With the disappearance of credit card marketers on college campuses, how does one manage to score all those freebies? From school tee shirts and baseball caps to mascot-themed key chains and beer mugs, where can a college student turn to for giveaways? With help from my superb research assistant, Erica, a recent graduate of the University of Missouri (where she, admittedly, loaded up on bank swag), we bring you some alternative strategies.
Commercial radio events: Check out Web sites for local radio stations to view their calendar of events. They may have promotional events coming up at local restaurants, venues or shops…and you can pretty much guarantee you’ll go home with a handful of treasures.
Freshman orientation: Most campuses have numerous booths set up the week before school starts, as students move in, giving away free move-in tools, kitchen utensils, school supplies, etc., all with trademarks of student organizations or local companies that want to get the word out.
Sporting events: As sports season ramps up, stop by the parking lot where folks are tailgating before a big game. Food and beverage companies can often be found handing out free drinks, food and random promotional material. When Erica was in school, she remembers Vitamin Water would hand out drinks out by the dozen on the way to a football game.
U-Haul centers: To target packed crowds, local vendors often set up tables near U-Haul outlets and other moving centers and give out free shirts, hats and other tchotchkes to promote their business.
Wal-mart: The world’s biggest retailer offers daily online freebies, from samples of makeup to paper towels, shampoo and detergent. A link on the site takes you to an online form where you fill in your name, mailing address, e-mail, etc., as well as a very small questionnaire, asking you about product preferences, that you have to fill out before you can earn the swag.
Craigslist: The site will sometimes have a category in various cities called “Free.” Giveaways I’ve seen recently include a futon, bunk beds and an office desk, among other items. Not a bad way to shop for your dorm!
Freecycle.org: Here you can search for free local household giveaways – from art supplies to furniture, used video games and more.
Readers, have you seen other ways to score “swag”? If so, don’t keep them to yourself. Share them in the comments below!