Free Market Celebrates Grand Opening

Published in the Independence Declaration
By Shaina Stockton

INDEPENDENCE — The Free Market, a new resource offered by Grayson LandCare in the former Briarpatch Metalworks building in Independence, celebrated their grand opening with an open house and ribbon untying ceremony last Thursday. Grayson LandCare President Kathy Cole used recycled ribbons for the ceremony which were untied instead of cut so the material could be used again — an appropriate alternative, considering the Free Market’s purpose. The new business exists to serve a variety of free materials to the public, and serve as an outlet to alert the public to local events, and skillsets within our community.

The shelves of the market are stocked with items that can be reused, such as wrapping paper, boxes, ribbon, packing materials, egg cartons, containers, magazines, office school and art supplies, toys, and pet items. Everything is free for visitors to take if they have a use for them, and people are encouraged to bring similar items for donation if they no longer need them.

The Free Market is staffed at all times by two volunteers. Donations must be received by a volunteer, and anyone who leaves donations in front of the building after hours or when a volunteer isn’t present will be fined for dumping.

LandCare has also partnered with the Department of Social Services, to offer items to clients in need in a section kept away from the public.
The building was offered to GraysonLandCare by Valerie and Mickey Cowden, for a nominal rent. Their father, the late Mike Cowden, ran Briarpatch Metalworks out of the building for around 25 years, according to Cole. Leftover materials inside the building that were reusable were given to county and school maintenance workers.

Cole also added that this operates as a partnership with the county’s public works department, to keep unnecessary items out of the landfill — thus saving the county money — and increase recycling efforts throughout the county.

Cole thanked everyone who has supported the effort, including those who donated their time, money, and items. “This space has the potential to be a wonderful asset to the community, sharing not only items that are useful but information that is useful,” Cole said. “We need the community help to keep up to date with local events and skillsets that are available here. We need you to teach classes —whatever skills you have, whether it’s making something, repairing something, saving money, or ways to be healthier. We need volunteers so we can expand our hours in the future.
“Also hope you will stop by often as our information and items are always changing,” she continued. “If you need a box of a certain size, when you really need to pop some bubble wrap, or if you’d just like to say hi, we have a comfy couch, so come in and have a seat.”
Following the ceremony, visitors were invited inside for refreshments, and tours of the building.

The Free Market is located at 1173 N. Independence Ave., in Independence. Current hours are Wednesdays and Thursdays from 2-6 p.m., and Fridays and Saturdays from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.