When you get married, you get presents. Presents are awesome. Getting married to a great woman is also awesome. So don’t think that loving presents somehow takes away from the love I have for my wife. Okay? Point is, you get some great gifts.
For our wedding, we registered for and received dishes from Crate & Barrel. These plates and bowls and mugs and saucers have been through a lot. A couple were chipped. One was cracked. Every time I ate something hot out of it, I could hear the crack grow. I expected it to split at any moment and for my food to fall everywhere.
Why did I keep using it? Because I like to live on the edge.
After six years, it was time we moved on. But how do you get kick ass dishes without paying for them and without remarrying? (I considered marrying again. But then I realized there was no way I’d be able to trick another woman into falling for me.)
I like to play this game where I sell things and buy something else with the money and then say it’s free. Ashley, my wife, who has an MBA in finance, has to explain to me that it’s not free. Something about sunk costs. Although accurate, it’s a bit of a buzz kill.
So for purposes of this blog, let’s just ignore sunk costs and say that this is a way to get free dishes.
How to Get Free Dishes
The first thing you want to do is sell the old dishes. You could try Craigslist. You could try LetGo or OfferUp. You could try a garage sale. Or even go back in time and try eBay. But you’re not going to get a lot and all of these options involve working with potential creeps.
The best place I found for dishes was a site called Replacements, Ltd.
This may sound like I’m shilling for them, but I’m not. (However, if Replacements, Ltd. wants to sponsor this blog, just message me, I’ll happily oblige.)
Replacements sells out-of-production dishes. When we chipped one of our bowls, we looked at their site to replace it. Unfortunately, they didn’t have any in stock and we’ve never seen them with any.
So when it came down to get rid of our dishes, I reached out to see if they were buying.
How to Sell Your Dishes to Replacements
Request an offer sheet. This is the first step to free dishes. Go to the Replacements site. And go to the SELL TO US FORM.
Fill out the information. Then find your dish pattern. They will email you a PDF outlining how much they will pay for each dish in your set. The value is based on their existing inventory and likely the number of people interested in purchasing this pattern.
What’s important to understand about the offer sheet is it’s not a guaranteed price. The offer sheet is just the highest price they will pay. They expect you to ship them so they can examine them first. Once they’ve looked over the dishes, they send you a final offer. If you don’t like it, they ship it back. You’re on the hook for shipping both ways.
So it can be a gamble. What we did was look at the offer, add up how much we’d get if they bought them all. We subtracted shipping and packaging to determine if the amount was worth the time and effort. And did we think we could better selling them somewhere else.
For us, it was worth it.
Clean the dishes. The amount they pay you for the dishes is based on their condition. So the more you get for the old dishes, the more you can spend on your free dishes. If they are chipped or cracked, they won’t take them. If they’re filthy or scratched, they’ll pay you less. Because of the finish on our dishes, we would often get these gray scratches from where they rubbed against each other. Sometimes you’ll get gray scratches on white dishes from your silverware rubbing against them.
The best thing to use is Bar Keepers Friend. You just get a wet dish cloth. Rub on Bar Keeper’s Friend. Wait a few minutes, then rub it off. It removed all of the scratches. The dishes looked brand new. We almost decided to keep them.
Box up the dishes. Be sure to use a ton of newspaper and bubble wrap because you don’t want to break the dishes.
Ship them. Shipping is expensive on a box or two of dishes. Be sure to get insurance for the amount on the offer sheet. The great thing about Replacements is that if your dishes show up broken, they’ll file the claim with the Post Office on your behalf.
Now You Wait
Replacements says they take five days to examine your dishes. It took a week for the dishes to arrive at their offices. Then a little over a week to hear from Replacements. So the five days estimate is a little low. Expect a week or longer.
They emailed us an invoice that laid out how much they were paying for everything. They gave us the full offer price on nearly all of our dishes. A few mugs broke in transit. They offered us less than the full offer price on one dish. And then there were two saucers they weren’t going to take because the matching mugs broke. So they asked if we wanted them back and we declined.
We accepted the offer. We sent them the information about the postal insurance and they filed the claim for us on the broken mugs.
This was a big risk because we weren’t sure if everything was going to break. Or if Replacements was going to turn their nose up to all of our dishes. But ultimately, we ended up getting a check from them for more money than our family paid for the dishes originally.
We went straight to Crate & Barrel and bought a new set of dishes and silverware. (These are our free dishes!) The money from Replacements covered all but about $50 of the silverware.
I went to Replacements site recently to see what they were selling our dishes for. They were selling them for twice what they paid us and were nearly out of stock again.
If we’re lucky, we’ll just keep doing this every time we want free dishes in the future.