Tom Davis at PocketMoney recycling in Nashville is planning to have a yard sale and dispose of his “trashy treasures” he has collected over the years.
Larry McCormack, email@example.com
I do love a treasure hunt.
The “Trashy Treasures Yard Sale” Tom Davis is having at PocketMoney Recycling features a veritable smorgasbord of oddball, interesting items he has collected over his 20 years in business.
The sale, which has a hoarders-meets-flea-market feel, is a doozy if you like quirky stuff. I found an old brass tuba that doesn’t work, old car ornaments, chandeliers, a silver-plated brass candelabra, pots and pans, brass faucets, copper kettles, cutlery, brass knobs, aluminum cookie cutters, brass bells and a brass-covered baby shoe.
The list goes on and on — and there is no extra charge for the rust or dust that distinguishes many of these pieces.
“One of a kind” is an understatement in this place, and the public is invited to shop the “trashy treasures” between now and Nov. 2.
“I was a recycler before recycling was cool,” Davis said. He is retiring and closing PocketMoney in November, hence the sale on these unusual objects he’s collected over the years.
Davis has been in the business of buying aluminum, copper and brass by the pound and reselling the metals to large recycling outfits. He estimates he has saved well over a million pounds of recyclable materials from being dumped in area landfills during his time with PocketMoney.
But the fun part — the treasure hunt that lured me over there — is that Davis, aka the “Can Man,” has almost effortlessly managed to fill his Gallatin Road plant with an incredibly eclectic collection of items that might otherwise have been destined for the dump.
His as-is “trashy treasures” collection is scattered throughout the plant. Shoppers are invited to scrounge around the dusty shelves and overloaded, cobweb-covered tabletops. Serious shoppers should also look under the tables and in the corners. Be forewarned: The search may be down and dirty.
Davis said he toyed with the idea of cleaning up the plant for the sale but opted for having it “as is” — which was smart because some bargain hunters like to dig. Plus, cleaning it up would be a monumental task.
Just some of the metal items that will be for sale are seen at PocketMoney Recycling at 2611 Gallatin Pike in Nashville. The shop is planning a yard sale to dispose of “trashy treasures” collected over the years. (Photo: Larry McCormack / The Tennessean)
Another man’s treasure
Davis doesn’t put a price on anything in the store.
“I call it ‘Godfather pricing,’ ” he said, laughing. “I just say, ‘Make me an offer!’ I’m not trying to come out a millionaire, but there is a lot of cool stuff here. I’m not crafty, but I can see there are a lot of things people could do with these things.”
He pointed out a tall stack of silk screen frames that would make good picture frames and a unique Roman numeral-stamped clock face.
“One man’s trash is another man’s treasure, for sure,” Davis said.
“I’d like to sell a lot of it, but I also want some of these things to just have a happy home,” he said.
“A lot of people collect weird things, like this old vacuum cleaner,” he said, smiling and pointing to an unlikely purchase, a 1960s Kirby vacuum stashed behind one of his recycling machines.
“A lot of these (things) are novelty items that you could put on a coffee table,” Davis said amid his bric-a-brac area featuring a cast aluminum 14-inch-long ash tray designed as a replica of the aircraft carrier Valley Forge.
He also showed off a tuning fork and a tiny brass propeller that you have to wonder what it powered.
‘What are you going to do with that?’
Some of the treasures, like the tuba and a couple of saxophones and other brass musical instruments, were items that were brought in to be recycled that Davis couldn’t bear to see melted down.
Others might have just been along for the ride with other recyclables, he said, telling the story of how he ended up with a metal and wood child’s school desk.
“Sometimes, someone would bring in a truckload of scrap and have something like that school desk on the truck. I’d ask, ‘What are you going to do with that?’ They’d say they were taking it to the dump, and I’d say, ‘Well, I’ll take it.’ “
“Me asking ‘What are you going to do with it?’ has gotten me in a lot of trouble,” he said, laughing. “I always think somebody might want it.”
Other items in Davis’ collection were gifts from customers and friends. For example, a 3-foot-tall French Provincial floor phone shares a table with hundreds of tarnished and dirty forks and spoons, a pile of brass door knobs and some hot and cold faucet pieces.
“Someone just gave me that phone. I don’t know if it works but thought it was kind of cool,” he said.
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Davis’ favorite item on hand is an aluminum 1959 Montana license plate.
“I just love this,” he said, showing off its “prison made” stamp. “But if someone makes an offer,” it could be out the door like anything else.
His daughter, Austin Davis, says the fate of the “treasures” is weighing on him. “He would rather have someone enjoy an object than for it to go to the dump.”
About the ‘Can Man’
Davis, 64, has been in the recycling business for 40 years, starting in Richmond, Virginia, with Reynolds Recycling, moving to Nashville with Reynolds in the late 1980s and opening PocketMoney 20 years ago.
“The work of recycling is a young person’s business, and it’s time for me to step back and enjoy life at a different pace,” Davis said.
He added that, as far as selling the business, “Nobody wants to do this anymore,” and noted the China tariff situation has resulted in a dramatic decline in the market for almost all categories of American recycled goods.
Davis is not sure what he will do with the leftovers from the sale, but he promised his wife they are not going to his home.
Just some of the metal items that will be for sale are seen at PocketMoney Recycling at 2611 Gallatin Pike. The shop is planning a yard sale to dispose of “trashy treasures” collected over the years. (Photo: Larry McCormack / The Tennessean)
If you go
PocketMoney Recycling is at 2611 Gallatin Pike.
It is open 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday, and 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday.
PocketMoney is still buying aluminum cans (18 cents a pound), brass (45 cents a pound) and copper (about $1 a pound) through the end of the month.
The official “Trashy Treasure Yard Sale” will open at 8 a.m. Nov. 1-2. Cash only.
Details: Call 615-226-1464 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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