The Free Store

flickr photo shared by Vanessa Marie Hernandez under a Creative Commons ( BY-NC ) license


It´s time to become a shopkeeper! Yes, you can do it!

It is going to be the shop of everyone's dreams - a shop where everything is free. Well, almost free.. While one might not find the latest electronic gadgets in this store and it does not have to be open 24/7, this can be a place where some real good surprises are found to be hiding!

The free store is a place where everyone is welcome to bring anything that they think someone else might find useful, as a gift. While there is no specified cost of the items, people are generally welcome to donate something, whether financial or human resources (there might be some form of costs to run the store).

Let’s have fun and start small by creating a space to exchange stuff we no longer use or need. Maybe this simple experiment will even inspire others in your local area - get ready for a world of  surprises!

Activity Type

Individual or group / Experiential


1 day to establish, many days for maintenance, 1 month for observation.

Learning Outcomes

  • To learn the concept of free stores by doing

  • To experience gift economy

  • To understand local possibilities for sharing in your area


Required Materials and Tools:

  • Various tools and materials to create a space for your free store

Step-by-Step Instructions:

  1. Find a location that many people in your area will find easy to reach. A good location is normally one where many people including yourself, pass by in their daily routine. Your own front yard might be as good a place as any!

  2. Design and build an appealing storage place. It might be a piece of furniture, a sheltered cart, table, etc. We don’t really expect you to build a whole shop, but you do need to have a designated space - which can be completely improvised; what matters is that people know that they can leave and take stuff.

  3. Do the necessary advertising on site and in the surrounding area. Remember to explain the core principles of your store e.g. it is about sharing and recycling and caring! Spice up the information with intriguing slogans or quotes.

  4. Put at least some of your own possessions in the store . You may find them by cleaning up your room, house, garage, etc.

  5. Invite people to visit, to leave stuff and to receive gifts. Start with your friends and use the social media and/or local noticeboards to remind people about this opportunity. It will take a few weeks to see the results of this idea - be patient.



Do the reflection after 1 month of opening the free store!

  • How is your Free Store operating at the moment?

  • What challenges have you faced?

  • Do you see the benefits of exchanging things you do not need with other people who might need them?

  • What has been the impression from the locals?

  • Reflect on the benefits on an economic, ecological and social level:

    • Did you make any new contacts / friendships?

    • Did you manage to save up some money?

    • Do you think you managed to reduce your ecological footprint?

Instructions for Submission

Upload 1 photo of the Free Store and submit your written reflection in Moodle (so that your peers can give you feedback). Instructions on how to upload a picture in Moodle or submit your written reflection can be found here: Instructions on Submission&Uploading

Instructions for Assessment

Provide feedback to at least one participant that has done this activity. Instructions on providing feedback can be found here: Instructions on Feedback

Tried an activity? Give us feedback!

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