There’s Cash In Trash
By Zinni Diaz
Everyone knows “May Pera sa Basura,” but only people like me can appreciate it. Those cans of soda and spam put together is worth P60 per kilo. The plastic cellophane and paper, liquor bottle, condiments bottles, shampoo bottles, broken refrigerator, computer chips, rundown gate, car ream, car batteries and even bottle shards (bubog) are worth something in a junk shop.
The program “May Pera sa Basura” is also the reason that government-owned properties are looted along with street lights, public railways and even bridges. In the recycling business, almost every scrap can be sold to a junk shop. It is trash to you but to us it’s cash.
I became aware of the “anti-fencing law.”
When I was young, I was not allowed to go outside to play with other kids because we were new in the area then. We just stayed home in our junk shop. I see my parents put bottles inside the sack or assist customers every day. Since my sister and I had nothing to do, my dad would ask us to pick up little pieces of scrap iron such as rusted nails, screws and the like, which I gladly did because I would think of myself as my dad’s customer selling the scrap iron to him.
He would weigh what I hand to him then pay me for my scrap iron per kilo. As a kid, this was how I played. My childhood was different but a lot of fun. I got to play with my dad through role-playing while earning my own money at an early age.
I remember how happy my sister was having her first barbie doll from the scrap plastic that our parents bought from our customer. We may not be rich, but we had everything in our yard including barbie dolls. The junkshop was my playground and the scrap items were my toys. Imagination is the only key.
Home decors from antique shops are aplenty in junk shops. My mom had a giant bronze tiger decor from scrap and displayed it in our house. With just a lot of cleaning, the tiger looked great. We also had a giant bronze plant pot in our stairway which with mom’s artistic hands became a nice house decor. If my mom fills up our house with items from the shop, there would be no space for us to move.
The Art of Piling Garbage
My father expressed his art in piling garbage because with a small junkshop we need to optimize the space. He would arrange things where he can count the bottles even inside the sack. Bottles should be arranged safely on a truck for delivery to our buyers.
The scrap iron should also be piled perfectly on the ground to maximize space and on a truck for it to weigh more. The same is true with tin cans and GI roofing sheets piled on trucks so they do not crash while being delivered to the buyers. Everything has a technique that takes time to master.
The junk shop business also uses strategy to prosper. Most important is how to handle people properly.
My dad trained people to do specific jobs properly. He made sure that everyone in the team had their own task to incorporate.
Handling customers well is a must. They are the life of a business so they must be treated well. The prices of the product must be well-defined. Scrap prices change always so the junkshop owner must always update the customers and the margin of the prices must be maintained.