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Messages
10,773
Location
My mother's basement
We like vintage stuff. We play Show & Tell with it. We show the stuff we found online and the stuff we scored at thrift stores and garage sales, etc. It’s fun. We get a sort of vicarious thrill from it, seeing that that cool old stuff still exists and is now in the care of a person who appreciates it as much as we do.

So how about the stuff scored free? I look around me here and I see stuff I got good deals on and things I might have paid too much for and more than a few things I got free.

How about you? And what are your tips for finding the free stuff? (Honorably, please. This is in no way advocating larceny.) I have a couple such tips, if anyone’s interested.
 
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Woodtroll

One Too Many
Messages
1,242
Location
Mtns. of SW Virginia
I'm a born cheapskate (maybe due to my strong Scots heritage ;) ), so I'm always interested in honorable ways to get free stuff that fits my interests. I'd like to hear your tips, if you'd care to share.
 
Messages
10,773
Location
My mother's basement
I'm a born cheapskate (maybe due to my strong Scots heritage ;) ), so I'm always interested in honorable ways to get free stuff that fits my interests. I'd like to hear your tips, if you'd care to share.
Some people just want stuff out of their lives, for whatever reason. (Divorce, death in the family, it no longer suits their style, they never liked it in the first place, etc.) And whatever money they might get for it isn’t worth haggling over, not for them, anyway.

I’ve been there myself. I’ve put stuff out at the curb with a “FREE” sign taped to it. I might have gotten some scratch from it, but I determined that whatever that amount might have been just wasn’t worth the hassle of listing it and taking messages and arranging meeting times and then getting lowball offers. No thanks. It’s free. If you want it, take it.

A couple-three years ago I scored several sickly houseplants from a woman living maybe two miles from here who placed her ad on either Craigslist or Facebook Marketplace (I can’t remember which). I wanted the pots — nice ones, several hundred dollars worth, easily — more than what was growing in them.

I came to call her place the Addams Family house. From the outside it was a nondescript suburban tract home, a bit down at the heel, with an RV in the driveway that apparently hadn’t been moved in years. Inside was just loaded with taxidermy — dozens of pieces. And not just domestic stuff, although there was plenty of that. I recall a springbok and some other critter I couldn’t identify. And all these plants placed where there wasn’t sufficient light. So of course they weren’t healthy, and their dropped and desiccated leaves littered the floors and the furniture. The place was dingy and dusty and kinda creepy, and I got the sense the woman had had her fill of living like that and was taking affirmative action to change it. Did her husband die, maybe? That seemed a distinct possibility.

So I loaded the plants into my van (good thing I brought a hand truck), thanked the woman and was on my way. I took starts off some of the plants, gave away a couple of ‘em, and threw out the others. I’ve used the pots for houseplants and for stuff growing on my deck and in my greenhouse. They’ll easily outlast me, especially the glazed ones.

I’ve gotten other pots through similar methods before.
 

LizzieMaine

Bartender
Messages
33,367
Location
Where The Tourists Meet The Sea
Half the stuff in my house was picked up off the sidewalk, from the dump recycling center, or the side of the road, including the majority of my living room furniture, my computer, and my TV set. Some of my fondest childhood memories involve going dump-picking with my grandfather in the days when it was literally that -- you saw something you liked in the pile and you dug it out. Like, for example, this TV -- an RCA-Victor model from 1954 that I've owned for most of its existence and still use. (The window-box effect is the DVD player displaying a menu, not the TV. I got the DVD player from a salvage pile at the theatre.)

TV.jpg


I can't think of anything of consequence in my entire house that I bought new at retail in a store.
 
Messages
10,773
Location
My mother's basement
^^^^^^
In our late teen years my since-deceased brother and I had a junk-hauling enterprise. We placed an ad in our local community newspaper and picked up a few bucks clearing out the stuff people wanted out of their lives. We had a couple of old Ford trucks — a 1950 F1 and a ‘52 (I think) truck with a bed and sides built to move large sheets of glass.

More than the stuff we hauled away was the stuff at the dumpsite that was worth saving from the landfill. I’ve heard that in more recent times picking through that stuff is no longer allowed. More’s the pity.
 
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Messages
10,773
Location
My mother's basement
That table and these chairs I got free fairly recently from a restaurant operator who determined they were just in his way. He had his online ad up for a while, reducing the asking price in steps, eventually dropping it down to zero.

This is commercial-duty stuff. I’m happy to have it, and a little surprised he didn’t get at least some money for it.

IMG_2153.jpeg
IMG_2152.jpeg
 

TheOldFashioned

Call Me a Cab
Messages
2,111
Location
The Great Lakes
A USA made London Fog double breasted wool overcoat was gifted to me 15+ years ago when I was still attending university:
20201206_122229.jpg


This guy was sizing me up after Sunday services. While I recognized him and his family from before, I thought it was a little strange to get a stare down at church. When he approached me he says, "Hey, I have a coat that is a bit too small for me, but I think would fit you. I'll bring it next week. If it fits you can have it because it's just collecting dust in my closet." It's been my primary winter coat ever since. I figure I'm probably getting close to his age now when he gifted it to me.

