cover image Secondhand: Travels in the New Global Garage Sale

Secondhand: Travels in the New Global Garage Sale

Adam Minter. Bloomsbury, $28 (304p) ISBN 978-1-63557-010-6

Starting at what many people would consider the end of the story, when it’s time to dispose of possessions that are unwanted, unused, or broken, business journalist Minter (Junkyard Planet) takes readers on a surprisingly jaunty trip through the global market for secondhand goods. Starting at a storage unit in the Minneapolis suburbs and winding up in Ghana’s Golden Jubilee Terminal, a major import crossroads, with stops in Japan, India, and Malaysia along the way, Minter introduces a colorful cast of characters, such as 41-year-old “Shoe Guy,” a (self-declared) 35-year veteran of the U.S.-Mexico trade in used goods, and Robin Ingenthron, a Vermont entrepreneur who exports computer monitors from the U.S. to the developing world. Largely a portrait of an industry in decline due to items such as clothing becoming cheaper and less durable and higher ticket electronics being developed to insure that they are difficult to repair, Minter’s book reveals an economy hampered by an increasing overabundance of supply (“The things I value, I quickly realized, generally aren’t valuable to anyone but me”). This is a fascinating, eye-opening look at a dynamic, largely unseen world that only starts when one drops off something at a thrift store. Agent: Wendy Sherman, Wendy Sherman Associates. (Nov.)