It's hard to explain the full story of Ruth's, so I'm going to point you to her page here, but the short version is that the "store" is a warehouse for teachers. Any grade, any subject. If you're a teacher and your school and/or system paid for a membership, you "shop" free. That's it. Some items have limits, and some are limitless, but you shop. You get a cart/buggy/carriage/whatever-you-call-it-in-your-part-of-the-country, a clipboard with item group numbers, and everything in the store has a group number and a quantity limit (or if there's no limit, that's noted). You mark on your clipboard every time you take something, and you "check out" where they match your items to your checklist. That's it.
It's an amazing story and all the supplies teachers can "purchase" are donated. Donated by companies, by retiring teachers, by citizens who want to help out -- it's incredible. I am not sure there was a thing you could think of that wasn't there, from punched metal circles to bookcases and desks and chairs, pens, pencils, cd players, stamps, batteries, textbooks new and old, crayons, room posters ... you name it! The only requirement is that you have to be able to take it with you right then. And it's free. FREE!
Check out what I was able to get today. This loot would have easily been close to $400 if I'd purchased it myself. And it was -- let me say it again -- FREE.
|6 atlases, one box or banner paper, a file sorter,...|
|an easel-board pad of graph paper, a ream of HP 24# computer paper, 3 6-inch D-ring binders and 3 1.5-inch binders, 10 sheets of poster paper (5 black, 5 white), 2 giant padded envelopes, ...|
|2 sets of bookends, 1 calendar, ...|
|2 calculators, one staple remover, 12 small binder clips, 12 medium binder clips, 12 large binder clips, ...|
|The pile in the living room!|
If we move back to Alabama, I am going to be my own Ruth and start a place like this for the school systems of West Alabama. Ruth's is nothing short of the best place ever, and what a great service to teachers and students -- and to the earth! So many things that are wanted, needed, and used are kept from trash bins. I'm not overly green, but even I admit that this is brilliant. (And really, it's how things should be, don'tcha think?)
Well, okay. It's not The Container Store. So maybe it's the second best place ever.