I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but in most of the U.S. it’s normal practice to throw away a product that, if given time and elbow grease, could be worth quite a lot of money.
This is not so here in Santiago. There is a lower class, who’s time is worth little, and who are motivated to make money any way they can. They are the reason why used things are worth more here than they are up in the U.S. of A.
A great example: Bicycles.
When we were about to leave the states, we sold our bicycles.
One was sold on Craigslist for very cheap.
One was put out on the side of the road for the recycle truck to pick up.
One was given to a friend.
These were all fully functional (though low-end) bikes, with relatively little wear.
Basically, used bicycles aren’t worth much in America.
Why not? Why doesn’t Bob get a used bike on Craigslist instead of buying a new one?
Because Bob’s time is worth more than to be worth worrying about the problems that a used bike might have. There’s no one who’s willing to buy an old bike for $100 just because they know that the parts it’s made of could be sold individually for $150. It’s not worth their time.
Here in Santiago I see it working like this:
A high-income busy family impulsively buys a $500 bike for their kid. It gets very little use, and a year or two later, after it’s been collecting dust for a while, they decide to sell the bike.
They list the bike on “Yapo”, the local Craigslist, for $300, and it’s immediately purchased by a middle-class person. They commute on it for a few years, and it puts on several thousand miles and picks up a lot of wear. At this point, it’s fairly problem-ridden.
Then they sell the bike for $150 to a lower-class bike-guru who’s house is full of bike stuff. This guy processes lots of bikes, fixing them and selling them at bike-markets. He also buys stolen bikes from bike thieves.
At the bike market he sells it for $200 to another lower-class person, who uses it till it’s truly a sorry wreck.
Then he sells it to his neighbour for $60, who harvests all the parts that are still worth something, and throws the rest away.
These parts are sold at a bike-market and bring $80.
This process has been created by motivation. The lower class fills in the gaps and wrings the value out of the hand-me-downs.