Almost every post received multiple responses, so a spreadsheet was needed to keep track of who wanted what and when to pick up the item. Things usually went to those who emailed them first, but sometimes they went to those we thought were most in need – like a Brooklyn couple who moved into a new shelved home with two young children last year, Cupboards, storage or electricity. (They took away cabinets, a bookcase, and a dresser.)
Many of the things we donated have been replaced with newer versions. As in the kitchen, a Bronx family took the old cupboards with arched doors and white plastic veneer that we weren't crazy about so our contractor could start demolishing them. They fetched the right devices a few months later when our new ones arrived. The old equipment worked fine, just not with the cabinets we chose to renovate.
Even the most random items – the bottom of a vanity and a 30 pound box of stone tile samples that we had considered for our kitchen tile and picked up from a stone display room – had takers. People came in cars, carts, and on foot.
Peter Yao, a medical student, showed up with a hotel baggage cart. He pulled matching bookshelves from the old bedroom our sons shared for his apartment in Hell's Kitchen – 2.4 miles and a subway ride from our apartment. To take them home, he borrowed a baggage cart from his old Lenox Hill apartment building, rolled it six blocks to us, loaded the bookcases onto the cart, taped them to stop, and rolled them another five blocks to a friend's apartment where Mr. Yao's mother picked her up in her van a few days later. Mr. Yao said he would probably have passed the venture on if the cabinets had cost something.
"If they hadn't been free, I would definitely have thought about it," he said.
One of the great things about our new apartment was the number and quality of fixtures in many of the rooms. It turned out we didn't need a 16×8 foot closet, desk, and bookcase combo, so we posted it on Craigslist. Lee Glenney, a nursing student, had wanted a place to keep the books and papers that crowded his Harlem apartment for a decade. He had searched Craigslist but said most of the listings are corrupted or worse.
“I could tell from the pictures that it was high quality. It was very clear that it wasn't Ikea, ”said Glenney. "My wife was vehemently against everything that was from Ikea."
Given that these cabinets were solid maple, beautifully painted and well made – and since Mr. Glenney worked on boats and docks with his father and knew his way around a jigsaw, he thought he could cut the device to fit it his house fits an office / cat playroom. So last summer my sons loaded his U-Haul with large cabinets that Mr. Glenney reassembled and repainted.