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Tue Aug 28 2012 10:55:14

What's the Best Free Item You've Scored Online or Off?

By: Julia Wilkinson

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I recently drove past a bunch of stuff sitting on a curb in our neighborhood that had been cleared out of a house that sold. A primitive painting on top looked tempting, but this time I didn't stop and scour through the pile.  But I have gotten several great items for free that were just sitting out on the curb, most memorably a pie-chest complete with tooled metal doors that was just hanging out on the sidewalk begging to be picked up.

Some people look regularly through Craigslist or Freecycle to find freebies...on Craigslist they're known as "curb alerts," where someone puts an item they no longer want out on the curb and the first one to get to it is the winner. Some users frown upon people using Freecycle to pick up items for resale; but in one online discussion about this most people felt that as long as the item was going to be used by someone, it didn't matter if the taker was going to keep it or sell it.

My best tip for finding curb freebies is to look and see if your local government has regular "special pickup" or "spring cleaning" pickup days. In my area, various local sections of the city have their own designated Saturday for spring cleaning pickup, and you can find the schedule on the city's web site.

The Friday evening before each area's Saturday pick up date, you can often find a whole subculture of people driving around the town in pickup trucks and weeding through stuff on the curb with flashlights. I have found textbooks, old records, toys, and various other items this way.

What have you scored for free from a curb or other offline area? Have you gotten any good scores from an online venue? And do you think there's an ethical problem with getting stuff from Freecycle to resell, or is all fair in love, war and curb-diving? Post a comment here!




Comments (15) | Permalink

Readers Comments

What's the Best Free Item You've Scored Online or Off?   What's the Best Free Item You've Scored Online or Off?

This user has validated their user name. by: permacrisis

Tue Aug 28 11:46:39 2012

This brings up a good point, one that got me torn to shreds on the ebay boards, and that is: donation box leftovers.

The laws in my town CLEARLY state that only clothes and shoes are to be placed in these charity bins. Anything left beside them, and anything NOT clothes or shoes, is ILLEGAL DUMPING- Period.

As such, it's abandoned property, which is first come first serve. I don't have a problem picking around in that stuff- I'm more worried about being accused of having dumped it.

Now being a nice guy, if I see clothes beside a clothing bin, obviously I'll stuff it on in there. Despite the fact that technically I could take it, I'm no clubhouse lawyer. Probably an old person couldn't lift it, right? I'm not a heel.

But if it's a broken blender, dead computer, half a radio flyer wagon, or some other obvious case of midnight dump  'n' run, then HELL YEAH I'm grabbing the scrap.

After the boardies went bananas about the above comments, I set about calling the 1-800 numbers on these boxes, and asking the charities straight out, what happens to the other stuff that isn't clothes and shoes?

Turns out they have to PAY to get rid of it, which they are forced to do since the town will come after them if the stuff piles up. So really, if you grab this stuff you are doing them a favor.

Try telling that to the trolls.

What's the Best Free Item You've Scored Online or Off?   What's the Best Free Item You've Scored Online or Off?

by: Grandma_Fish This user has validated their user name.

Tue Aug 28 14:13:49 2012

The best thing I found for free at curbside were two matching computer desks, a corner module and a standalone desk, both with pull-out keyboard holders. They needed only slight repair to be perfectly useable. The owners just happened to be outside getting in their car ready to leave and I offered them money, because they really were nice desks. They insisted that they were free, that they had just gotten a new computer desk and even helped me put the desks in the back of my SUV. I snuck back later and left a Starbuck's gift card on their front door and I got over 7 good years of use out of those desks before they finally fell apart.

My husband and I used to regularly drive around the neighborhoods on the yearly curb trash pickup days. We'd especially wait for the curb days in the upper-class neighborhoods because they throw away good junk! We'd throw out our junk and end up bringing home new junk. I was ever so happy to give away one of those horrible exer-cycle thingies! I was so afraid no one would want it, even with the ''free'' sign taped to it, and I'd have to drag that heavy thing back into the garage again. But some young woman looking to lose a few pounds stopped with her husband and they loaded it into their car, said thank you and drove off with it. Whew!

That said, I agree with permacrisis' comments above. You have to use some common sense and be ethical about picking things up from the donation bins. If it really is donated goods and not trash somebody's dumping, it could be considered stealing depending upon the laws where you live.

Another good place to check for free resaleable stuff is at the flea markets at the end of the day when the sellers pack up to leave. They'll often throw away the stuff that they weren't able to sell that weekend in the trash bins, just so they don't have to haul it back home.

What's the Best Free Item You've Scored Online or Off?   What's the Best Free Item You've Scored Online or Off?

This user has validated their user name. by: Ric

Tue Aug 28 15:07:50 2012

We scored half a dozen working Dell desktops that were stacked next to an office building dumpster. We blew the dust out of them, installed hard drives and Windows XP and they ran great!

