By Nick Schwarz
Springfield, Ore.- The store feels dry and dusty, the menagerie of objects decorating the shelves lie waiting for the day they are chosen, bartered over and then sent to a new home, a new shelf. Glenn Myers, a massive man with a huge handshake and baritone voice, emerges from amongst the clutter. He didn’t expect to find himself in possession of $80,000 worth of antiquated goods, but here he is.
The store is Trash and Treasures in the heart of downtown Springfield and has been run by Myers for the past six years. In the heart of the storm is Myers’ desk. A register, an antique itself, lies behind the counter next to a computer. The desktop is the only piece of modern technology to be seen.
Myers didn’t always picture himself as a wheeler and dealer of antiques. In fact he started out in life pursuing a much different profession as a printer. He worked under his father who owned a printing business and pictured himself continuing in his footsteps.
“With printing I got to create things, I’m a creative kind of guy,” he says. “I really liked what I was doing. Not to toot my own horn but I was the best at what I was doing.”
Circumstances changed though after his dad left the business. “Dad sold the company and they fired us all,” Myers says, “and at the same time my wife walked out on me and my two daughters.”
A couple of women come into the store. They are holding various pamphlets and holding a stack of stars. They identify themselves as being a part of a group raising money for cancer research. As they near the end of their speech, Myers is already reaching into the register. “Well I think I’m going to do one of those stars.”
They exchange items and the women go on their way.
“Anyway, I lost my job at the shop and spent over a year looking for work in my field,” Myers says. “Turns out I had been black balled.” The job market was bleak looking and Myers wasn’t sure what his next move should be.
A customer approaches holding two old Pepsi bottles. “There is a chip on this one, could be dangerous,” she says.
“That’s recent too,” Myers says smiling.
“I didn’t do it,” she responds.
He chuckles, “Suuuuure.”
The woman exits the store with her merchandise. “It’s for my sister’s birthday,” she says as she leaves.
The store is quiet again save for the rustling from a pair of customers near the back of the store sorting through goods.
“Nobody would hire me,” Myers continues. “So I went to school for two years.” At Lane he studied computer network operations and hoped to quickly find a job after to get himself back on his feet.
But Myers graduated only to find the market flooded with younger people who already had experience and the rest of the jobs being shipped over to India. However, going to school wasn’t a complete loss.
“The only thing I got out of college was my new wife,” He says. They met because he was doing something to better his situation and support his kids by learning a new trade, albeit one that didn’t pan out.
That’s when Myers turned to his friend who was a used goods seller himself. He began to learn how to make a profit from buying and selling used goods. It was a means to an end that schooling had not fulfilled. “It’s all just a matter of circumstance,” says Myers.
Mary Lambert and her dog Gizmo run the store when Myers takes a day off. She has known Myers for around six years, ever since he began working at the store.
“He’s just a fantastic person to work with,” says Lambert. She has seen his knowledge and understanding of the business increase over time. “I’m proud to work with him, he lets me bring this little one along,” Lambert says pointing at Gizmo.
The store is nearly empty now except for a man trying to sell his Ziploc baggie full of marbles. “Let’s put these under the black light,” Myers says. “If they glow that means they are from before 1920.”
The marbles roll around in the tray, clicking as they hit each other. Myers pays $15 for roughly 20 of them.
“I tend to have a really good knack with being able to price things,” he says. “People like the wheeling and dealing. It’s like a dance.”
Myers finds this aspect of running the store requires a certain skill. That doesn’t mean taking advantage of others who know less about what they are selling than he does.
“You gotta engage your opponent,” he says. “I don’t want to ruin a person though. There is good karma in the fact that I’ve given them a fair price.”
It’s 4 p.m. and Myers is the last one in the store. An old wooden plated radio in back plays classic rock, a suitable genre for the old electronics. He has found his niche and is content with where he is. The business provides for his family and is a welcome change from the uncertainty six years before.