Junk becomes treasure on free ‘Goods Exchange Day’


Isabel Mosseler


Louanne Edmunds of Sturgeon Falls is gearing up for her second ‘Goods Exchange Day’ in West Nipissing, to be held this Saturday, August 19. She held a successful first event last May, and continues initiatives to promote recycling and re-using. Edmunds also administers a Garage Sale social media page in West Nipissing, with 2700 followers. The 46-year-old grandmother of two young boys wants to share her passion for diverting recyclables from the landfill, helping people declutter, and getting good used items into the hands of people who have a need.

It’s a win-win-win as far as she is concerned. Decluttering and simplifying is good for mental health, recycling keeps the mountains of waste down, and treasure hunting is fun! “Instead of throwing away unwanted items, give them away, therefore reducing waste and helping someone who could use it! Please place unwanted household items at the curbside or at the end of your driveway (such as useable furniture, clothing, books, tools, sporting goods, toys, etc.). It’s a community-wide FREE yard sale! Tour the neighbourhoods to see what goods you may find,” reads her poster. If it rains on August 19th the date will move forward to August 26th.

Edmunds speaks of her inspiration, “What happened in May, there was one going on in North Bay and there was a bunch of people looking at the possibility of Sturgeon doing one too.” She took her experience running a yard sale page and applied it. “People were messaging me if we could do it, so I reached out to the mayor to see if it was allowed. (…) So I did one in May; it was short notice, but it was really good.” Edmunds drove around during the day to see the response and found a lot of people with items in their yards. Her own yard, she said, was half full of items, and by the end of the day it was all gone. “I got some cool stuff too, so I was really happy about that,” she beams.

That event in May was for all of West Nipissing and Edmunds says she got positive feedback from outlying areas as well. Soon, people started asking if she could do another one. “I thought I would do one at the end of the summer,” just in time for the coming school year, she says. “I figured it would be good before the students go back to school…  Time to clean up.” It can be a hardship for some people to clothe and furnish their children for September; Edmunds thinks hand-me-downs are a solution.

In May, she recalls, “I had put out some winter tires. I put out an old snow blower that needed to be fixed… It was worth money, but if someone could grab it and fix it, that’s better for them than us trying to scrap it… I put out a lot of kitchen items.” On her own treasure hunt, “I found a lot of toys. I have two 3-year-old grandsons and I found quite a few cool toys. There was one… a big metal school bus …for my one grandson.” She found a little scooter for her other grandson. “Both my daughters got pregnant [around] the same time. My grandsons are two months apart.” The children love treasure hunting with their grandmother. “We had one of them with us when we went,” and spotted the big yellow school bus. “He was jumping out of his seat he was so excited!”

When her own daughters were young, Edmunds lived in North Bay. “Driving around with my mother-in-law, we’d see something that someone put on the side of the road, for free, like an old dresser… We would grab them and sand them down and refinish them and give a whole refreshed look.” The children’s rooms were furnished with those findings. “We did that often,” she says, and she has a lot of fondness for those memories.

She also has some things to say about the way we live. “I think we all have way too much stuff. Then our lives change. Four years ago, I was almost an empty-nester and we were building a gym… All of a sudden we’re grandparents! And we’re back to having kid’s stuff in the house! Right, so things change so fast, and you need different things, or you need to get rid of things to make room for new things.” She knows many people don’t want to bother with selling, so they just throw things out, but those things could easily be reused by someone else. “The marketplace for reselling things, it’s such a pain… I’m sure you’ve had experience, you’re trying selling on marketplace, you get the dumbest questions or people trying to rip you off…  it’s a pain. I’d rather just put it out so someone can grab it. I always start by asking people I know, Do you want this?” If no-one among your friends or family wants your “stuff”, putting it to the side of the road will make someone happy. “Now they have new end tables and a coffee table for free!”

Edmunds acknowledges that some people will drive around and scoop everything up to resell, admitting that “It drives me nuts!” Being philosophical about it, she asks those people to wait until later in the day, to allow others to find what they need. She refers to the winter tires she put out in May, “Those were good winter tires… but I want [them to go to] someone who can’t afford winter tires on their van, because they have kids… It’s saving them hundreds of dollars that they can’t afford right now, instead of this guy going by and grabbing them and putting 200 bucks in his pocket.” But, of course, she knows she can’t control what happens, and she doesn’t want to focus on that – she just wants to help people to help other people.

In turn, it also helps people get rid of their burdens, their unfinished projects that will never get finished – like fixing the big snowblower. After awhile a person just doesn’t want to look at it anymore. Additionally, it’s not that easy for everyone to load up a truck for a dump run. “It’s better if you can put items out there for others, especially if it’s still good [or fixable],” items like clothing and Tupperware. Edmunds repeats the old adage that “one woman’s junk is another woman’s treasure.”

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