Don Rowe visits the hallowed warrens of Supertrash in Eden Terrace, only to find its owner preparing to close up shop.
Supertrash! Or is it ‘No Eft-pos’? Judging by the size of the respective signs outside it’s the latter. Judging from what’s inside it’s most certainly the former: books, a breadbox, golf clubs, blazers, ladders, a chair, another chair but this one white, more hats, lightbulbs, lamps, lampshades, crockery, a bicycle, glass bottles, art, a complete set of Encyclopedia Britannica – all arbitrarily priced and yours if you’ve got the cash. And only cash.
“I’ve never had EFTPOS,” says Dave, the owner, operator and chief hunter at Supertrash, midway through a boxed chicken lunch and a can of L&P.
“I don’t like EFTPOS, and in that respect I lose out on some sales because people don’t readily have cash. EFTPOS is the future and because I like to live in the past and my things are from the past, EFTPOS is the enemy. It’s the future, and I don’t want anything to do with the future, which is why I don’t know how to operate a computer – I’ve never learned how. I’ve never owned a cellphone. Everything is done by hand. Of course I do accounting like everyone else because it’s the law but I just choose…I probably lose a few customers.”
Do they come back with folding money, these cashless customers of the future?
“Oh of course, but probably about 50 percent get sidetracked though and they don’t come back, so that’s my loss. How long I can do that for is crucial but unclear,” says Dave.
Supertrash opened in Eden Terrace in February 2009, after Dave’s previous shop Trash Palace in Ponsonby closed down. Prior to Trash Palace he owned another store, and before that were four more. His MO has remained the same, aside from switching focus from inorganic rubbish collections to skip bins.
“I have occasionally had weird looks but I never address the issue. I just go and do it. A lot of people probably look at me with pity, ‘poor bastard he’s going through a skip, probably living on the streets’, but I go into skips because you can find some really amazing stuff. Finding things and recycling them is just what I like doing.
“But you’ve probably come at a bad time for me because if you notice my sign outside I’m closing on Sunday for nine weeks. I have to close for nine weeks, I’m not going to jail or anything like that but it’s a medical thing and it’s come at the worst possible time for me. I hope to be back after that time, but currently I’m putting a lot of stuff in Green Bay Auctions, my last load is this week, and after that I’ve got to close the shop.”
It’s the first significant stretch that Supertrash has been super-closed. Despite the denizens of Yelp decrying the erratic opening hours, Dave does his best to crack the vault six days a week, hunting for produce on the Sabbath: “Sunday is a day when people who have the skips outside their houses it’s their day off and they’re chilling out, they’re happy, so if they see someone in their skip they say ‘Yeah, go for it mate,’ they don’t come out with a baseball bat unless they’re throwing it in the bin, in which case…”
But he’s pensive and somewhat introspective on this frigid Tuesday morning.
“What is the point in keeping things?” he muses. “I have things that I’ve had for years and years that I have kept because they’re unique, but if something happened to me, like something in my current situation, there’s no point in hanging on to it, and there’s always going to be something new around the corner.
“Hopefully when, or if, I come back here I’ll keep finding more interesting things.”
The Spinoff Auckland is sponsored by Heart of the City, the business association dedicated to the growth of downtown Auckland as a vibrant centre for entertainment, retail, hospitality and business.