As for tips, dumpster diving at the end of the of the year in a college/university town. You'd be amazed at what gets thrown out from perfectly good bicycles to lumber used to built lofts.

My wife is also a member of a Facebook Buy Nothing group. People post stuff they want to share or get rid of. I guess a common courtesy is to post an update picture of how you have (re)used or upcycled what you've taken. Our cherry tomato plant in our garden this summer that we got as a volunteer start has just started to bear fruit.
 
Messages
10,773
Location
My mother's basement

As for tips, dumpster diving at the end of the of the year in a college/university town. You'd be amazed at what gets thrown out from perfectly good bicycles to lumber used to built lofts.

My wife is also a member of a Facebook Buy Nothing group. People post stuff they want to share or get rid of. I guess a common courtesy is to post an update picture of how you have (re)used or upcycled what you've taken. Our cherry tomato plant in our garden this summer that we got as a volunteer start has just started to bear fruit.
Oh yes! Thanks for the reminder.

My lovely missus and I lived for a spell at an apartment complex immediately adjacent to a state college. At the conclusion of each academic term the dumpsters were as you described.

I still have a plant stand I pulled from a dumpster there all those years ago.
 
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Messages
10,773
Location
My mother's basement
And more dumpster treasures …

This table I pulled from the dumpster behind the building that housed my office more than 20 years ago. It had belonged to the Starbucks on the ground floor of the building. I also grabbed two Starbucks sidewalk chairs, both of which have long since left my company. .

Both the chairs and the table had superficial dings and scratches — not up to Starbucks standards anymore, so in the dumpster they went. But it’s outdoor furniture, so of course that’ll happen. I’ve painted this tabletop at least a couple times since then. I doubt I’ll do it again. But I will not throw it away. It serves a good purpose where it is now, and should that no longer be the case, I’ll find it a good home.

The chairs in the photo I bought new, which is unlike me. But hey! They were 50 percent off!

IMG_2155.jpeg
 
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Messages
10,773
Location
My mother's basement
Finding good “Golden Era” stuff free or close to it isn’t an everyday kinda thing anymore. The war ended 78 years ago. (Any date denoting the end of “the Era” would be arbitrary, but the end of the war and the beginning of the “postwar” era seems as good a date as any.) But some of it is still out there, but it’s not likely to drop in your lap.

People too often proceed on the assumption that an item’s age — its “antique” or “vintage” status — confers market value. It might, of course, but sellers often learn that their old soda pop crate or radio that almost works or bed of a size that is rarely used anymore isn’t gonna bring much money.
 
Messages
10,605
Location
vancouver, canada
Some people just want stuff out of their lives, for whatever reason. (Divorce, death in the family, it no longer suits their style, they never liked it in the first place, etc.) And whatever money they might get for it isn’t worth haggling over, not for them, anyway.

I’ve been there myself. I’ve put stuff out at the curb with a “FREE” sign taped to it. I might have gotten some scratch from it, but I determined that whatever that amount might have been just wasn’t worth the hassle of listing it and taking messages and arranging meeting times and then getting lowball offers. No thanks. It’s free. If you want it, take it.

A couple-three years ago I scored several sickly houseplants from a woman living maybe two miles from here who placed her ad on either Craigslist or Facebook Marketplace (I can’t remember which). I wanted the pots — nice ones, several hundred dollars worth, easily — more than what was growing in them.

I came to call her place the Addams Family house. From the outside it was a nondescript suburban tract home, a bit down at the heel, with an RV in the driveway that apparently hadn’t been moved in years. Inside was just loaded with taxidermy — dozens of pieces. And not just domestic stuff, although there was plenty of that. I recall a springbok and some other critter I couldn’t identify. And all these plants placed where there wasn’t sufficient light. So of course they weren’t healthy, and their dropped and desiccated leaves littered the floors and the furniture. The place was dingy and dusty and kinda creepy, and I got the sense the woman had had her fill of living like that and was taking affirmative action to change it. Did her husband die, maybe? That seemed a distinct possibility.

So I loaded the plants into my van (good thing I brought a hand truck), thanked the woman and was on my way. I took starts off some of the plants, gave away a couple of ‘em, and threw out the others. I’ve used the pots for houseplants and for stuff growing on my deck and in my greenhouse. They’ll easily outlast me, especially the glazed ones.

I’ve gotten other pots through similar methods before.
The local Big Brothers does used clothing pickups. They in turn sell it to companies like "Value Village". They started to do this maybe 20 years ago and the revenue allows them to be pretty much self funded. They do get some funds from United Way but are largely self sufficient. I don't bother trying to sell old clothing as it is too much bother to list something worth $50 to $150 and have to field all the cranks calls from Craigs List.
 
