Cleaning out the cottage? Turn these items into cash instead of trash

bulky waste in the front yard Photo By Animaflora PicsStock

As peak season winds down, you may be itching to declutter the cottage and get organized. While it’s important to refresh your space, while you’re cleaning out the cottage, you may want to take a closer look at some items that many are eager to put in the ‘junk’ pile. As Wally James of Apsley Auctions in Peterborough, Ontario knows well, some things carry surprising—and unexpected—value.

Fishing equipment

Tackle boxes, flies, poles and lures are staples that many cottagers have accumulated over the years. But be careful before piling up old lures and rods together in a donation box when you’re cleaning out the cottage . “Fishing tackle can have a really high value, and it just looks like junk to some people,” Wally James says. Depending on the condition and brand of a rod, for example, it could be in high demand. James once sold a 1912 Hardy fishing rod for more than a thousand dollars after advertising it to fish and game clubs in the U.S. Flies or lures can also have resale value, particularly to collectors.

Sporting gear

Having an old-school pair of snowshoes tacked up on the wall is popular cottage decor, and if you have a pair lying around that are still functional, they can be valuable that way, too. James says to look out for bear’s paw or trapper snowshoes, the classic woven wood style we see on display.

Handmade furniture

Furniture seems like an obvious item to sell rather than throw away when you’re cleaning out the cottage, and with the ever-increasing popularity of antique or vintage items, it’s worth it to see what you can get for that dented table or chair missing a leg. James says that pine furniture in particular can be very valuable, especially what he calls “primitive” pine furniture, meaning something handmade by a non-professional. “A lot of times people won’t recognize it because it looks shabby and worn,” he says. “But when you find something that was handcrafted, it will always have an important value.” 

Your guide to cleaning just about everything at the cottage


Although this falls into the furniture category, it deserves specific attention, since antique styles like coal-oil lamps used to be—and still are—popular in cottages for their quaint nature. Though like furniture, not all coal-oil lamps have the same allure. Aladdin lamps, a style where the flame sits in a glass casing and usually has a brass base, can be valuable, as they’re sought after by collectors. Another brand to look out for are Handel lamps, where the glass shade alone can run a high price. James says he was recently at a property where an old Handel lamp was found to be worth nearly four thousand dollars, just for the shade. Antique sellers can be a good route to finding a market for these lamps.


A feature at many cottages, canoes can hold their value well over the years, especially if they were used infrequently. They can sometimes be refurbished by sports outfitters or purchased by other cottagers looking to add to their collection. James has seen a vintage canoe from the 1960s sell for nearly seven thousand dollars; it had been hung in the rafters for most of its life and was still in mint condition. 

Old maps, magazines, and books

These are usually some of the first items to be tossed into recycling or sent for donation when people are cleaning out the cottage, but depending on the quality and condition, there is a market for collectors and decorators alike, particularly for maps. On platforms like Etsy, vintage magazines are becoming popular as gifts for people with an interest or attachment to a certain era.


Like furniture, this may seem obvious, but James says one of the first places to look for treasures in a cottage is on the wall, noting what’s on display. Some cottage owners put up art of the surrounding area or done by local artists, meaning they may sell well locally.

Collector’s items

Stamps, coins, old bills… many take their joys and hobbies with them to the cottage and end up leaving them behind. If they’re not of sentimental value, James says it’s often most worth it to sell things like silver coins for scrap metal; a Canadian silver dollar from the ‘60s, for example, goes for about $14.


James was once at a house where a woman had a table full of dishes to send to donation, and another stray box laying nearby. While everything on the table ended up going to Goodwill, the forgotten box of dishes ended up being worth about $700, largely due to the brand name. It’s a lesson in paying attention to the brand, design, and condition of the dishes, which can run a high price in antique or collectors’ circles.

Featured Video