Scrap trading: an ‘easy and lucrative’ business, ‘yet troublesome’

Used furniture is on display at a shop in Amman in this undated photo. (Photo: Facebook/ Furniture.AMMAN11)
AMMAN — In the early hours of the morning, as the sun cuts its way through darkness, a noisy pickup truck with a megaphone voices a man wanting to buy scraps. اضافة اعلان

“Washing machines, aluminum, metals, bedroom furniture, copper, batteries, scrap for sale,” is usually the anthem of the junk merchants.   

“An easy and lucrative business,” scrap-collecting is an inherited trade that is typically passed on from one generation to the next, Mohammad Abu Arab said in an interview with Jordan News. “I started buying and selling scraps and used furniture in 1993.”

“My father was a scrap merchant, I loved this profession and do not engage in any other profession than this. I only sell furniture and antiques,” he added.   

“I finished my military service, and there was no work,” Abu Saleem, who also sells used furniture and scraps, said.

“So, I bought a car and started collecting used furniture and scraps in the early 90s. I got to know all the dealers in the market and the business began to flourish, so I started a shop… and until today, I am committed to this business.” 

For newcomers, this business comes with a few challenges that require cunning and wit. 

“I started working on collecting used furniture and scraps two years ago,” a merchant named Maher told Jordan News. “And I chose this profession because I could not find any other job.” 

“Some people are annoyed by the megaphones (installed on the vehicles roaming towns) and things can get troublesome, but what’s worse is when our cars are impounded by the police,” Maher added.

“Most used furniture and scraps are usable, and even those that are not usable, we reassemble and repair,” he explained.

Part of the job is knowing which areas to roam and how to negotiate prices. 

“We usually go to the wealthier parts of town, and these people do not ask about the price of the piece. Some do not ask about the price and give us the piece for free in exchange for us taking it away, which is a big win for us,” Zeyad Yaghe, who has been in the scrap buying business for over fifteen years, told Jordan News.

“There are licenses for scrap shops, but there are people like me who work from their cars,” he elaborated.

Zeyad explained that scraps “have no validity and are semi-damaged,” but that furniture is mostly “40% usable.”

“We take the scraps to the shops where they are collected. [They] come in small quantities, I mean 100-200 kilos, and the shop collects them. They become a big pile and weigh over 10 tons; they sell them to factories, where they are recycled.” 

“The monthly average salary of the profession is approximately 250-270, and there are no risks in this profession,” Zeyad said. “It takes a couple of days to understand the profession because it is an easy skill, because the person only needs to know from where we bring the furniture and the scraps and where we go with it.”

“Every day I spend 7-10 dinars for diesel and 7 dinars for the car rental,” he said, adding that, “During COVID-19, we did not work at all because there was a ban and we did not have a permit.”

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