Messages
10,605
Location
vancouver, canada
A USA made London Fog double breasted wool overcoat was gifted to me 15+ years ago when I was still attending university:
View attachment 533040

This guy was sizing me up after Sunday services. While I recognized him and his family from before, I thought it was a little strange to get a stare down at church. When he approached me he says, "Hey, I have a coat that is a bit too small for me, but I think would fit you. I'll bring it next week. If it fits you can have it because it's just collecting dust in my closet." It's been my primary winter coat ever since. I figure I'm probably getting close to his age now when he gifted it to me.

As for tips, dumpster diving at the end of the of the year in a college/university town. You'd be amazed at what gets thrown out from perfectly good bicycles to lumber used to built lofts.

My wife is also a member of a Facebook Buy Nothing group. People post stuff they want to share or get rid of. I guess a common courtesy is to post an update picture of how you have (re)used or upcycled what you've taken. Our cherry tomato plant in our garden this summer that we got as a volunteer start has just started to bear fruit.
I have donated two cashmere overcoats....somewhere out there is a well dressed homeless guy!
 
Messages
10,773
Location
My mother's basement
The local Big Brothers does used clothing pickups. They in turn sell it to companies like "Value Village". They started to do this maybe 20 years ago and the revenue allows them to be pretty much self funded. They do get some funds from United Way but are largely self sufficient. I don't bother trying to sell old clothing as it is too much bother to list something worth $50 to $150 and have to field all the cranks calls from Craigs List.
Around here Arc (it’s just Arc now, no longer an acronym, seeing how “retarded” is come to be thought disrespectful) runs its own thrift stores. In the Seattle area Arc works with Value Village, a for-profit, which solicits donations in Arc’s name for the stuff that becomes their inventory, and in return for which Arc gets a large chunk of the revenue. That arrangement is not without controversy, but it has survived legal challenges.
 
Messages
10,605
Location
vancouver, canada
Around here Arc (it’s just Arc now, no longer an acronym, seeing how “retarded” is come to be thought disrespectful) runs its own thrift stores. In the Seattle area Arc works with Value Village, a for-profit, which solicits donations in Arc’s name for the stuff that becomes their inventory, and in return for which Arc gets a large chunk of the revenue. That arrangement is not without controversy, but it has survived legal challenges.
Big Bros was the first to institute the idea in Canada. Not their idea as they borrowed it from a US locale. There are numerous other charities following the model...."Diabetes", "Developmental Disabilities" also do the phone soliciting/collecting. I was a Big Bros for a decade so I have an emotional attachment to them.
 
Messages
10,773
Location
My mother's basement
^^^^^
The charity thrift store business ain’t what it was. From this consumer’s perspective, the changes have been mostly for the worse.

Their mission is to make money for their nonprofits, and the more the better. So stuff that might have sold for, say, 10 bucks on the floor is put online in the often realized hope it’ll fetch much more.

I understand it, but it does have me doing considerably less thrift store shopping than I once did.

And it’s not just the “collectible” or “vintage” swag that sells for more. Everyday housewares are also pricier than they used to be. And that puts a bite on our lower-income brothers and sisters who really need that stuff.
 
Messages
10,605
Location
vancouver, canada
^^^^^
The charity thrift store business ain’t what it was. From this consumer’s perspective, the changes have been mostly for the worse.

Their mission is to make money for their nonprofits, and the more the better. So stuff that might have sold for, say, 10 bucks on the floor is put online in the often realized hope it’ll fetch much more.

I understand it, but it does have me doing considerably less thrift store shopping than I once did.

And it’s not just the “collectible” or “vintage” swag that sells for more. Everyday housewares are also pricier than they used to be. And that puts a bite on our lower-income brothers and sisters who really need that stuff.
25 years ago when my wife and I worked in community theatre the Value Village shops were a great source for cheap wardrobe. Although after a day of rummaging through racks of clothing I needed a deep steam cleanse to rid the grime. But usually it was worth the effort.
 
Messages
10,773
Location
My mother's basement
The table is a gift from a junktique peddler I had done business with going back nearly 20 years. She hadn’t yet marked a price on it when I asked what she might want for it. “It’s yours,” she said, “take it.” That was more than a decade ago, maybe closer to a decade and a half. The tobacco cabinet behind it, with the books stacked on top, was set out on the curb of a well-traveled road. I drove around the block and snagged it.

IMG_3425.jpeg
 
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Messages
10,773
Location
My mother's basement
This seems as good a thread as any for this …

IMG_3616.jpeg


Wayfair and IKEA and AFW and their ilk sell this stuff by the shipload.

It sells because it’s “on trend” and it presents well when new.

I can be only so critical. I have a couple of IKEA drum shades (large ones) hanging over the dining tables in both living units here. They’re stylish, and shades of that size might cost four or five times as much elsewhere. Maybe more than that. (Trust me, I’ve looked into it.) I have other IKEA stuff, too, some of it bought used.

I can see sending stuff to the landfill if it’s broken beyond reasonable repair. And having myself paid substantial amounts for rental trucks and fuel to move stuff, paid more than the stuff was worth, I clearly understand why a person might just leave it behind.

Still, though, it is wasteful. Its very existence betrays nothing so much as wastefulness. My griping about it won’t change a thing, but in my perfect world furniture is made to last generations.
 

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