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Free Stores Offer an Alternative to the Exploitative Capitalist Economy

We all love a good bargain, and are sometimes willing to go to great lengths to secure one. But for a few hours at Woodbine*, an experimental hub in Ridgewood, Queens, New York, thrifting was entirely free and there wasn’t a catch. Perhaps unsurprisingly, a flood of people showed up to the space 30 minutes before its “Free Store” event was supposed to begin.

At a free store, people are encouraged to bring things they no longer need, but are too nice to throw away, and take things they want or need without any questions asked. It’s meant to be an experimental space for building an economy based in solidarity, not sales or barter, and to harness the immense amounts of waste and excess generated in capitalist economies. Pop-up models encourage people to congregate in one space on a particular day, and the momentary disruption of norms generates a buzzy atmosphere that can be conducive for building community.

Putting the free…

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