Shopping, The Non-Consumer Advocate Way!

by Katy on August 21, 2016 · 25 comments

Free stuff

Yesterday my sister and I drove around a wealthy area that had just completed a neighborhood garage sale day. The “free piles” were abundant and we were not shy about doing a little “shopping.”

We brought home:

  • A new looking Lululemon hoodie for my niece.
  • A $300 dress for my niece.
  • A gliding rocker that needed a quick scrub down.
  • A Gap winter coat that included two quarters and a Burt’s Bees lip balm. (Kept the money, tossed the lip balm.)
  • A child’s life vest.
  • Two desk lamps.
  • A brand new pair of Danskos.
  • A spatula.
  • A blue vintage Ball jar.
  • A new looking pair of girl’s ice skates.
  • A lot of miscellaneous clothing.
  • A wooden toy.
  • A Cynthia Rowley comforter and matching sham.

I’ve already put together three Craigslist listings, added the 50¢ to my Found Change Challenge jar and washed the coat. You know my #collegefund will be a little happier by the end of the week!

Thank you, anonymous garage sale sellers!

Katy Wolk-Stanley

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.”

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{ 24 comments… read them below or add one }

Kiersten August 21, 2016 at 9:40 am

I used to do this. And I forgot about how much fun it is. Thanks for the inspiration. Can’t wait to do it again. 🙂


LisaC August 21, 2016 at 9:52 am

Oh I’m jealous. All people put out around here are broken beach chairs these days. Congrats on your haul!


Susan B. August 21, 2016 at 10:03 am

Katy.the Danskos are so great for work… Hope they are y our size!


The Frugal Shrink August 21, 2016 at 10:29 am

I love this! Free pile “shopping” is so satisfying.


Krystal August 21, 2016 at 11:33 am

DAMN! You did fantastic! Your lucky niece, Lululemon has such high resale value I would be tempted to put it eBay.


Meredith August 21, 2016 at 1:01 pm

Okay, so I really you to do an interview with one of these high-end-item-filled Free Pile Makers. I need to know their reasoning behind laying out such expensive things. I just … don’t get it. I guess some people aren’t interested in putting in a lot of effort to sell old items – I get it (as a full-time stay at home mom who brings in $0 an hour, I don’t DO it but I GET it, if you make more an hour with your job than you would in the time it takes to sell old items, it’s not ‘worth’ it). But wouldn’t it be better to donate it and claim it on their taxes? I guess financially better. Maybe some folks are racking up better karma than me by giving those things away but I’m. just. too. stingy. to. do. it. 😉


Emily August 22, 2016 at 2:16 pm

I babysit for a lot of wealthy people who works so much they barely see their children or spouse. Not saying EVERY wealthy family is like that, but most of them eat out constantly, have people clean and watch their kids for them, and do other personal things. Also, when you are making over 200,000 dollars a year (or more like many of the families I sit for) they have big organizations they support, or through their company they can opt for a 10% donation out of their paycheck (my parents do that too), so that return from the few garbage bags of stuff isn’t really benefiting them, and if items are in decent condition, they almost always get picked up off the side of the road.

I know sometimes I reach a point where I cannot handle any more “stuff”. I work full time as an SLP and also sell on poshmark/ebay, and babysit frequently. Sometimes I am better off doing those these then listing things for 5 dollars here and there on local apps. So I get it.


Bonnie August 21, 2016 at 1:48 pm

Which neighborhood were you in? I only see stained plastic containers in the free piles in Buckman.


April August 21, 2016 at 4:45 pm

I’m also always amazed by these free piles you come upon. I live in South Georgia and 90% of anything secondhand is junk. Even consignment/thrift shops. So these free piles with such quality items amaze me.


Chrissy August 22, 2016 at 4:05 am

I live in a nice but decidedly un-fancy part of Indianapolis and a free pile of any kind is relatively rare and they almost never contain good stuff. People here tend to be very practical and budget-minded and willing to donate things but you can be sure they are getting a receipt so that they can deduct it!
We do have a very active NextDoor group where people give away and trade things constantly.

The free piles in the fancy neighborhoods are sometimes better but not often. Lots of good garage sales there, though.


Juhli August 22, 2016 at 1:18 am

Here in Atlanta it putting something curbside is a time honored way to get rid of things that are still usable but too large or difficult to take to Goodwill, etc. We are preparing to move across the country and have been slowly putting things out and they are always gone the same day – hopefully to have more use for someone else.


