Given any reasonable population of LEGO enthusiasts, there will crop up stores that specialize in used bricks. We have a chain of them around these parts that go by the name: Bricks and Minifigs. Most of their business seems to come from the collectables market (that I don’t have much use for), but they also feature big tables of used bricks.
I’m working on a mosaic project that will need a fair amount of used tile, so I took the long trek out there to see how much I could mine out of their tables. As you can see, these tables are just huge dumps of unsorted and rather brutalized elements. Within those piles there are all sorts of treasures to be found and quite a few stinkers to be avoided.
Most of these arrangements involve filling a container with your finds and then paying based on the size of that container. I tend to maximize this by focusing on small elements. This serves the dual purpose of giving me more elements for my money and fueling my microscale building. The downside is that it takes a lot longer to dig carefully through each table.
I took a careful pass through each of the four tables and filled my tub just over half full. Then I made a second, faster pass and topped it up. That took me about an hour, and I’d like to say that I’m fairly quick.
When I got home, this was my tub. It isn’t very large, maybe half the size of a small Pick-A-Brick cup, for close to the same price. If I was getting bricks, this would have been a poor deal. They did have larger containers, where the price to volume ration got better, but this was all the gold I could really find.
Once I sorted out and counted my elements, I had about 428 in my tub. That brings my price per piece to just under ¢2. Not bad, considering that I squeezed in a couple larger elements and found a number of uncommon colors that should be useful at some point.
Overall, my trip didn’t yield the volume of used tile that I needed, but I still managed the get some and round it out with some other good stuff. In general, I find used tables work best when you’ve got some time to kill and just want to pick out useful and interesting elements. Trying to get things for a specific project just doesn’t work too well in most cases.
Also, I really needed to wash my hands after that.