Now I don't want to blow things out of proportion but we may have accidentally started a world wide phenomenon known as the Free Store. Yes you all know that Free Store, and you might even know how the Free Store got started (if not, here is a blog post from a little while back).But there have been some new developments that are really kind of getting us excited over at the Office of Campus Sustainability.
First, I eluded to a world wide thing. So the story goes like this; a few people come to uOttawa and love the Free Store, they leave Ottawa but can't shake the awesomeness of the store and so they start their own Free Stores somewhere else. That's basically what happened in Quebec, France, and Hong Kong, where up to a dozen Free Stores are now taking root.
Some of these Free Stores we knew about. The Free Store in Grenoble was created by an international student who wanted to bring the Free Store to France. The Free Store at the CÉGEP of Beauce-Appalaches was created by one of our former Katimavik employees who wanted to imitate what she was doing while at uOttawa. And recently, students from the University of Victoria contacted us to learn about how to get a Free Store started and then promptly got one started.
But then we were contacted by a student from a university in Hong Kong who also wanted us to give him some tips. We started thinking about how many other Free Stores were out there and we came across a bunch of articles in French newspapers that were talking about "la Gratuiterie" and credited the idea to a university in Canada.... THAT'S US!!!!
These new Free Stores come in all shapes and sizes, some dedicated to kids, some are just tossed up in a coffee shop. France especially, seems to have an affinity for the whole concept. We were even able to find a political cartoon mentioning the Free Store in it.
Here are some links to some of the articles and the political cartoon:
So what's next?
Well I am glad you asked. After asking around at a few universities, it appears as though the University of Ottawa has the most advanced Free Store of any Canadian or American institution. So we would like to kick it up a notch and create a new Free Store that marries the concept of designer space and second hand items.
We are inspired by the Levis concept store in Sao Paulo, as well as the True Religion stores in Los Angeles. The idea would be to take the second hand items and display as new... because it reality they are new to you.
What do you think? Have any suggestions? We are working on some designs and we hope to build a case to create something like this on campus in the near future.
~jonathan rausseo - campus sustainability manager