I sold 4 and am still using the remaining 2. They have been running trouble free for 3 years now.

Seems like when that office upgrades to new equipment, their old stuff is simply tossed after the hard drives are pulled.

With Windows 8 coming out this fall, we are hoping we will be able to upgrade once again for little or no cost.

What's the Best Free Item You've Scored Online or Off?   What's the Best Free Item You've Scored Online or Off?

by: Cheyennemom1 This user has validated their user name.

Tue Aug 28 23:07:42 2012

Online daily is from frogslap.com. So many freebies that it drives others in my household nuts. Free books, free samples, free magazines and more  but the offline has been over 200 in items  for only $50 total  from one store on blackfriday. Ive gotten 50 dollar items down to less that 10. Ive scored alot offline at bath products  because i had coupons on top  of coupons at the same time.

What's the Best Free Item You've Scored Online or Off?   What's the Best Free Item You've Scored Online or Off?

by: comet This user has validated their user name.

Wed Aug 29 00:22:59 2012

Hot tub scored at yard sale
Free car for kid from work friend
Free bikes and toys for all kids
Free clothing
Free books
Free 1940's enamel top table
Free set of chairs given to me at benefit auction to go with $5 antique gate lag table I bought---these were from another buyer who couldn't fit them in their truck!
Free livestock


On one town wide clean out:
Free room size Oriental style rug still under my feet as I type- at least 12 years ago-pulled from under a pile of roofing shingles

Dehumidifier-needed 25 cent hose clamp
Wood
Tools
Swing set
Monitor top fridge
washers and dryers
animal care items
Lots more I can't remember!

AS to getting things off FREECYCLE etc to re-sell---If I offer something for sale via a free site or a shop--what you do with it is your business.  Thrift stores have recently been putting up posters claiming that anyone discovered "re-selling" items purchased there will be shot at sunrise or worse.  But---this is illegal.  

Their ownership of it stops at the point where money changes hands or the person freely gives you the item--no strings attached.

Now say you picked up something on Freecycle that you thought was going to fit in your house---and it did not.  OR in a few weeks- months- years you no longer had use for that item---could you sell it THEN?  Is there a statute of time for this?  Two weeks?  A year?  

If you buy a pair of pants at a thrift store and you lose weight--or gain it!--can you sell them then?  Are you BOUND to re-donate them?  What if the store goes out of business?

This can lead to madness.  IF you bought a car as long as no one objects and you don't have a loan you can build the Cadillac Ranch!   Once you pay your money "they" don't GET a say in what you do with it.   And if the person chooses NOT to sell it themselves when it has sale value---well more power to those who don't need that money!  I do and I ain't too proud to dumpster dive to get it!


What's the Best Free Item You've Scored Online or Off?   What's the Best Free Item You've Scored Online or Off?

by: Deltamaster This user has validated their user name.

Wed Aug 29 07:37:09 2012

Gee, if you want to talk about the free stuff you have gotten by using online sites I can make a list:

Toilet,
Lumber,
Window A/C's,
Furniture,
Trinkets,
Toys,
7 boxes of stuffed animals
and more!

I do not know why people get all bent out of shape about what the recipient does with the item they receive through Freecycle.

Freecycle is NOT a charity.  It is not a donations box.  It is NOT a place to go and cry about your troubles and beg for free stuff.

The Freecycle network was originally established as a portal... a venue... a place for people to offer things that they would otherwise throw away but might still have some useful value to someone else.

Of course, like many other things, (including Craigslist and their gangs of flaggers) Freecycle has morphed in to something a little different than it's pure intention and self righteous people have deemed that THEIR idea of Freecycle is the ONLY Freecycle and that people MUST adhere to THEIR rules.

Boooloney!!!  As long as the item is kept out of the landfill and is used again then THAT is the mission of Freecycle and THAT transaction was a success!

Don't be snobbish and look down your nose at someone who makes a buck from something that might have otherwise been thrown away.  If it bothers you that much then spend all the time and trouble to market it and sell the thing yourself!

What's the Best Free Item You've Scored Online or Off?   What's the Best Free Item You've Scored Online or Off?

by: DingDong This user has validated their user name.

Wed Aug 29 09:38:38 2012

I picked up an old wing back chair from a curb.  When placing this chair in my truck, the owner yelled at me. Stomache curled. She asked me if I would be interested in a dresser. So I went to look at this 4 drawer short BLUE older dresser. I took it.

I reuphostered the chair. LOVE IT.
I striped the dresser. OMGoodness, it's mahogany and beautiful.

And both are solid pieces of furniture.

