flag.
The middle knife is likely the fanciest. The handle looks to be a mix of horn, bone or ivory and silver, with two rough rubies and a pearl (as well as a fake pearl, which I think was glued in after the other fell out) as extra decoration. The sheath appears to be silver and my acid test agrees. I’d guess that’s it’s a little below sterling in terms of parts per thousand, maybe 875. The blade is pretty strong, and is signed and dated 1955 (?) near the base. This one’s a good size too, about 10.5″ long.
I guess “dagger” is a better term for these than “knife,” and I think they have a specific Arabic name though I haven’t been able to pin that down yet. As for value, I’ve barely researched them so I have no idea. Either way, I think they’ll end up being a nice get!
Otherwise, on January 2nd (after the only real snowstorm so far this year) I dug my car out of the snowbank, escaped to the road, and then stopped for a moment in the right lane while I put back the shovel and locked the door, as you often do after a storm. I figured it’d be safe for a minute in what was ideal driving weather on one of the lowest traffic days of the year during a pandemic, but apparently not. As I was walking back to the car, I heard a crash and knew it had something to do with Booger (I was walking around the snowbank at that moment, so I wasn’t facing towards the car – if I were 10 seconds further in time, I might have been where the car was hit).
The driver seems to have swerved into my back wheel, denting the heck out of it, bumped my fender a little, mostly avoided the rest of my driver’s side, and then hit my front wheel. That rim is also dented, but the tire stayed inflated at least, though the wheel looks a little too “forward.” The driver’s car looked a lot worse, his axle or whatever broke right off the wheel. I don’t think he was driving that fast, because I probably would have noticed if someone was speeding.
Anyways, someone called the cops to the scene, and they ended up arresting the guy for impaired driving. He did seem “out of it” to me, which at first I figured was shock but later thought it was something else given that the accident wasn’t “that” bad. Anyways, that’s good news for me at least, because it means that he’s considered 100% at fault and the damages are covered by his insurance despite the fact that I only have one-way. Right now Booger (the car’s name, because its shape and colour is reminiscent of one in the nicest way possible) is in insurance purgatory, but I’m hoping I can get it back soon enough.
I’ve been driving a rental, which should be covered by insurance as well. It’s new, and has some cool features like heated seats. It’s bigger, which can be nice, but it’s also a bit annoying because Booger is a lot more maneuverable & easy to park due to its small stature, which often comes in handy while trash picking. People often ask me if I’ve thought about buying a bigger car, and I’ve resisted in large part because I’ve had Booger for a really long time and I’m hopelessly nostalgic. But the small size does have some benefits, and rarely do I find myself desperately wishing I had a bigger car. After all, if something’s too big to fit into Booger, I probably shouldn’t lift it by myself anyways. So, all that to say we’ll see how it goes, and hopefully Booger survived the experience without much hidden damage.
Otherwise x2, I came up with another idea to get rid of more stuff: start an Instagram account for selling, and find someone to run it on commission. I needed to find someone who’d enjoy the work, was good at dealing with people, and liked junk. The first person who came to mind was someone who used to work with a friend of mine, helped out at a local vintage shop, and came to most of my yard sales. I contacted her and she was very much into the idea. She’s done an unbelievably good job thus far, helping me unload my “quality junk” at a pace I didn’t think was possible despite her having a full-time job. And she seems to be having fun, which I think is important.
Anyways, it seems to be a strategy that works and helps me avoid the stress associated with being responsible for too many items, which is probably my least favourite part of picking. You can follow the new Instagram account @garbagefindssells, and my normal Instagram account @garbagefinds if you aren’t already. The new Insta account also features stuff that likely wouldn’t make the blog otherwise, so if you’re jonesing for more trash it’s worth keeping an eye on just for the pictures. I have the feeling 2021 will be a marquee year from a business perspective, even with the car accident to start it.
I have lots more to show you. Hopefully I can get my brain in gear again sooner rather than later.