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Show Me the Money: Spinning 'Round and 'Round to Help Animals

Unwanted CDs benefit upstate New York SPCA

It didn’t start with a vision, exactly. It started with a bunch of scratchy CDs.

People looking to sell their used CDs would bring stacks of them to Bill Boehm’s store in upstate New York, the CD Exchange, which he operated for 11 years before closing in 2008. The problem was that he couldn’t take them all. “I’m really picky,” Boehm says, noting that he had earned a reputation for selling only like-new merchandise. Sometimes the CDs were simply too beat up to meet his standards. Other times it was a case of too much supply, not enough demand; he’d look at certain titles and say, “I already have 10 of these, and I haven’t sold one in a year, so I don’t need any more.”

Most customers took the rejection in stride, Boehm says, but some “would be like, ‘You know what? I don’t even want these things. Just chuck ’em for me.’” Knowing that CDs last forever in a landfill, and that even the scratched ones usually play pretty well, Boehm hated to throw them away. So he started keeping a stack of the rejects on the counter next to his cash register, along with a sign inviting people to help themselves.

About four years ago, he decided it would be “cool” to sell those less-than-desirable CDs for a nominal price—say, 50 cents or $1—and donate the proceeds to a charity. Boehm’s wife, Jen, suggested the SPCA Serving Erie County in nearby Tonawanda, N.Y., where the couple had adopted their dog, Mollie.

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