What's the Best Free Item You've Scored Online or Off?   What's the Best Free Item You've Scored Online or Off?

by: Katt This user has validated their user name.
Web Site

Wed Aug 29 12:46:08 2012

Vidabest is Best Online Lowest Unique Auctions Deal including live auctions ,Electronics, Mobile, Computers, jewellery and Home facilities. Check out the free and  discount online shopping  bidding website at once.

What's the Best Free Item You've Scored Online or Off?   What's the Best Free Item You've Scored Online or Off?

by: Moonwishes This user has validated their user name.
Web Site

Wed Aug 29 12:53:16 2012

Well I stopped the truck and grabbed $14 in bills off the street once! I love freebie boxes at yard sales as I have found some nice useful things including a bunch of spiral bound notebooks, greeting cards, sewing magazines. Not much of great value to others, but things I needed at the time. But currently since I'm not up to going out much, I get most of my freebies on line via the Amazon Vine program where not only do I get to review lots of books, I also get free merchandise to review. One of my favorites being an Invicta watch for my hubby.  

What's the Best Free Item You've Scored Online or Off?   What's the Best Free Item You've Scored Online or Off?

by: sueb22 This user has validated their user name.

Wed Aug 29 13:08:08 2012

Best free item was a table with extension top and two drawers, two barstools that matched, all from Crate and Barrel and sitting with a neighbors trash.  In pristine condition and I didn't need it, but I couldn't let it sit there.  I grabbed one of my very embarrased children and hauled it home.  Put it in the garage until the year one of my embarrased kids needed it for her first apartment.  Score!!

What's the Best Free Item You've Scored Online or Off?   What's the Best Free Item You've Scored Online or Off?

This user has validated their user name. by: Tula

Wed Aug 29 16:23:44 2012

Back in college, my two housemates scored some free solid wooden doors and a few heavy metal two-drawer file cabinets from an office building that was replacing some stuff. They used them to make themselves desks in their bedrooms. More recently, my brother grabbed some computer gear for me, including a high-end backup UPS that was still in the shrink-wrap, simply because his company was changing vendors.

I also got some free desks, desk chairs, and a couple of heavy-duty file cabinets when one company where I was working was downsizing and moving to a new location. I think I paid $5 for the file cabinet, but the desks (heavy steel) were free. It was a pain to move that heavy stuff, but I still have most of it and this was more than 10 years ago.

In terms of inventory, I was taking a class and one of the women I was chatting with brought me several bags of vintage items when she found out I was interested in them and was selling them online. I offered to pay her, but she refused, saying she was just glad to get rid of clutter and give them a new home. I also got a nice lot of canning jars a couple of summers back via a local email list for exchanging and selling stuff. An older person had passed away and the relatives weren't interested in canning and were going to toss the jars in the recycling bin if they couldn't give them away.

It's amazing what people will get rid of.

What's the Best Free Item You've Scored Online or Off?   What's the Best Free Item You've Scored Online or Off?

This user has validated their user name. by: Bidofthis.com

Wed Aug 29 22:16:38 2012

I used to like GarbageScout.com
Too bad the site is no longer maintained.

What's the Best Free Item You've Scored Online or Off?   What's the Best Free Item You've Scored Online or Off?

This user has validated their user name. by: permacrisis

Wed Aug 29 22:37:59 2012

One time in 1987 I had this HUGE piece of industrial machinery that I could not get rid of- the electrics were 3-phase, unusable to me. In 87, scrap was at an all time low, and they charged to haul autos away! I put it on the sidewalk with a free sign and it just sat there for two weeks.

Then, I had a brainstorm. Two blocks down the street was a nasty housing project, and the teenage kids got out of school around 3 o' clock. So I whipped up a really cool, bossy looking sign. It read:

"DO NOT STEAL"

with the word 'steal' in bold. By nightfall, it had disappeared!

What's the Best Free Item You've Scored Online or Off?   What's the Best Free Item You've Scored Online or Off?

by: Joy This user has validated their user name.

Thu Aug 30 00:17:20 2012

The best thing I ever got and still get is Free DarcusTori Jewelry. I get a new pair of earrings every 3 weeks. I got blue sapphire earrings in sterling silver this month.

What's the Best Free Item You've Scored Online or Off?   What's the Best Free Item You've Scored Online or Off?

by: Harriet This user has validated their user name.

Thu Aug 30 15:45:36 2012

I bought some costume jewelry at a charity sale. I brought it home and cleaned it. One of the pins would not open all the way, I recognized this as a fine jewelry safety feature. I got out my loupe, and it was gold with small diamonds. I cashed that in for a handsome sum.

Got a free hand carved Don Quixote figurine that sold for a nice price. It was the end of a garage sale, and the owner just wanted to get rid of it.

Picked up an original painting by a semi-famous artist. It was unframed at a thrift store. Bought it for a tiny amount. Sold it for a nice price.



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