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The Power of the FREE Sign

April 12th, 2011

I don’t know what it is, but it seems people will take anything off your hands if you put it out by the road with a FREE sign on it. A couple years ago we had our basement sandblasted and waterproofed. Some of the items from the basement went out by the road with a free sign on them. Since we live in private lake community with a lot of very expensive vacation homes, our friends that were helping us were skeptical that anyone would take the old bookshelves & the old brown sleeper sofa. Only an hour or so after being put out front, everything was gone!

We also had a old snowblower in our garage, my parents received it second hand when I was in junior high school. We couldn’t use in our gravel driveway, so we put it out by the road. One of our neighbors grabbed it and still uses it. We smile every time we hear him out after a snow storm. This weekend we put a storm door out by the road. Not long afterwards someone stopped in a golf cart, threw it on the roof, and headed home. Well, it fell off the roof right across the street, but they put it back on and off they went again. It’s nice to know that someone else will be getting some use out of something I no longer need!

I must admit, I’ve stopped for free items by the side of the road too. I have some old windows I got this way (hopefully to be made into cold frames or a greenhouse some day). I also found a row of Brunswick seats from an old bowling alley (I know what a score). I sanded these down, painted them up, and we gave them to some friends for Christmas one year!

Do you ever put stuff out by the road with a free sign on it? Have you ever picked up a free item?

27 Comments to “The Power of the FREE Sign”
  1. Beegirl on April 12, 2011 at 6:28 am

    I’ve snagged some good things from the curb. My fave is a cast iron birdbath from a few streets over. It was something like $200 in one of the gardening magazines. People around here will take anything too. We set out an old cast iron claw foot tub and it was gone in 15 min! You should have heard the guys trying to heave it into the truck!

    Reply to Beegirl's comment

  2. kristin @ going country on April 12, 2011 at 6:30 am

    We’ve sold some things from signs on the road–like our lambs, A.’s truck bed cover and liner, and probably this year some of my WOAH TOO MANY tomato seedings. One of the few benefits of living on a busy state route is that there is a LOT of traffic by our house to see our signs.

    Free stuff, however, just goes to the Salvation Army. Which is funny, because I also shop there. We have definitely picked up free stuff before, including the cabinet currently residing in our cellar that I use to hold some of my canned food. We got that from a neighbor in our apartment building in Albany.

    I understand Freecycle is a wonderful thing, but I think it would mostly work in areas with a lot of people.

    Reply to kristin @ going country's comment

  3. Jennifer Fisk on April 12, 2011 at 6:46 am

    In Maine recycling of stuff reigns. One time I put a burned out rusted out grill by the road with a free sign. Two different pickers canabalized it and it disappeared. I put an old round deck table with no chairs out and it lasted 30 minutes. Great way to get rid of stuff without having to go to the transfer station. In the next couple of days, I’m putting an old bicycle with no seat or pedals out on the road. It will be gone in no time. Funny thing though, I never find goodies for free.

    Reply to Jennifer Fisk's comment

  4. tami on April 12, 2011 at 7:16 am

    Last year I spotted 2 adirondack chairs out by a neighbors trash can. I took the truck and snagged them. We sanded them off, restained them and are still using them today.

    Reply to tami's comment

  5. Citysister on April 12, 2011 at 7:24 am

    I have a beautiful solid oak desk that I got on the side of the road when I was in highschool…We are still using it for a desk in our bedroom 15 years later.

    Reply to Citysister's comment

  6. Denise on April 12, 2011 at 8:25 am

    oh yes. I have left things out for the donation truck and then seen a neighbor a couple doors down come pick it all up.

    Reply to Denise's comment

  7. Daedre Craig on April 12, 2011 at 8:49 am

    I’ve gotten rid of a lot of unwanted stuff this way.

    I’ve also been known to pull stuff out of dumpsters and off the side of the road!

    Reply to Daedre Craig's comment

  8. songbirdtiff on April 12, 2011 at 8:53 am

    I got one of my favorite pieces of furniture, my coffee table, on the side of the road. It’s a sturdy piece of furniture that will last forever. When I get tired of it, I just change the paint! :)

    A picture can be found here…

    Reply to songbirdtiff's comment

  9. TreeHugginMomma on April 12, 2011 at 8:53 am

    I live in the city so FREE isn’t necessary. When something is out by the curb it is fair game. Every year after my garage sale I put everything in many cardboard boxes by the curb, within hours 95% of its gone and what is left is really truly trash.

