This past weekend we had the chance to check out our city’s monthly summer Really Really Free Market — as in, yes, everything really, really is free — and we’re digging this latest urban trend. Really Really Free Markets are communal spaces where anyone can bring anything to share — from food, skills, talents, to homegoods, clothing, kids’ items, and pretty much anything else you can dream of — and the only caveat is that absolustely under all circumstances everything is free to whomever wants it. That means no selling, bartering, trading, or any other kind of weighted exchange is allowed. Once you bring it to the Really Really Free Market, it’s not solely your possession anymore — it’s anyone’s and everyone’s.
We were just looking for something inexpensive (read: free!) to do for an afternoon with our kids and a friend suggested it. So we got our best hipster duds on, did a quick once-over of our house to see what we could bring to share, and headed out. The day we went was still during that horiffic heat wave most of the country has been enduring for most of the summer, so the turnout wasn’t as large as the Facebook group photos had illustrated from past events. Yet over the roughly hour-and-a-half we were there, a steady crawl of participants kept coming in, showing signs of sustainability. The whole thing is a giant DIY event, which made it border on the edge of festival as well as event.
So, based on our experience, here are 4 reasons you should think about attending your community’s next Really Really Free Market (or maybe why you should start one in your town if there isn’t one already!):
They Are For Everyone
At first, we were a bit intimidated by the Market — we didn’t know anyone in the Facebook group, it seemed a bit more crunchy than we usually lean, and we didn’t want to be stepping on anyone’s toes by crashing their party, especially since we’d be bringing our very small children with us. This was not the case at all. We were hardly the only ones there with small kids, no one judged the small amount of things we rounded up to bring, and there were all kinds of people there sharing what they have. We couldn’t stay long due to the heat, but we were greeted with friendly, encouraging faces everywhere we turned.
Building And Strengthening Your Community
Creating a mutual space to share whatever excess you may have might sound like something from old world Russia, but really, it’s just participating in your greater community by building bonds of trust between neighbors, both literal and figurative. We didn’t have much time to round things up to take before the Market began, so our contribution was random at best, but we gained a real sense of helping out our fellow people. From the baby stuff our kids have outgrown which went to a woman due with her first child next month and who had literally nothing for that coming baby, to the fabric and patterns going to a community center, and to the clothes that no longer fit going to a large family of children trying to outfit everyone for the upcoming school year, there was a real sense of pulling together in difficult times to just be that helping hand we all struggle so hard to ask for.
Recycling At Its Best
This is the heart of recycling — bringing things you no longer want or need to a space where others can pick them up, free of charge. No middleman of thrift stores or donation sites, no throwing things out because your local recycling program doesn’t take them, no waiting forever for something to sell or even be claimed for free on Craigslist. You just take it there, set it out with everyone else’s stuff, and bid it adieu on to its next life while you enjoy the talents and culinary efforts of the other participants.
At the end of the day, who doesn’t love free stuff? As long as you go in with a discerning eye, you can come up with a great deal of goodies for nothing more than the effort it will take to get it home. For DIYers, the possibilites of furniture, decor, or crafting projects can open up to you in a whole new way if the materials come at no cost to you. We came away mostly with books, some vegetables, and a couple of things for the kids, but we weren’t really looking to bring anything back with us, so it’s still a win. There were plenty of items that could be used in a multitude of ways, and if you have enough time to let your creativity run wild then a Really Really Free Market could be just the place to let that happen.
Have you had any experiences with a Really Really Free Market? Tell us your tales in the comments below!