Bee August 22, 2016 at 5:26 am

We did this when we were cleaning out my MIL home. Towards the end of this long and tiring, 9-month process; we started putting useable things at the curb. In many cases, they were picked up within the hour. I do hope that it was blessing for someone else. However, I was thrilled that we didn’t have to sell it, move it, or store it. When dealing with thousands of items, you get to the point where you just don’t care about the money. You just want it gone.


Vickie August 22, 2016 at 6:24 am

I agree!! When we were cleaning out my Mom’s house, she had SO MUCH stuff. We did have a garage sale, since my daughter was raising money to send my grandson to camp, but we priced things so low and it was nice to see happy people carting things off because they wanted them. However, we still had a lot of stuff left over, so we packed it up and donated it. I think we left a few things at the curb and sure enough, they were gone the next day. I was so happy, because I was totally exhausted. Sometimes you just need to let go and let someone else take on the responsibility of the STUFF!


Kim from Philadelphia August 22, 2016 at 4:19 am

Unbelievable that people put good items out to be picked up as trash! Or do you think they put them out specifically do people can take what they want? If so, I’ll cut them some slack- haha!!


Julie C August 22, 2016 at 7:00 am

I put things out specifically for other people to take. I put things out after the garbage truck has ran and the weather forecast isn’t calling for rain. If the item isn’t gone before the trash runs again, I’ll move it until the truck runs and put it back, that way it doesn’t end up in the trash.


Mrs. Picky Pincher August 22, 2016 at 5:13 am

Wowza, those are some great finds! Gahh, I really need to step up my garage sale/Goodwill game. That’s awesome that you’re able to salvage some really great and high quality items from the landfill. And I’m sure it doesn’t hurt to make a buck off of them, too. 😉


Diane C August 22, 2016 at 5:39 am

DH and I were in Aspen recently to meet our brand-new granddaughter. The weather turned unexpectedly cold, so I hit a thrift store and a sporting goods resale shop looking for jackets. In the latter, I found a lightweight Lululemon jacket for DH for $24. The price seemed a little high, but it fit the need best and hey, we were in Aspen. When we got home, I noticed it had a small snag, so I whipped out my travel sewing kit, mended, then hung up the jacket. The next morning, DH put it on and then, with a funny look on his face, asked if I’d put money in the pocket. What?? There was $10 in the zippered top pocket! So, not free, but not bad for $14.00 oop. He will wear it for years.


jennifer August 22, 2016 at 5:47 am

I am completely jealous right now! What an awesome haul. I am going to have to drive around more and keep my eyes peeled for stuff like this because I never get so lucky.


Barb @ 1SentenceDiary August 22, 2016 at 6:03 am

I don’t think it’s luck that helps you find these things, Katy, it’s the constant looking. Just like the toads you have to kiss before you find a prince, you have to sort through a lot of trash to find the treasures. Kudos to you for that effort, and congrats on such a great haul!


Vickie August 22, 2016 at 6:18 am

Wow! NICE haul, Katy!!


JD August 22, 2016 at 7:58 am

Very good shopping! We don’t have free piles around here, but when my husband used to live on Florida’s east coast because of his work, we found some pretty good trash piles. Nothing as good as what Katy found, but pretty good.
Nearly everyone here owns a pickup truck, or at least someone in their family does. It’s easy to drop things at the Goodwill or Salvation Army with a pickup, so the garage-sale leftovers always go there, not by the curb. And of course, this is a heavily rural area — many of us, me included, don’t have a curb or trash pickup.


Rowen G. August 22, 2016 at 9:47 am

We don’t get as many group yard-sales, or free piles here, but last week someone put a large back-yard fire pit and a nice iron wood rack out on the curb. (Of course, I glommed them both.) I kept the wood rack, and gave the fire pit to a friend, as I have one I like.


janine August 22, 2016 at 12:04 pm

Just got home from a birthday lunch where we spent part of the time talking about thrift (junk store) shopping. New places, those that had recently closed, moved , and where the best deals were to be found. We included Goodwill and St. Vinnies too.


Leah @ The Frugal South August 22, 2016 at 5:31 pm

I am living vicariously through your free pile shopping spree! I would be giddy if I found that stuff! Way to go.


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