    I do advise people to schedule a thrift store pick up at the close of their garage sale just to get rid of the clutter and not have it land in a landfill, but for me it has never been necessary.

    I do see stuff on the side of the road and am usually to busy to stop. I have promised myself until I get my current clutter under control I will not save or pick up anything new…..

    Reply to TreeHugginMomma's comment

  10. goatpod2 on April 12, 2011 at 9:34 am

    We don’t put stuff down by the road since it’s a Dangerous Intersection where we live! There is another couple that lives on our road too. We have picked up some free stuff before.


    Reply to goatpod2's comment

  11. farmgal on April 12, 2011 at 10:00 am

    My road is way to quiet to put out things for free on the end of the lane but our county, has a set spring/fall roundup and if you put things out a day early, you will see person after person stopping to look though the things, I have gotten to the point that I put the good stuff on one side and what I consider true garabage on the other side, typically folks will take at least 60 to 80 percent of the stuff we put out before they come to pick up what’s left, also our local townships host free saturdays, that are published in the newspapers and on the radio etc, and everyone put out anything they want to give away.

    I have used Freecyle groups, and curbed shopped for sure, its a great way to get good qaulity older styled items that have lots of life left in them.

    Reply to farmgal's comment

  12. Mavis on April 12, 2011 at 10:18 am

    Ohhhh I LOVE THE FREE SIGN… I’ve brought home chairs, desks, plants you name it… :) I almost brought home a velvet couch one… but I couldn’t get it to fit on the top of the car… and by the time I made it back to the FREE sign it was gone :(

    Reply to Mavis's comment

    • Susy on April 12, 2011 at 11:13 am

      A velvet couch – that would have been a score!

      Reply to Susy's comment

  13. Miranda on April 12, 2011 at 10:52 am

    I love it! My little ‘cove’ street is like a magical portal to another universe. We don’t even NEED a free sign: just stick the no longer wanted item at the end of the driveway and POOF – in a few days or hours it’s gone. My neighbor and I joke that it’s a magic doorway, or that the goods just vanish – but i’ve seen actual real live people stop and load up perfectly none functioning dryers into their trucks. Good for them! Good for me! I too am a grabber of things free, including both our side tables in the bedroom and one full length mirror my husband (then best buddy) and i found in a square in Savannah GA, which i picked up and carried across town back to his apt where he had no mirror in which to view his oft dischevelled and unkempt self.

    Reply to Miranda's comment

  14. Suburban Homestead on April 12, 2011 at 11:27 am

    More than just giving stuff away for free, I give away BROKEN items for free, and they STILL get taken! I advertised a vacuum cleaner that didn’t work but “maybe you like to tinker with vacuums” and sure enough, it was gone. We just replace our 100lb leaking hot tub cover. While my husband was ready to haul it to the dump, I offered it on craigslist as materials – “used vinyl” and “two large pieces of styrofoam” – it all got grabbed up!

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  15. Joshua Bardwell on April 12, 2011 at 11:56 am

    My street is way too small to bother putting stuff out, but I regularly list stuff for free on Craigslist. It never fails!

    Reply to Joshua Bardwell's comment

  16. Michelle @ Give a Girl a Fig on April 12, 2011 at 12:10 pm

    I’ve done both…it’s a great way to recycle! We just never know what someone might “need”…lol!

    Reply to Michelle @ Give a Girl a Fig's comment

  17. Marcia on April 12, 2011 at 2:24 pm

    I lived up in Yellowknife (North West Territories) for a year and out there going to the dump is a Sunday afternoon activity for the whole family. Since almost everything needs to be either flown in or shipped in, you don’t throw anything away that can be reused by others. Anything still usable is placed in a special part of the dump in neat piles. Reusable wood together, half used cans of paint, old furniture, old books, all there for others to find what they need. I found a bench and an end table there and a few books. When I moved away, I just returned them to where I found them and they are probably in someone else’s home right now. I just loved that common sense prevailed there instead of the usual shame of “garbage picking”. Not wanting something anymore doesn’t make it into dirty garbage.

