Years ago, while enjoying a walk, I glanced down an alley and spotted an eight-foot long metal hand-rail leaning next to the homeowner’s trash and recycle bins. I knocked on the front door and a gracious woman greeted me. She told me she was remodeling and didn’t want the railing anymore. Sure, I was welcome to take it, but she warned me it was very heavy.

I still love this decorative wrought-iron railing!

I still love this decorative wrought-iron railing!

At that time, we owned an aged Suburban and our older son still lived at home. I told him about my find. He grimaced, then coerced his buddy into helping him haul the railing home. I spray-painted it turquoise-blue, but the color disintegrated as the metal rusted. The railing still stands in our yard along with other metal ornaments.

Other items I’ve discovered bearing Free signs are the perfectly good La-Z-Boy I located sitting in a dry, clean opened garage with a Free sign, which we’ve had in our basement for 20 years, and a handsome metal file cabinet with brass handles.

Doubtful the Adirondack chair's ( link: ) owner is going to refinish it

Doubtful this Adirondack chair’s owner is going to refinish it

Do you find me odd for asking strangers for their discards? In the case of the La-Z-Boy, it turned out I knew the person. Still, would you feel uncomfortable approaching her? With the file cabinet, I simply returned with my Suburban and transported it home. I gave it a clean and a lick of paint, before adding some magnet strips on which I wrote labels for what is now going to live in each draw. It’s really sturdy and a great size and I’m so happy with how it looks now. The saying One man’s trash is another man’s treasure comes to mind.

My husband and I have put serviceable items, such as a sports-net neither son wanted when they left home, out on our parking strip with a Free sign. They all disappeared in a blink.

These chipped pots look interesting. I'll have to come back ...

These chipped pots hunkering in an alley look interesting. I’ll have to come back …

My aunt and uncle, who once lived in upscale Scarsdale, NY, used to do the same thing. Many of their neighbors put usable items out front, meant for people who came there to work. My aunt and uncle also loved tag sales, what we call garage sales in my neck of the woods.

How about you? Do you enjoy browsing in secondhand stores and garage sales in search of others’ former treasures? Do you prefer vintage things and family hand-me-downs? Do you enjoy giving away items you don’t use anymore?

Amish-made potholders from Lancaster County, PA!

Love these Amish-made potholders from Lancaster County, PA!

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