Sleeper sofas. Infant car seats. Old computers. If you're playing the "Pyramid" game show, the answer would be, "Things you can't give away."
Just ask Susan Meyer. The St. Anthony resident and college professor tried to unload her big, old 26-inch TV on her students, friends with cabins, and even her mom, whose console TV is fading. "I keep telling her I'll bring it down," Meyer said. "But she's not going for it. I'm getting desperate."
The guilt from being a throwaway society makes us think that everything deserves a second, third or fourth life. When an item doesn't sell on Craigslist or at a garage sale, it's offered to friends or relatives. If that doesn't work, people call a charity. And then they call another and another until giving up.
When David Clark of Eden Prairie couldn't get rid of a 15-year-old treadmill at 2nd Wind Sports, Goodwill or the Disabled American Veterans, he asked me. After a search, I found several charities that take them, as long as they're in working order.
Besides exercise equipment, readers tweeted other examples of common household items that are difficult to get rid of. I found at least one solution for each of the top 10 most unwanted items. Some of the charities listed even pick up. Call for details and restrictions.
Artificial Christmas trees
St. Vincent de Paul thrift store (Mpls., 612-722-7882) accepts them now, but most charities such as Goodwill or Salvation Army won't start accepting them until October.
Child Care Choices (St. Cloud, 1-800-288-8549, www.childcare choices.net), which provides services and support to child-care providers and families, accepts functioning computers up to four years old. St. Vincent de Paul (see above) accepts towers and laptops and will even wipe hard drives clean. Monitors are not accepted. Also check with churches and small schools.
Very few charities accept these due to liability issues and numerous recalls. Call United Way (211) for charities in your area. In Minneapolis, for example, Tapestry Families (612-823-0301, www.tapestryfamilies.org) accepts car seats less than five years old and cribs less than 10 years old.
Most entertainment centers purchased as ready-to-assemble units cannot usually be donated because they damage easily when moved. Arc's Value Village (four locations, www.arcsvaluevillage.org), Bibles for Missions thrift store (Crystal, 763-522-1786, www.biblesformissions .org) and Salvation Army (10 locations, 612-332-5855 for pickup) will take them if they're in good condition.
Retailers such as 2nd Wind or Play It Again Sports want equipment that is less than a decade old, in good working order and a higher-end brand (units sold at discount stores are usually refused). Models in working order are accepted at Salvation Army (see above), Lupus Foundation (651-748-0400, www.lupuspickup.org) and St. Vincent de Paul (see above).
No one wants a mattress with stains or rips, but those in excellent condition might be accepted by Bibles for Missions (see above). Bridging (952-888-1105, www.bridging.org) and Mary's Wish (Waconia, 952-442-2268, www.maryswish.org). To get rid of a mattress in poor condition, check with your garbage hauler, the county or the retailer when buying a new one.
Alliance Housing Inc. (Mpls., 612-872-2310, www.alliance housinginc.org) and Salvation Army (see above) accept working units.
Many small charities listed at www.startribune/a443 occasionally accept office furniture. Also try Furnish Office & Home (www.furnishofficeandhome.com) and click on "donate" on the online form.
Bridging, Mary's Wish, Salvation Army and St. Vincent de Paul (see above for each) will accept sleeper sofas in good, odor-free condition as long as the mattress is still intact.
Working TVs are accepted by Bridging, St. Vincent de Paul, Salvation Army (five years old or newer), Lupus Foundation (no consoles or projection TVs) and Marie Sandvik Center (612-870-9617, www.mariesandvikcenter.org). Sandvik also accepts VCRs and tape players. Check county recycling centers for non-working TVs. Or drop off any TV 26 inches or smaller at a Best Buy store, pay a $10 recycling fee but also receive a $10 Best Buy gift card in return. A similar program exists for computers.