Art, painted by volunteers, in the Free Store’s now warehouse. Photo: Marissa Phul.
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Upon opening in a new location, the Free Store is already looking to do more

This September marks the Free Store’s expansion into a new space at 100 Thomas More, as they transition their old location into a warehouse facility.

The Free Store has been located at 647 King Edward since 2012, seeing kitchen equipment, clothes, textbooks, shoes, vacuums, and much more.  With the former location being turned into a warehouse, The Free Store team will wash, sort, pack and deliver all donated and collected items as the new location serves as a space similar to a retail environment. Jonathan Rausseo, the Office of Campus Sustainability manager, says “it’s retail for the planet.” The new location includes a whiteboard where students can write down items they are looking for which the Free Store team will then check for in the warehouse.

The new store front is the manifestation of what the Free Store team has envisioned for quite some time.

Rausseo says this new location is an opportunity to showcase the donated and collected products for what they are, usable goods that often provide relief and happiness to those who walk in the door. In the old location, there was little room to display items and volunteers could rarely guide patrons in the direction of certain items. The new store has shelving units, racks dedicated to specific items, and is only stocked with enough goods to keep it full.

The new location has been provided to the store rent free, while electricity and utilities are covered by the university.

The Free Store’s new home is not just about better organization, Rausseo says it will also allow more time for the team to focus on new endeavors both on campus and with community partners. He said that the better organization will result in less time spent on inventory and searching for particular items, which in turn will leave more time to devote to expanding the presence of the free store so, in his words, “it’s not just a free store, it’s everywhere.”

Initiatives in the works include; leave a book take a book in campus residences, umbrellas near the doors of buildings, care packages for vulnerable people on the streets, a closet of interview clothes for students, and bookshelves in local coffee shops stocked by Free Store books.

The new location has been provided to the Free Store for a trial period of one year, but Rausseo hopes this contract will be extended saying the space will “change how people perceive this stuff so it’s no longer waste.”

Jonathan Rausseo is a member of the Fulcrum Publishing Society’s board of directors.