Swap Meet on Steroids: California Store Gives Away All Items for Free

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If everything’s free, is it still a store? No matter — the Long Beach Free Store just says all its items are 100% off.

That’s right, just walk in, look around, and take items home at no cost. But you should also bring things you no longer want from home to donate to the store for others to pick out — during its grand opening on Saturday, customers showed up toting used CDs, clothing, soft toys, picture frames, even a perfectly good trumpet to give to the store.

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The concept isn’t new. It’s basically a well-coordinated, large-scale swap meet. Or Craigslist “free stuff” listings in physical form. Or an iteration of the “have a penny give a penny, need a penny take a penny” box. Or proof that one man’s trash is another man’s treasure. You get the idea.

The simple concept makes sense environmentally, while swappers can save money — and, as organizers hope, have fun and meet new people. So why don’t more towns have free stores? Probably because to set one up requires free space and a lot of free labor, for something that generates no income to cover basic costs. The Long Beach store is run by volunteers in a room that belongs to a non-profit organization, and opening times are erratic for now. Its website says the opening hours will be posted soon. (via CBS)

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