    Reply to Marcia's comment

  18. Janine at Rustic Kitchen on April 12, 2011 at 2:42 pm

    I replaced some decayed 1970s-era sliding doors and a lovely couple stopped by to pick them up for a greenhouse they were building. I suddenly had “giver’s remorse” because then I wanted to build a greenhouse. I quickly concluded that I had neither the time, resources or ability and let those old doors go to a good home.

    Reply to Janine at Rustic Kitchen's comment

  19. Jessie on April 12, 2011 at 4:06 pm

    I just put a pile of things out this Saturday – and when we got back home a couple of hours later it was all gone! I was schocked – I’d put out the top to a china hutch, a couple of wall shelves with brackets, a piece of picket fence with all of 4 pickets on it, and two chairs with broken legs. It makes me wonder if they took it all for a bonfire – if so, that works for me!

    Reply to Jessie's comment

  20. Wendy on April 12, 2011 at 4:46 pm

    Gotta love free. Just yesterday after passing some free (very tall and heavy) plants on the side of the road during two separate trips to town (poor fuel management, I know), I called my hubby and told him to bring them home if they were stil there. They were, and he did; now I just need to figure out what they are before I plant them!

    Reply to Wendy's comment

  21. Kathi on April 12, 2011 at 4:56 pm

    My husband picked me up a perfectly good working chest freezer for the basement on the side of the road. As I am taking stuff to the curb, people will stop and ask if they can have it ( bicycles are especially popular).In our town people regularly drive around on garbage eve and pick for stuff. I love it and feel less guilty about getting rid of unwanted items. Computer and moniters never seem to go though.

    Reply to Kathi's comment

  22. MrBrownThumb on April 12, 2011 at 5:26 pm

    A few weeks ago someone put out a big box of chocolate chips on the sidewalk in my neighborhood with the “FREE” sign on it. Can you believe people took sidewalk chocolate? You are 100% right. People will take anything with a “FREE” sign on it.

    Reply to MrBrownThumb's comment

  23. Sincerely, Emily on April 12, 2011 at 11:21 pm

    The power of “free” is a wonderful thing. It is so great if someone else can use it. I like your stories about “free” at the end of the driveway and it is great to see what others have gotten rid of or found. I have done both. No great finds recently, but helped a neighbor haul a coffee table and end tables to their house from another neighbor’s driveway. Trash day (or evening before trash day) is a great day to drive and look. I need to practice the part about getting my stuff out at the end of my driveway before I really need to go searching for more stuff for me – that can be hard, because you just don’t know what you will find. Emily

    Reply to Sincerely, Emily's comment

  24. Terry on April 13, 2011 at 1:02 am

    I have found really nice things in the dumpster! I don’t see many signs with the word free but anytime I see a pile of junk by the road I have to at least slow down and look. I live near a college campus so you better believe I am looking in the trash during moving season. :P

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  25. Seren Dippity on April 13, 2011 at 1:41 am

    Over the years I have rescued many items from the landfill. I remember fondly my first dumpster dive when I was young, newly married and living in an apartment…. a two full boxes of books, over 200 novels, mysteries, biographies and trash romances. I was in heaven. I currently have at least 4 houseplants that had been thrown out and in sad condition….. but just needed a little love and perhaps a bigger pot. I often have to refrain from “collecting” more projects than I can keep up with. But it is hard to see good things go to waste!! I participate in freecycle now a days. I’ve gotten nice toys for the grandbabies to play with at Nanna’s house. And I’ve given away stuff that other people seem happy to take off my hands. Freecycle is much easier than hauling stuff to goodwill or the salvation army.

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  26. Seren Dippity on April 13, 2011 at 1:47 am

    Funny story about how fast free can go… My brother was installing a new dishwasher. Mom sent my dad over to help with the instructions to make sure the old dishwasher was immediately put out at the street. Because she knew that if they sat it out back “to do later” it would never get done. So they did. Then as they were installing the new dishwasher, they realized that they needed some of the screws from the old one to secure it in place. So they go outside and…. it was gone.

    Reply to Seren Dippity's comment

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This is a daily journal of my efforts to cultivate a more simple life, through local eating, gardening and so many other things. We used to live in a small suburban neighborhood Ohio but moved to 153 acres in Liberty, Maine in 2012.

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