In the past few weeks, we have gotten two long benches in place in the garage for doing teardown work. Even with that, we’re getting so many terrific volunteers that we’re pretty much elbow to elbow. It’s a great problem to have!
If you look at the previous blog entry, from January, the pictures show the one small bench we had for doing teardown, with four people working on it. We have now more than doubled the bench space and the number of volunteers using it. On the teardown benches, we dismantle computers, printers, and other peripherals that are broken or too old to be used for our build program. We break them down to four components: plastic, metal, circuit boards, and mixed. We separate the components and then deliver them to our recycling partners. Some components make us money in recycling, others cost us. So far, we’ve been able to make a bit more money in recycling than we’ve had to spend. The money then goes toward things like paying the rent.
Eventually, the space over on the right will become dedicated to testing and evaluating donated computers and components. We even managed to do a tiny bit of that yesterday.
Meanwhile, in the build room, the tight space story is the same as in the garage. A few months back, four tables were enough working space for doing builds. Then we had to “adopt” a couple of other tables in the room, as our number of volunteers grew. Yesteday we had so many people showing up to learn that we had to pull in folding tables stored in the garage to provide enough space for everyone to work on. We share this space with PPNA and other groups which use it for meetings and gatherings, so whatever we put up, we have to take down. That’s actually a good thing, as it makes us be better roommates, and enables the community to get more use out of the space. We just may have to look at getting more folding tables to accommodate all our friends and neighbors who want to get geeky. Another good problem to have!
Our garage sale was a great success! We sold dozens of computers and more than ten flat screen monitors, plus a whole bunch of computer components and accessories. We even managed to sell a few printers.
The weather was cold, icy, and quite uncooperative. Nevertheless, hundreds of people turned out. Many were just looking for computer bargains–someone even bought all the telephones we had for sale. But there were plenty of others who were also interested in learning about Free Geek and what we do for the neighborhood and the world. Indeed, meeting and talking with people from the community was the real hallmark of the garage sale’s success.
Gary talks to a couple about a computer, while Al makes sure everything has a price tag, as other potential customers check out our inventory.
A lot of people put in a lot of work in preparation for the garage sale. Computers were built, monitors were tested (and in some cases rejected), components and accessories were sorted, everything had to be priced, posters were made, the word was spread, tables were setup, and everything was put out for sale. We want to thank all of our volunteers for their contributions to making the garage sale happen. A special thanks goes out to Jeff for prepping all the Macintosh equipment, which was quite popular. And an extra special thanks goes to Gary who really took the lead on making sure everything was ready, and for really working with all the people who were interested in our computers. Without the herculean efforts of these two, the garage sale never would have happened.
With the sale done for the year, we’ll be turning our attention to making better use of our space in the garage and to our education programs. We can always use more hands, so come be a volunteer,donate a computer, learn about computers, and be a part of the community.
We will have complete computer systems starting at $40, which includes a monitor (CRT). These refurbished computers are built by our own volunteers. Flat screen monitors will also be available as an upgrade for a modest fee. There will also be Macintoshes for sale, along with printers, mice, scanners, and various other computer components and accessories. All PCs come with Ubuntu Linux already installed and ready to go. And if you are unfamiliar with Ubuntu, we will be offering an introductory class on it in just a few weeks, free with any computer purchase. All proceeds go to supporting Free Geek Twin Cities and our mission of bridging the digital divide and responsible recycling.
We spent this past weekend mostly testing the flat screen LCD monitors we plan to sell to make sure everything is in working order. We also finished selecting the Geek Boxes that we will sell in the garage sale.
So, come to the garage sale and see what we’ve got. Better still, bring a computer to donate and stay and become a volunteer. We always have room for more of both. See you there!