If I said I lived in a small city you would probably have a misconception about the size of the place. While it is called a city it only has a population of around 20 000. In most places of this size it would be considered a rural town. There are some advantages and disadvantages to living in a rural place with a small population.
I’ve read of people talking about going into big city electronics stores when they were young. I didn’t get to go into one until I was in my 20’s. For a time we did have a Tandy and later another small electronics shop, but these were small and didn’t stock much, certainly not more expensive items like oscilloscopes and amateur radio gear. For me information about electronics came from magazines. Most purchases were few and far between and came by mail order from Dick Smith electronics. My memories of mail order were that I often had to order some extra things to get the order up to a minimum amount and when it was received some critical part I needed for a project was on backorder but those extra things I didn’t really need always came.
Some people remember the 70’s and 80’s electronics hobby scene as something extra special, but their experience must have been different from mine. I find the ability to get information, to obtain reasonably priced parts and share with other people so much easier now. I still had a lot of fun, but from a perspective of getting info and parts I found it harder.
Other than big electronics shops in our major cities another advantage in many Australian cities is that many have scheduled kerbside collection of large items and these can include all sorts of things including electronics items, furniture, bicycles and sporting equipment. Also, people in cities often just place things on the kerb for anyone to take. Other than a occasional cases where someone leaves something on the kerb, those don’t happen here.
Australia’s big cities also have lots of thrift stores, but I hear these are starting to charge more for items. I’ve heard that lots of the higher value items that are donated in regional areas go to the city shops where they can get a better price. I don’t know if that is true, but I can understand why that may happen.
The tip shop
Where we may have an advantage is that the waste collection facility here is only 10 – 15 minutes driving distance from anywhere in town and has a small shop. The shop known by the locals as ‘the tip show’ or ‘the dump shop’, collects items directly or are retrieved by the staff at the waste collection facility. The shop is not particularly big and it can get a bit cluttered. The staff are friendly, and the prices are excellent. They are inundated with stuff so it is priced for a fast turnaround. For me the small cost far outweighs the convenience and knowing that some locals are getting jobs. And, it’s supporting a system that is addressing the waste problem.
Going to the shop to look for something you specifically want may lead to failure, unless you are looking for plates and cups, but we still rarely leave empty handed. I’m trying to reduce the amount of stuff we have so I leave lots of things that I find tempting, but I still often buy some things. There are sometimes bits for projects.
It’s surprising just how much useful stuff would have ended up in landfill.
Things for sale
Here are a few pictures that I’ve taken. These are not all from the one visit and last time I went they were doing a massive cleanup so some of these will probably be gone now.
To give you an idea of price, we have bought a few office chairs that have been high quality and in good condition. They have ranged from AU$5 – AU$10 (about US$3 – US$6). We also bought a 2 seater lounge in good condition for AU$40 (US$25).
I haven’t bought too many things for electronics projects but I have bought speakers. I think these ones were both about AU$10 (US$6) for the set of 5. These are great when breadboarding and also for finished projects. I particularly like the black Yamaha set. Both sets below are from surround sound systems.
These are the Yamaha speakers. I really like the look of these. With the last couple of clocks I’ve made I’ve placed an external speaker socket on the clock and plugged on of these in.
The Sony ones below have a different look and are fairly good too.
I’ve also bought a few USB cables, mostly to use as a power cable for projects. I’ve bought a bunch of other things at the same time so I don’t have a price, but it would have been almost nothing.
Do you have anything like this in your area? What places do you find you get useful used things?
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