The Market

Want free furniture? Head to Philly, land of the neglected stoop sales

By Virginia K. Smith  | July 15, 2015 - 2:59PM

Everyone in New York knows that if you've got furniture, dishes, an old A/C, even extra pantry items to unload, you can just put them out on the sidewalk with a sign that says "FREE STUFF" (or probably without a sign), and they'll likely be gone within the hour. Apparently, it's not so in other cities. ran a piece over the weekend about the apparent difficulty of recycling old home furnishings in the city of brotherly love, and the article opened with a simultaneously dire and enticing portrait of Philadelphia's free furniture situation: "Drive down streets in any affluent neighborhood and you will see perfectly serviceable home furnishings waiting for trash crews to haul them away." To which we say: Seriously? Anyone with a free van to lend next weekend?

The problem, according to experts, is that sellers often want more money than they can realistically net for their old furniture sets (totally believable); auction houses will only accept donations of furniture that's currently in style (makes sense); and that fickle millennials are too attached to Pottery Barn and Crate & Barrel to consider the secondhand goods (say what?).

Unsurprisingly, the NYC-based brokers we chatted with had never encountered this kind of problem in the city. "It’s so easy in the city to unload stuff," says Douglas Elliman broker Paul Zweben, who notes that word of mouth is a powerful factor. "If [a seller has] something really special, sometimes we’ll take a photo and blast it to every agent in the company to see if anyone wants it." Failing that, Zweben tells us that clients usually donate to Housing Works or similar charities. Similarly, Halstead agent Diana Ventura says that many clients both buy and sell used furniture on Krrb, and that one even found a gently used Eames chair and lounge on the site.

Naturally, the only obstacle between New Yorkers and free furniture is exactly what you think it is: "The issue is often who's going to pick it up, or drop it off," says Zweben. Consider this a reminder that if you've got a car (or an accommodating friend who has one), you'd do well to spend your weekend cruising the city's stoop sales—or making a quick trip to Philly.


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Furniture sale site AptDeco launches "Design for Me" feature

An easy way to donate your excess stuff -- instead of dumping it -- next time  you move

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Meet today's home furnishings store: faster, cheaper, and web-only

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