Boxes, buckets, tubs and crates fill the space, all with returnable glass and aluminum bottles that 15-year-old Nick Groenink collects, sorts and returns for 10 cents each.
“(I’ve collected) probably since I was 5,” the Coopersville teen said. “I’d get them alongside the road and in the trash.“
Nick said he looks for “everything that is 10 cents.” He also collects cans at school and a campground, and he’s gone to the Berlin Raceway, Berlin Fair and other large events where there’s plenty of pop.
“Once in a while, I’ll even ride my bike,” he said. “Once, I had a person stop and give me $25 worth of cans.”
Jay Groenink, Nick’s father, said his son would sometimes travel as much as five miles on his bike and return home with dozens of cans and bottles in tow.
Nick is meticulous in how he sorts. Each box has a different store label and beverage brand, as sometimes certain cans can only be returned to certain stores. This, he said, is his big advice for people who might want to get into the returnable game.
“I have it set up so that I know where to take them,” Nick said. “If you go to different stores and see what they sell, you’ll know what to return.”
The boy has collected more than $9,000 worth of bottles and cans, and the totals continue to grow.
“One Sunday, after church, by the time we got home we had about 20 cans,” Jay said “There were some nights where he’d walk out of Meijer with $100 in his pocket.”
Jay attributes his son’s ability to a strong worth ethic.
“He just loves to work," said the boy's father, who operates Groenink’s Elevator & Hardware in Nunica.
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