Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Scrap Into Cash

You might think that all the activity on lower Chapel Street in New Haven on a fine Saturday morning is at CitySeed Farmers’ Market. But if you continue east past Fuel and the Devil’s Gear Bike Shop, you will find cars, vans, trucks, shopping carts and totebag-wielding pedestrians lined up at the entrance to Alderman-Dow Iron & Metal Co. waiting for the opportunity to turn their basement junk or salvaged metal into cash.

On the first gorgeous Saturday of the season we took our place in this line. The saga began last fall when we replaced an old and leaky aluminum storm door with an energy efficient one (for which we received a tax credit.) We had broken the door down into smaller parts so we could store it for the winter and needed to get rid of it, along with some other junk which had accumulated over the years. We didn’t have enough stuff to warrant paying for a dumpster, and we couldn’t arrange a bulk trash pick-up since this was construction debris. What to do? I looked up Scrap Metal in the Yellow Pages (these places don’t have much of a web presence), made a call, and found we could actually turn this trash into cash.

So there we were with our trusty sedan, its trunk full of stuff. Finally it was our turn to enter. We were newbies, and chaos seemed to reign. We had done some sorting of our metal by type — we had our pipes, our box of wire, our box of small parts. But we would have done better if we had sorted by what was magnetic and what was not. (Our Alderman-Dow mini magnet will help us prepare for our next visit.) A patient worker helped us sort the pieces into boxes and shopping carts (we were tying up the line). Each category was then weighed and recorded.

We watched as our stuff was divvied up once again. Clearly some items were more valuable than others. Some excellent pure aluminum door braces were carefully placed into a special spot. A few other things were tossed onto a heap of discards. If we had brought copper, we would have struck the mother lode. The boss recorded our last name, rattled off our totals and began to peel off our payment from a huge wad of bills. Our one trunk load yielded $33.

It just about paid for the tank of gas we purchased on the way home. There’s a lot more stuff where that came from. We’ll be back.

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