On giving stuff away

Listia.com
It’s horrible, I’ve gone from ranting about Listia.com to starting to like it to literally become obsessed with it. I can’t tell you how many times in the last week I’ve logged in and search for free stuff. I thought this would stop when I got rid of all my credits (and I’m trying to), but as I keep losing auctions I still haven’t managed to do so, so far. Aaaack!

My main reason to list was to see if there was any interest in the (small) stuff I have. I’ve been throwing the caps from coke bottles forever, and I was surprised to see that people actually wanted the codes that come on them (go figure). As for the beads, these are the ones I have no use for (they came in packages of assorted beads I bought). I particularly hate the bumpy beads. I already had a bid on my bird beads, which was kind of surprising. Of course, I’ll have to pay the shipping to get rid of them.

And that continues to be the problem – it’s really not practical to have the “buyer” pay for shipping on low-weigh items (where the shipping charges are no more than $3), specially as paypal has such horrendous transaction fees. But then you are stuck not only giving something for free but having to pay for the privilege. Oh well, this is just a trial.

Freecycle

I continue to use the San Leandro Freecycle to give away most of my good stuff: things the kids have outgrown, stuff I no longer want, stuff my mother sends me (some specifically to put on freecycle), etc. Basically, freecycle is a mailing list where you post stuff you don’t want and people who want it e-mail you saying so. Generally you give the stuff to the first person who e-mails you about it. I’d say that I get responses to about 2/3rds of the stuff I post (people, for example, never want stuffed animals).
The problem with freecycle, however, is that people are very unreliable. I’d say that about half the time the person does not come to pick up the stuff they wanted. That means I have to keep it in my house for longer – which is exactly what I don’t want. I’m becoming more and more disillusioned with freecycle as time goes by (one of the reasons why I’m trying listia with small stuff – there are too few local users to make it viable for big stuff) – but there are few alternatives.

Thrift Town

Thrift town is our local thrift shop (well, there is also a goodwill but they don’t have good stuff). They pretty much take anything you have (I’m sure they throw away the stuff that won’t sell) and I love it for finding clothing for the kids and a knick-nack (read tea cup) here and there. The problem with them is that they have limited drop-off hours and that we are not good about just taking stuff there. Plus I’m not thrilled that they are a for-profit corporation. On the other hand, it’s the easiest place to drop off unwanted stuff.

Swaptree.com

Swaptree is a great place to exchange books. The way it works is that you list the books you have and no longer want, and the wants you want to get – and when they make a match they e-mail you and ask you whether you want to accept the trade. It’s cool because they don’t just do one-to-one matches. If someone you want book A and have book B, and John has book A and wants book C, and Jane has book C and wants book B a match is made. You also get to look through the books that you can “get now” by trading one of the books you already have – that’s a great way to find new books that might interest you. They also give suggestions of books that you might like.
I’ve used swaptree intensively, in particular in the couple of months after I signed up. Then I ran out of popular books and for months I was unable to get any book I wanted. I just checked it out again, with a few new books I wanted to get, and was able to get two of them (A Smart Girl’s Guide to Friendship Troubles and Oops! The Manners Guide for Girls) both for Mika. Of course, I’m paying as much to ship the books I have to send in return, as I would to just buy the books – but it’s still cool. The big problem with swaptree is that I have to keep the books at home until someone wants them, which can take months.

So now that I only have unpopular books at home, I think I will take them off swaptree and just donate them to the library.

Friends of the Library – San Leandro

If you have extra books, you should really donate them to Friends of the Library. Pretty much every library has an attached group of supporters who fundraise for library services. And they do provide great services, not just new books, but, in San Leandro, at least, they fund most of the activities for little children. With budget cuts as they are, these would not be around without the Friends.

Donating books there is quite easy – you just take them to the library whenever it’s open and give them to the people in the front desk. They’ll even give you a receipt for them that you can use for your taxes.

The problem for us is that we always forget to take them. We never forget to go to the library sale, though 🙂
So this is it, if you know of another method of easily and cheaply getting rid of stuff, please let me know.