Surplus furniture - what do you do with yours?

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trina.innes@ualberta.ca's picture
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Joined: Jan 11 2010

We are exploring different options for surplus furniture. We have a surplus management system, but sometimes it is a very slow way to move furniture out of our system. We see very good products, potentially going to landfill, because we have no room to store it for a period long enough for it to be redeployed.

We are seeking innovative ideas for moving surplus furniture quickly. We've considered flash mobs, partnerships with local groups.....

We are looking for other ideas. What do you do with your surplus furniture?

rneugeba's picture
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Joined: Nov 18 2010

Hey Trina,

We run into a lot of the same problems as far as storage and finding efficient ways to move surplus furniture without it going to the landfill.

One resource we have found is the Institutional Recycling Network, IRN. You can find more info here: http://www.ir-network.com/. We have worked with them a couple of different times now. They do charge a fee for their services, but it means that the furniture goes to good uses in other parts of the world or domestically. They handle the logistics and shipping, etc. Typically they say that their fees are less than what you would pay for tipping fees to send it to the landfill.

In addition to working with them, we also have worked with our Community Service office when we are doing a large project with a lot of furniture where we go in ahead of time and get an inventory of what furniture is there that we will be able to donate, then we make that into a list and I turned it into a Google Doc that we then shared with community organizations and they could then sign up for different items and we just gave a date/time that they would have to come and pick it up. We have worked with a flood relief place after Hurricane Irene last year that needed a lot of furniture, as well as schools, shelters, campgrounds, etc. We also collect student donations at the end of the year during move-out and we have worked with Goodwill on that, and they take some of the student furniture as well.

I know other institutions also use things like Freecycle and Ebay and do it that way, or you could sell it on campus through a thrift store if there is labor capacity for that. We don't tend to have the labor so that is why we have gone towards working with organizations like IRN or trying to do more when it is a large project. The few chairs here and there have proven to be more difficult to manage on a regular basis.

I hope that helps!

Riley Neugebauer
Skidmore College

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Joined: Apr 8 2010

Trinia,

At Marshall University we have a huge yard sale usually twice a year, which is open to the public to bid on surplus furniture. The event is highly published in the local paper and is quite successful.

The process includes:
1. Departments request items to be picked up for the yard sale through an online work order, then the Grounds or Receiving Departments pick up those items in a timely manner.
2. Storage is limited, but a separate area in the Receiving Department is the designated area.
3. All items are tagged with a bid number upon entering the area.
4. Once the storage area is full, then no other items are picked up for the sale.
5. The yard sale is held for two days, in which Receiving employees setup a bid box. Once a person enters the yard sale, they must register and given a paper and pen to record their bids on items.
6. After the sale, the highest bidder is notified to pick up their item(s) within two days.

This year we had over 200 desks that no one bid on, so we contacted several metal recycling companies. One company decided to recycle the desks! Another way we recycle surplus furniture is to contact local schools (private and public). One local school took several desks this year.

If you wish to contact me, please email bemarshallgreen@marshall.edu.

Margie Phillips
Marshall University