While definitely not the typical mooch fodder of open bars and swag bags, when Mooch Club caught wind of a store that was entirely made up of free stuff, we knew we had to see this in action. The premise is that ‘one artist’s trash is another douchebag’s treasure.’ Socio-stereotypes aside, we were very pleased to find the entire space douchebag-free (though admittedly none of us dug deeply into the bins of bathroom products). In fact, the entire space was refreshingly staffed by people just wanting to repurpose, recycle, and re-home some perfectly good junk.
The location was easy to find and in a much larger space than expected. According to the website, they have been around for four years, popping up every few months in a different location in varying parts of the city. We strode up, plastic tub loaded with our unwanted goods (which ranged from shoes to dishes to stationary) in hand, and were greeted with a very cheery lady who gladly unloaded the tub and started sorting it immediately. [I even started seeing some of my stuff as we were looking around and got a second chance to make sure I wanted to get rid of it.] The store has been sorted out into shoes and clothing, media (books, magazines, CD’s, DVD’s, tapes, comics, records, and more), children’s goods, household items, decorations, and other sections, but they weren’t defined as much. Though there was the occasional WTF? item, most of the things for not-sale were pretty decent…to the right person.
[Although I do wish I had been the right person for that badass sleeveless TMNT t-shirt.]
The Free Store was started as an art project, not a charity and none of the people we saw not-shopping were looking for things to resell/make a buck on and nobody had a box of things they were hoarding for themselves. You’d think people would be day-after-Thanksgiving crazy, grabbing whatever they could, but apparently when you tell people that they are not required to bring anything and are allowed to take whatever they like, it stops any greediness in its tracks.
Good job, everyone, in being totally cool about everything.
So, in addition to being a place to take your less-wanted items and an awesome place to pick up some cool stuff without having to buy it, the Free Store offers an even better service to our community: proving that an honours system of give what you have, take what you need, would actually work in our selfish society. It feels nice to be able to stick it to the man a bit in getting that awesome comic book or pants, giving your pre-loved book to someone else who will love it, all without stepping into a store, paying for their overhead, and exchanging the ever-important dollar.
For making this freedom easily accessible for the masses, above all else, Mooch Club wants to thank the coordinators of the Free Store. Great Job.
The Free Store will be in operation from now until March 6th, every Tuesday through Friday (10am-6pm) and Saturdays (12am-6pm) at 400 S Peoria St on UIC campus. http://www.freestorechicago.org
[posted by Mr. Danger]