How to find Free Mannequins, and why a free mannequin “isn’t always free”
If you notice that a retail chain is closing a store ask them what they are doing with their mannequins. Because they just might let you have them for free.
Retailers frequently toss mannequins in dumpsters behind the mall if they aren’t sending the mannequins to another one of their locations. Or if they aren’t calling a mannequin liquidator like Mannequin Madness to come and recycle the mannequins for them.
That is why dumpster diving at a mall is often one of the best places to find a free mannequin. If dumpster diving is not your thing, try searching websites like Freecycle and Craigslist.
However a word (actually a sentence) of caution about free mannequins: If the mannequin has a missing or broken limb, it can be next to impossible to find the replacement part. We know this for a fact because our business at Mannequin Madness is buying and selling used mannequins.
Sometimes the time and effort required to find replacement parts for a “free mannequin” cancels out the savings. That is what we mean by “free isn’t free.”
We have a mannequin boneyard of spare mannequin limbs that we’ve acquired from recycling mannequins from retail chains. We always have customers are coming to our warehouse looking for an arm or hand for the “free” mannequin they acquired from somewhere. Usually they leave disappointed or else they go through great lengths to put a “square peg in a round hole” to make something fit.
If you are using the mannequin for an art project, if it has broken or missing limbs, this probably doesn’t matter to you. (See our Mannequin Art board on Pinterest for ideas)
Or if the mannequin has all its parts and just needs refinishing, then getting a free mannequin is a good value. You can either DIY or use a mannequin refinisher, like Mannequin Recovery who did this before and after project below.
But if you are using the mannequin to SELL something either online or in person – a broken, wobbly mannequin or one with a missing part actually detracts from what you are selling.
For example, if you were house hunting, what would you think if you saw a house with no curb appeal, peeling paint and broken windows? No matter how beautiful the house might be on the inside, you will automatically think less of it based on what you see on the outside.
The same is true when people see a damaged mannequin displaying clothing. It reflects negatively on the goods and the store.
Unfortunately mannequin parts aren’t really interchangeable. Every manufacturer has different types of stands and hardware to attach the limbs to the body. If you have a late model mannequin that was imported from China, there is a good chance that these hand and hardware attachments MIGHT fit. And if your mannequin has a hole in the bottom of the foot, there is a chance that these stands MIGHT fit.
The best alternative to a free mannequin is buying a used or as we like to say, a “pre-owned mannequin.”
A pre-owned mannequin is like buying a pre-owned luxury car. You are getting a brand name product at a deeply reduced price because it was used briefly by someone who had deep pockets.
It happens all the time in retail, especially luxury retailers. They keep a mannequin for a short period of time and get rid of it – not because it is damaged – just because it is no longer the latest fashion. So they call companies like ours to haul away their “unwanted” mannequins.
It is not uncommon for us to sell a mannequin that would normally cost $900- $1,000 brand new for $150-$350. And the mannequin will have all its parts and often will have no (or minimal) signs of wear and tear.