The Free Market -A “Rescue Shelter” for Unwanted Goods

Almost 5 years after we opened, there are still many people who do not understand what we do!  Our primary goal is to keep useful items OUT of the landfill and to find the people who can use them.  We do this for free by using volunteer labor and putting a donation box by the door.  Some of our regulars are in the habit of dropping a dollar or two in the box as they come in; others are so pleased with something they found that they will put in a larger bill as they leave.  The most current statistics show that, on average, 59 people come in every 4-hour shift that we are open; 9 of them bring donated items; 51 take something; and we get $52 in the donation box. 

Now that we are receiving unwanted items from Walmart, we often get unusual things that few people could use; then we put in extra time to find the right “home” for it.  Recently, Walmart gave us a large quantity of fondant, used to cover and decorate wedding cakes.  After several inquiries, we found someone who makes wedding cakes often and was absolutely thrilled to get these supplies for free.  Some things do have to be thrown away, for safety or health reasons; but we make every attempt to recycle before putting things in the trash.  

There is another entire economy that happens on the loading dock!  We ask people to leave large items, such as furniture or building supplies, on the dock as we have limited space inside.  It usually disappears within hours!  Local people have learned to “cruise” the dock as they drive by, because you never know what treasures you may find.

Why do people volunteer for us?  Because it is very satisfying to see someone find just what they need, or be delighted by an old CD or record, or pick up art supplies and then show us what they have made.  And we make lots of friends!  Please stop by and see us—we are open 10-2 on Thursday, Friday and Saturday.

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