City File—Issue #2
Issue: This selection for the City File started with a simple question from a reader who asked if the City of Cincinnati would pick up her old couch. The short answer is yes. More on City pickup and some options to repurpose the couch are below. Read to the end to discover a hidden gem from a well-known name in resale.
City of Cincinnati
Yes, the City will take that couch for you.
If you live within the City of Cincinnati limits, the City will pick it up for free (or if you want to point out your tax obligation, it’s prepaid). However, you must get it to the curb. You can call 591-6000 to schedule a pick up on your regular trash collection day. The City will pick up five items for you. If you have any questions about what you can put out, it is useful to call. The day I called, I was only on hold for only 5 minutes, and the lady who answered was very helpful. She explained that they can usually schedule a pickup for the following week. It may vary, however, depending on the number of requests. You can also schedule a pickup using the Fix It Cincy app on your phone.
The City will not pick up your couch if you live in a building with more than four units or a mixed-use building, meaning there is a business in the building. Also, the City will not pick up the couch from a business.
City of Cincinnati collection – schedule on your regular trash collection day
Call 591-6000 to schedule
Or use the FIx It Cincy app
New Life Furniture Bank
If the couch is in decent shape, consider New Life Furniture Bank. New Life is a faith-based non-profit organization that grew out of the Milford United Methodist Church after starting in the garage of their founder. As the name implies, New Life collects gently used furniture and delivers the items directly to individuals and families in need. New Life is the only registered furniture bank in the area. They work through 24 local agencies to identify families in need of furniture and other household items. As Susan Flynn, Community Outreach Coordinator, explains, they are, “the last piece of the puzzle,” for families in need. They assist families leaving homelessness and individuals aging out of foster care, for example.
If your couch is free of stains, rips, tears and pet hair, it is a good candidate for New Life Furniture Bank. They have an amazing full-time moving staff, per Flynn, who makes deliveries in the morning and pickups in the afternoon. If the couch is in your attic or basement, they will get it for you. The organization requests a $25 donation, but it is just a suggestion, Flynn explains. But seriously, if that couch is in your basement or attic, isn’t that worth it?
Last year, New Life helped 850 families set up households. Their goal for this year is 1,000. So, consider them for your gently worn couch or furniture.
Maybe your couch has value and you would like to sell it, but still have charitable goals. Legacies, a charitable consignment store, is another great option. Legacies accepts a myriad of items, including furniture, art, antiques, accessories, and other household items, and sells them at their store in Hyde Park Plaza. Consignment means that a store sells an item for you and takes a percentage of the profit (as if your couch has an agent).
Sales at Legacies benefit Cancer Support Community of Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky. The proceeds fund 200 free programs. If you would like to consign a couch with Legacies, email a picture to Legacies at email@example.com (you can stop by the store with a picture, but you should call in advance). Check the website for instructions on consigning other items. If accepted, an agreement is signed, and the net proceeds are split 50/50 between Legacies and the consigner.
firstname.lastname@example.org – to send a couch picture to be reviewed for consignment. Check website for instructions on consigning other types of items.
Ohio Valley Goodwill Industries
The name Goodwill is synonymous with donations and a sense of charitability. People sometimes use the name for any resale or thrift store. The actual organization is important because money raised by Goodwill funds employment and training programs for individuals with disabilities and other barriers to employment.
A couch going to Goodwill can have more wear than New Life Furniture Bank or Legacies. If you take the couch to Goodwill, the money you help raise goes directly to the employment and training programs, as well as finding a new home for that old couch. Michael Flannery, Public Information Officer for Ohio Valley Goodwill Industries, stresses that your gift can make an impact on someone’s life the next day. They have 33 donation locations in their service area.
Through Flannery, I discovered a lesser known treasure at Goodwill — the As-Is Auction. The old couch that does not find a buyer in the regular store may get another chance at repurposing in the As-Is Auction. Every Tuesday and Thursday at 8:00 a.m., Goodwill auctions some items that they cannot sell in the regular store on their Springdale campus. Flannery further explains, “When I started working at Goodwill one of the first things I learned is that the donations people give to Goodwill are taken very seriously. These are gifts. Gifts that people expect to use to help people with disabilities and homeless veterans. And Goodwill does everything it can to make sure that gift is used for that intended purpose. So, in this case, we’re talking about a couch. Well a couch, or any piece of furniture, that doesn’t sell in one of our retail stores is moved to our As-Is Auction where it's sold to the highest bidder. It’s not only another chance for the donation to be used as it was intended but it also means even bigger bargains to the public than the retail stores."
I went out to Goodwill one morning to check out the As-Is Auction myself (pictures above). The auction attracts a good crowd. According to Flannery, attendees can include individuals from other countries buying items to take home, operators of other thrift stores, and people who repurpose furniture. The As-Is Auction includes a vast and ever-changing selection of items, including single items and large lots. Paul Thomas, Goodwill auction staff, told me that recent items have included a kayak, farm equipment, and a 1890s red velvet autograph book. Despite the jumble and variety of items for sale, it is orderly and professional. I recommend checking out an As-Is Auction if you are interested in sourcing a variety of materials for repurposing or are just curious. Overall, it is heartening to know that your donation could have a third chance at being repurposed through Goodwill industries.
Ohio Valley Goodwill Industries
Tuesday & Thursday, 8:00 a.m.
10600 Springfield Pike
Cincinnati, Ohio 45215
These are highlights of a few options. What is your favorite place to repurpose a couch or other household items? Let us know in the comments below – discussion encouraged!
City File stories are based on the reporting, observations, and opinions of City Ombudsman, based on the best available information at the time. Please refer to the general disclaimer and terms of service for additional information.