Skyler Smith’s Tour of Mendon: CASH CANS

BY SKYLER, DEB & TIM SMITH
DISTRACTIBLE DAD ~ Deb warned me that Dad might be out of control on this one. She said, “To me this trip is a simple visit to the recycle center, to your Father it’s more like a trip to the zoo.” Yep, Dad is an animal lover. Trevor Kennedy and Ian Palmer, the two young men who own and operate Cash Cans, collectively own three dogs, a cat, and a pond full of coy fish. Dad’s not big on petting the fish, but he has a hard time staying away from the mammals. Deb told me that on a typical visit here Dad will carry the bags in with her and linger a few seconds creating the illusion that he is actually going to be there for the complete transaction, but the first time she looks away Dad’s gone. The good news is at least she knows where he is . . . he’s outside playing with the pets.

THE RAIN MAN? ~ Here’s one aspect of our interview that stuck in my mind. A somewhat standard question that I often ask is, “How long have you been in business?” When I posed that one to Trevor, he immediately responded, with seemingly freakish accuracy, “Two years, eight months, and thirty days.” So I’m thinking to myself, “Is this dude the freakin’ Rain Man, or what?” Turns out he’s not. Trevor goes on to explain why this is so easy for him. They opened on January 1, 2015 so no matter what the date, if you just tack it onto “two years” you’ve got it. So for example, when I went to see him on August 30th here’s what went through his head. He would think, “Today’s date in numerical form is 8/30,” which enables him to immediately ramble off the fact that he has been open “Two years, eight months and thirty days.”

PROFIT MARGIN ~ In discussing this interview, one question that Deb and Dad had shared with me before we even went, was how do these places make money? They pay you the same amount the store would pay you. And sure they could turn them all into the store and break even, but where is the profit margin? Here’s the answer. Trevor explained that there is a government subsidy in place whereby recycle centers are paid three cents a bottle if they sort the returnables into a number of various categories. Sure three cents a bottle doesn’t sound like much, especially when you’re paying for rent and employees, but Cash Cans averages 50,000 returnables a week. So if you crunch the numbers, a profit is perfectly possible.

HISTORY OF THE BUILDING ~ With some of the more established structures in the hamlet I’ve delved into the historical past of the buildings. Here’s a brief flashback on the Cash Cans building which was built around 1900. Older local residents will remember that for years this building operated under the name of “Onni’s Closet”, a unique gift shop, from 1980 into the early 2000’s.

As a young kid one of my goals is to connect the dots between past and present. If you’re a truly established Mendon resident you may recall that Onni’s Closet actually began in the small blue building on my property, five doors west of the light at the 4-corners on the south side of Rush Mendon Road.

Next week we’ll leave Cash Cans, walk one driveway south to Scheifen Plaza and visit my friend Josie at her Reflection Connection hair salon. I have a great story for you that kind of bridges the gap between Halloween and Christmas.

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