Take It or Leave It at Duke Free Store

Biweekly event offers way to drop off and pick up supplies and other items

Student Madison Barnes oversees the Duke Free Store as Duke community members sort through a variety of items being given away for free. The next tabling event will take place Feb. 26. Photo by Bryan Roth.
Student Madison Barnes oversees the Duke Free Store as Duke community members sort through a variety of items being given away for free. The next tabling event will take place Feb. 26. Photo by Bryan Roth.

Sorting through 4-feet tall plastic bins filled to the brim with binders, folders and other office organizational items, Aurea Gagliardotto and two coworkers from the Duke Clinical Research Institute (DCRI) filled up their arms with items to bring back to their office.

Everything they picked out – binders, dividers, plastic containers – was free.

Gagliardotto, a staff assistant at DCRI, and her colleagues were shopping at the Duke Free Store, a biweekly event that offers an assortment of misfit goods, office supplies and other knickknacks students and employees don't want to keep but are still in useable – and often good – shape.

It’s like a “leave a penny, take a penny” tray where Duke community members can drop off and pick up a wide variety of items. At the most recent Free Store setup on Feb. 12, passersby chose from CD cases, mounting computer screen displays, coding labels and an array of binders.

“We love freebies,” Gagliardotto said, holding a plastic brief case-like container she planned to use at her desk. “It’s easy to find pens and pencils and something we’ll need at our desk later on.”

All students, faculty and staff can donate or take from the Free Store, which is open from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. every other Friday. The next setup will be Feb. 26 just inside the main entry to the Bryan Center, off The Plaza. The store is organized through Duke Recycles in partnership with Sustainable Duke.

While the store takes nearly all donations, volunteers can't accept anything potentially dangerous, alive or illegal. Drop-offs can be made at the store's table on event days. Any Duke-owned property purchased with Duke funds, like computers and office furniture, can't be donated to the Free Store and should be donated through Procurement's Surplus and Storage Program.

For Lola Martin and Angela Hull, finding a place to donate lightly used items from their offices at the Nicholas School of the Environment is what brought them out to the Duke Free Store on Feb. 12. They wanted to find a place to recycle binders and wound up bringing items back with them, too. Martin proudly held a pack of paper lunch bags and mouse pad while Hull showed off a pencil sharpener.

“If it’s reusable, we don’t want to see it tossed out and create more trash,” said Hull, a communications specialist with the Nicholas School’s Office of Development and Alumni Relations.

To stay up to date on what the Duke Free Store has to offer and when events take place, follow the store’s Facebook page.