Student site has free stuff

November 09, 1998|By Melissa Corley | Melissa Corley,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

Eric Menhart thinks he understands the plight of today's college students.

"They are not particularly known for their riches," said the 19-year-old junior from his dorm at the University of Maryland, College Park.

So Menhart set up a Web site that offers links to thousands of free items ranging from clothing to software to vitamins. He said his site, called #1 Free Stuff (, provides information on 1,000 to 1,500 items.

"I wanted to develop something not specifically for myself but that would be cool for college students," he explained.

Menhart set up the site nine months ago and runs it buy himself, although he adds that "My suite mates and my girlfriend - they give me constructive criticism."

The site has touched a nerve among its intended audience. #1 Free Stuff's home page gets up to 120,000 hits per month and total hits on all of the site's pages reach more than 500,000 per month.

Menhart, a politics major from Pittsburgh, said he got the idea for the Free Stuff Web site after setting up another site that helps students from his high school class stay in touch.

"I have a good time," Menhart said. "I make a small amount to cover my hosting bills. It's more of a hobby."

To generate content for his site, he spends about 20 hours a week scouring the Web with search engines.

"I find the things that actually are good offers - what I feel are worth it for people to see," he said.

To receive the free items posted on Menhart's site, users usually must fill out simple forms with address information and sometimes answers to survey questions. Other links lead to contest entry forms for bigger items and prizes.

Bridget Walker, a student at the University of West Alabama, visits the site at least twice a week.

"I use it to get free or discounted items that I can use," she said. "The best thing about it is that it has new items added every week."

The weirdest thing on Menhart's site?

"There's this incredibly goofy item," he said, for surfers willing to download a company's software and provide feedback to the publisher.

"It's this beanie with springs at the top and with little antlers and these tweety birds. I was quite impressed." he said.

Free stuff sites

You can find free stuff here:

#1 Free Stuff:


Fat Cat Cafe:

Pub Date: 11/09/98

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