Dairies use them to transport milk from the bottler to your local grocery store.

College students use them to store books. I've always heard that it was illegal to use them for anything other than transporting milk; if this is really so, it's the dumbest thing I've ever heard of.

rougevert points out what should've been obvious to me: they are, in his words, "the universal portable chair, popular with the homeless and the young especially." Because who, when you really get down to it, doesn't enjoy a good sit?
These things are amazingly versatile, easy to find, and uh... free. To acquire some, simply lurk around some alleys in the middle of the night, particularly in the restaurant district. They ought to be found placed near the rear doors, grab only what you need, sneak home.

They may be stacked vertically with the open side facing away from the wall to form a cubbyhole sort of shelving book case, or simply as a little box/drawer to store things in, such as socks. Another use is implementing them as a stool/ladder of adjustable height, due to their rugged and highly stackable construction. Graffiti writers favor crates when painting trains to compensate for the high ground clearance of most boxcars, plus they are light and easy to carry. This only begins to touch on the possibilities really.

Oh, and please avoid the sour attempts of department stores to capitalize off the milk crate versatility factor by selling faux versions, they are of vastly inferior construction and often fail to stack properly.

We old people use them to store our LPs in. The dairy companies (at least in Canada) eventually made them a bit smaller, so that vinyl records would no longer stack inside. Finding the old larger size at a yard sale or something used to be a big score.

Nowadays, our vinyl records and the milk crates they're stacked in gather dust in the corner. We download the albums from Napster and feel justified in that we do *own* the album, we just can't listen to it anymore, since the turntable is long since thrown away.

Milk crates are wonderful wonderful things. They are modular, readily available, and pretty close to indestructable. The imitation milk crates sold at office supply stores and the like are, well, crap. And you can't buy real milk crates through normal retail channels. Yes, stealing is what many people would consider "bad" - it is not suddenly different just because you can't buy said product. And *gasp* some people find stealing to be wrong!

Until now.

For some reason, Duluth Trading Company decided to send me a catalog - mostly tools, tool accessories, lots of fun toys for contractors. All sorts of canvas and suede storage units to fit in five gallon buckets. And then there was the Crate Boss w/o Crate - a storage system designed around a milk crate, available with and without the milk crate. I looked again - the milk crate was available separately!

For a mere $12.99 plus shipping (Shipping is surprisingly reasonable - it is based on dollar value of purchase and caps out at $13.50), you can finally have your very own, legal, milk crates, in sexy black! (Yes, for the record, these are real milk crates... not those imitation ones. yay!)

Go to www.duluthtrading.com and search for "Black 16-quart Crate".

Now go return all that stolen property to the stores that had to pay the deposit on it.

This is how things are in the USA. Tell me a story about milk crates.

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