Does Ace Hardware Give Away Pallets

As a home improvement retailer, it’s easy to wonder if Ace Hardware gives away its used shipping pallets for free. After all, this type of store receives many pallets of merchandise or equipment daily. However, Ace Hardware does not list a pallet policy on its website. Combined with independent franchisees owning each store, the only way to know about your local store policy is to ask.

In the rest of this article, we’ll look at why you might want free pallets from Ace Hardware. We’ll also discuss how current market conditions influence a store owner’s decision to give away pallets. Finally, we’ll include some advice about how to ask.

Why might you want free pallets?

If you’re asking about free pallets from Ace Hardware, the chances are that you want to reuse them somehow. For instance, many clever woodworkers use pallets to make cabinets, craft a table, or even frame a sandbox.

Typically, pallets are excellent for repurposing because they often feature clean, sound softwood cut into even-sized boards. Whether you use the pallet as is, take it apart, or nail several together, the possibilities are almost endless. Some people even use worn-out pallets for firewood.

No matter how you plan to use the pallet, getting something for free is always nice. After all, why pay for something brand-new when a used one likely ends up in the landfill if it isn’t repurposed or recycled?

The problem with free pallets.

Once upon a time, we used to drive past a place like Ace Hardware or another retailer and see a lot of unused pallets sitting in the loading area. Or, they might be in a dumpster or other waste management location. Back then, used pallets were often a nuisance that store owners had to manage.

Nowadays, the situation is much different. Since the pandemic’s start, there has been a growing shortage of lumbar and shipping pallets. In turn, the value of each pellet has increased. In other words, pallets that can be reused are no longer a nuisance.

Likewise, pallets that have reached the end of their useful life are recycled more than ever. Pallet recyclers will sometimes break down the pallets and use them to make other things or use good boards to repair broken pallets.

In other words, free pallets are less readily available.

Store owners often must return pallets.

Increasingly, the value of shipping pallets and concerns over sustainability has led companies to require their customers to return them. This allows for an improved supply chain for the wholesaler or manufacturer. It also saves them and the customer money. Some companies even market their pallets as property and enforce their rights.

Large, vertically-integrated retailers also reuse their pallets. Walmart is a famous example of this, and it helps contribute to the famously low prices their customers enjoy. Perhaps that’s why the shipping pallet industry has a very low percentage of pallets ending up in landfills.

It never hurts to ask.

Just because pallets are typically valuable and frequently recycled doesn’t mean you’ll never get free pallets. The only way to know if pallets are available is to ask. You’ll probably want to speak with the general manager for an Ace Hardware location to see if you can have their spare pallets.

Typically, you don’t want to walk into your local Ace store when it’s bustling. Instead, look for your store’s quiet time. This may take some patience, but it’s well worth it. Managers are much more likely to chat with you if they aren’t running from one paying customer to another.

Keep in mind that you can get some pallets at a reduced price. For instance, they might charge you for what it’s worth to a recycler. This is still less expensive than buying a new pallet. Similarly, they might have some broken or steamed pallets. These can be great for a little rustic woodworking or even firewood.

Pristine pallets that have only been used once are rarely available for free in the current climate. However, if you’re flexible, you may still be able to find free pallets at your local Ace Hardware. Just don’t expect them to be the most popular sizes in pristine condition.

And we can’t say it enough — always ask first.

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