Just two short weeks from now, Allston will look less like a large neighborhood and more like a game board that’s been picked up, shaken, thrown back down and stepped all over. There is no way to quote a reliable statistic saying how many apartments in Allston will change hands or how many students will be moving in, but the pictures will tell the words. Student-heavy streets like Kelton, Pratt, Ashford, and Glenville will have moving trucks double-parked in both directions. Sidewalks will be cluttered with trash, old clothing, empty kegs, and the other detritus that accumulates in college apartments. Well-meaning parents will wrestle furniture up narrow apartment stairwells while their spoiled children lean against the side of the building in flip-flops and designer shades, fumbling around on their iPhones to text their friends and tweet about how much moving sucks.
Other neighborhoods may look like this as well– and the scene may be even worse in front of certain college dorms– but in no way is the bedlam nearly as concentrated as it is in Allston come September 1st. Consequently, the area has become well-known for the bonanza of free secondhand furniture, dinged-up appliances, and shabby chic decor that show up curbside across, around, and throughout the neighborhood once move-in day hits. It’s jokingly called Allston Christmas, but plenty of residents who aren’t moving are serious about using the day to upgrade their apartment furnishings.
With that in mind, a couple of helpful notes to guide you in your furniture scavenging:
- First and foremost, nothing good ever comes from (or on) a used mattress. Bedbugs are a real thing, people. And think twice about couches, chairs, or other cushioned furniture. God only knows what kind of stains lurk underneath the upholstery.
- Mass-produced faux-wood furniture made from cheap, lightweight particle board is probably too flimsy to survive the journey back to your apartment. Leave it on the curb. Wooden furniture should be heavy; if it isn’t, something’s wrong.
- Speaking of wood furniture: remember, real wood can be refinished. Don’t overlook a dirty, damaged kitchen table or bookshelf just because it looks bad. An afternoon of sanding and a couple coats of sealer, and you could have a bargain.
- Nothing that plugs in is guaranteed to work. That giant television on the curb might have been abandoned because its old owners couldn’t take it with them. It could also be there because it doesn’t work anymore. If you waste an hour schlepping it to your house only to plug it in and find it’s broken, don’t be upset. Think about it, what kid would willingly give up a working television?
- MOST IMPORTANTLY, remember to thoroughly wash anything and everything you rescue from the curb on moving day. Better to be safe than sorry…we are dealing with college students here.
Before you wrinkle your nose in disgust and turn away from the idea, just take a moment to look back on all the times you’ve walked down the street and seen a “perfectly good” coffee table put to waste. It may not be a great find in the sale section of Crate&Barrel, but it’s DEFINITELY more than a few steps up from dumpster diving, which apparently is a “hot new trend in America.” Look, whether you jump on the bandwagon or not, we don’t blame you for Christmas shopping in the summer…we blame the economy.
So, will YOU be curb collecting this season? Have any street shopping stories (or secrets) you care to share? We’re all ears!