LandCare’s Free Market opens in Independence

Grayson LandCare has signed a one-year lease for the former Briarpatch Metalworks building on N. Independence Avenue, where the organization is offering a new community resource: the Free Market.

Kathy Cole, Grayson LandCare President, announced the new project during the Board of Supervisors meeting on August 10th. The Free Market, which opened on August 31, offers a variety of free resources to people who need them, and encourages creative use of everyday items that would normally go into the landfill. The store will offer items that could not be sold but are still useful, such as packing boxes and filler, office and art supplies, fabric and yarn scraps, canning jars, small wood scraps, plastic grocery bags, reusable totes, and other reusable items.

“This fulfills a dream I’ve had for a long time — to create a physical place for people to give what they have and don’t need to someone who needs it,” said Cole. The facility is a physical embodiment of “one person’s trash is another person’s treasure.” Cardboard boxes, for example, could be re-used to pack items for moving; or leftover office and art supplies could be repurposed by a student or a teacher, saving them money.

“We will be careful about the items we take, because we don’t want this to become a junk shop,” Cole explained. The market will not accept items such as clothing, furniture or books, which there is already a market for in thrift stores and flea markets. No item will be accepted without approval, and people who simply drop off items at the building will be fined for dumping.

After meeting with the Department of Social Services, Cole agreed to accept special items such as kitchenware and other household items for families in need. This inventory will be kept in a small out of the way section of the building, and will be available to these families. “If someone presents a letter from Social Services, they will have access to these items,” Cole told the Board.

Additionally, the Free Market will offer demonstrations and classes on upcycling items into crafts and information about local skillsets and services such as babysitting, small engine repair, garden plowing, mowing, and clothing alterations. “We hope to supplement word-of-mouth with a bulletin board where people can easily find people to hire for various chores and services.

“The goals of this new initiative are to share useful items with people who need them, to foster a sense of community and mutual helpfulness, to help people earn extra money using their skills and equipment, to bring new life to an empty building, and to keep more items out of the landfill (thus saving the county money),” Cole said.

A welcome addition to the Free Market’s assets is a one-year internship from Appalachian State University’s Health Promotion department. Colette Nester will be offering health screening and counseling one-two days a week and scheduling health-related classes and walking clubs, working to make our citizens healthier.

The Free Market’s grand opening is scheduled for Thursday, September 14th at 1:30 pm. Refreshments will be served, and all are invited. Hours of operation are Wednesday 2-6, Thursday 2-6, Friday 9-3, and Saturday 9-1. Hours may be expanded as more volunteers are trained.

At the meeting, Cole also shared that Colette Nester, who is studying for her BS in Health Promotion through Appalachian State, was recently approved for an internship at the Free Market. Nester will be available at the market one to two days per week, where she will offer health screenings, classes, and a walking club.

For more information about the Free Market, check out the Facebook Page or contact Kathy Cole at info@graysonlandcare.org