give ovation

Give-away shop

Give-away shops, freeshops, or free stores are second-hand stores where all goods are free. They are similar to charity shops, only everything is available at no cost. Whether it is a book, a piece of furniture, a garment or a household item, it is all freely given away. They reflect a switch over from scarcity to abundance brought about by increased material wealth due to technological advances. The idea of free goods still carries some stigma, so many people who use these shops are those who are led to them either by need (financially poor, such as students, single parents and the elderly) or by conviction (anti-capitalists).

A free store (typically pronounced "FREE-store") is a temporary market where people exchange goods and services outside of a money-based economy. The free store is a form of constructive direct action that provides a shopping alternative to the capitalist framework. The roots of the "free store" lie in the anarchist movement. Today the idea is kept alive by the new generations of environmentalists who view the idea as an intriguing way to raise awareness about consumer culture and to promote the reuse of commodities. Although free stores have been common in the United States since the 1960s, the freegan movement has inspired the establishment of more free stores.


  • Give-away shops are often housed in squats. Naturally the shops don't make any profit, and are run by volunteers only.
  • There are quite a lot of give-away shops in Northern European towns and cities, especially in the Netherlands and Germany.
  • In the UK, temporary-type Free Shops (sometimes called Swap Shops) are held sporadically around the country. An example of a more-regular one is in Norwich where a Free Shop has been held on the 8th of each month in Norwich city centre, from 10AM until 4PM, since June 2004. It is organised by the Norwich Anarchists.
  • In the 1960s, the 'hippies' of the Haight-Ashbury district of San Francisco, California, USA opened many "free stores" to supply their growing population with clothes, shoes, and other personal items.
  • Some rural towns in the US, especially in New England, will have a swap-shed at the local dump. Useable but unwanted items will be left there for anyone to take.

Similar phenomena

In the United States, really really free market groups organize periodic "market days" in city parks. Participants are encouraged to share unneeded items, food, skills and talents (entertainment, haircutting, etc.), to clean up after themselves and to take home any of their own items they were unable to give away during the event. In other cases, used goods are picked up from the donors' homes, thus eliminating overhead costs. Donors are often not motivated by financial need or strictly anti-capitalist conviction, but by a desire to get rid of what would otherwise be garbage without adding it to landfills.

Another recent development in the give-away shop movement is the creation of the Freecycle Network that was started in Arizona for the purpose of connecting people who had extra belongings to get rid of and people who needed something, organized as discussion/distribution lists, usually hosted on one of the free websites.

See also

External links

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