I've been searching Craigslist, antique stores, garage sales, etc. for a mantel for over a year now. I want to make a faux fireplace in the master bedroom, since there is a long blank wall that really needs a focal point. I wanted something fairly small and simple so as not to overwhelm the room, but finding the right piece at the right price has been difficult.
Until earlier this week, that is, when I stopped by one of my favorite thrift stores to drop of some donations. On my way out, I saw a large pile of furniture, televisions, and other miscellaneous; laying on top was a box mantel for a free-standing fireplace unit. I asked the donation staff if these items would be priced and placed in the store for sale, and he said it was all trash he was taking to the dump. When he saw I was interested in the mantle, he said I could have it for free, and even offered to help load it! I only had the Dodge Neon, but after some disassembly and maneuvering, we got that puppy in the car and now it sits in my garage awaiting some revisions and a paint job. Hurray for free!