What I Took (and Didn’t Take) From The Free Piles

by Katy on June 29, 2015 · 20 comments

I posted the other day about the dozen amazing free piles that caught my eye while meandering through a nearby neighborhood. I could have easily filled the back of my Prius, but I was judicious and deliberate with my shopping choices.

Don’t want to be featured on Hoarders. No siree-bob!

Remember this tidy pile of bamboo stakes?

photo 2

I took three, which I used to stake up my apparently bionic tomato plant

Tomato stakes

And these framed pictures on this enormous stuffed chair?

photo 10

I walked them to the consignment shop, and was handed $7.20 in cash. Ka-ching!

This large pile had a set of sheets and an Ikea duvet cover:


I washed them all up and am keeping the sheets, but will try and sell the duvet cover.

Duvet cover

I didn’t take the composter, as we only do curbside composting after an awful rat infestation a few years ago. Shudder . . .

A number of people commented on how they would have taken this wooden ironing board, and I have to admit that I was tempted. However, I tried to picture where it would go or what I would do with it and I came up with a blank. I considered taking it for resale, but thought it might be too niche an item to attract a buyer. I think I was wrong to have left it. Also, I should have taken the lamp, which would have been an easy sell at the consignment shop.

photo 7

From the various other piles I took two T-shirts, one new-in-box toilet paper holder, two pairs of girls shoes, a stack of children’ activity sets, a couple of kitchen sink drains to replace my broken ones and a computer keyboard.

Children's activity sets

photo 3

I do regret that I wasn’t driving the minivan, as this twin bed had a brand new looking mattress and boxspring, and would have been an easy sale on Craigslist.

photo 11

I’ll take the kid stuff to the children’s consignment shop when I’m next in the neighborhood, and the T-shirts will try their luck at Buffalo Exchange so my son can get some store credit.

In all, a very successful shopping excursion. No money was spent, some money will be made, and I added a few practical items to my home. People’s unwanted goods found new homes and my tomatoes now have a semblance of order.

Why on earth would I ever go to the mall?!*

Katy Wolk-Stanley

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

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*See’s Chocolate

{ 20 comments… read them below or add one }

Kristen June 30, 2015 at 12:19 am

Ooh, I wish we had free piles with Converse in them!


A. Marie June 30, 2015 at 1:51 am

I have to admit that on the whole, your free piles are a lot better than us. However, DH and I are still using stuff from the massive curbside set-out by the neighbors who moved away in mid-January, so I can’t complain.


A. Marie June 30, 2015 at 1:51 am

Make that “better than ours.” I think I’ll go have some coffee now. (It’s 5:52 EDT.)


Diane June 30, 2015 at 4:17 am

I’m happy to live vicariously through you. Scavenging at its best!


Dyan June 30, 2015 at 5:31 am

I’d have taken that wooden ironing board in a heartbeat. Antique malls around here sell them for $50-65.


cathy June 30, 2015 at 1:22 pm

Wow, what part of the country are you in?
I have an ironing board just like that. It was my grandmother’s. I tried selling it in at least 2 yard sales, maybe 3. No takers. I finally picked up a new cover for it and kept it. Of course, we iron about 3x/year. I’d love to sell it.


JD June 30, 2015 at 5:32 am

I haven’t found a shop that pays cash or gives credit for what we bring in — I’ve taken good clothes to consignment shops before and it’s the same thing as throwing them into a black hole — I never get any money out of them or hear back. I so wish I had stores that gave me credit or cash! I am so inspired by what Katy does, though, that I feel like I need to be out roaming the streets, gloves in hand, to see if someone hasn’t tossed something I could sell!
Good job!


Kim from Philadelphia June 30, 2015 at 6:25 am

A total win-win!!


Betty Winslow June 30, 2015 at 6:56 am

We have two antique stores that buy things, a clothing consignment store for women, and a used book store/coffeeshop that gives store credit, plus several consignment stores within driving distance, plus a number of active FB sale sites and of course, Craig’s List and Freecycle. I’ve sold my mom’s and dad’s automatic beds, clothes, books, a set of antique fiddle bottles, jewelry, shoes, a Kuerig, leftover K-cups, and various other odds and ends, plus scored a bunch of stuff from sites like those. Love thrift shop living!


Chris June 30, 2015 at 7:25 am

Saw a facebook posting for free stuff (with photos of great stuff)near my house before I left for the post office. Swung by and the alley was crammed with cars. Mailed my package and drove by again and no one was there. Figured it was worth a try – found a sweet set of bird themed bookends, a women’s North Face fleece jacket and a rain proof liner for a baby stroller. Helped another woman load a dresser in her mini-van. Got home and started kicking myself for what I left behind but feel that I took what my eye was drawn to first.


Diana June 30, 2015 at 10:30 am

This is amazingly motivating! I’ve never looked into finding a consignment store that would give cash for items! Any advice on what to do with used books that have an amazon trade-in value of $0 ?


Jill July 2, 2015 at 10:37 am

Sometimes books with no trade-in value still can be sold for something on Amazon. Often, it’s not worth it though. If books still have some value (i.e. someone would still want to read them) but they’re worthless on Amazon because there’s so many of them on the market, I take them to Savers. Savers has donation cards and gives stamps for each bag or box donated, and when full, the card is worth a 30% discount. I buy clothes and fabric and whatnot at Savers, so the unwanted books are turned into some actual savings. Clearly, only good advice if you have a Savers or other thrift store that gives coupons for donation and you have a need/desire to shop at that thrift store. For me, it’s worth it.


Michele June 30, 2015 at 12:21 pm

Jealous! No free piles near me, but I did get a beautiful divided Corelle dish at a garage sale. Love to read about your finds!


Susanne g June 30, 2015 at 2:42 pm

I have to thank your reader who recommended “things I found in the garbage” blog. What a treasure! I live in a small town, and this guy doesn’t (nor does Katy) so I’m going to have to see how a small town does a free pile without a free pile! Maybe I’m going to have to let people know what I’m looking for? I’ll let you know if I learn the small town way!


AFS June 30, 2015 at 4:12 pm

Daily I pass a HUGE pile of black trash bags full of stuff. They are marked BLIND but the donation truck came last Thursday. The garbage truck came Monday. The would-be donations still sit by the side of the road. After reading Katy’s free pile stories I’m VERY tempted to pick up the bags for myself. I considered asking if I could haul the stuff away, but there is a locked gate on the driveway. Aside from hoping to make a little extra money, I fear that eventually the stuff will become litter strewn on the roadside.


Marcia June 30, 2015 at 8:32 pm

I love the coverlet, but don’t need one. Very pretty.

We have few free piles here although occasionally I’ve seen a few things after a yard sale, etc. I’m at an age where I’m looking to downsize, so it would have to be something worth selling.

And around here, we can’t GIVE used books away. We have tried at regular intervals. I have a huge number of them which I might make more efforts to sell again one of these days. Kids books go at yard sales, but I gave a lot to relatives for nothing. As long as they get used, I don’t care. Don’t think there are too many kid’s books around here anymore.


Diane C June 30, 2015 at 8:59 pm

Hi Marcia,
Have you tried your library? Our Friends group collects and re-sells books in the library lobby and at quarterly book sales. We raise about $30,000 annually which helps pay for programs, supplies and of course, more books.

On another note, free piles are virtually non-existent in my neck of the woods, alas.


April July 1, 2015 at 8:10 am

If you haven’t already taken them to the consignment store, could you tell me what size those converse are?? 🙂


Katy July 2, 2015 at 10:13 am

They are a size six.


April July 2, 2015 at 12:12 pm

Too big for me. 🙁 Thanks for the reply!!


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