SHEPHERDSTOWN, W.Va. — The Shepherdstown Really Really Free Market can be a magical place, according to Robert Glenn, one of the founders of the seasonal marketplace.
“I work at a restaurant and one day at the market, a chef’s hat blew in front of me – it may have been a sign,” he said Sunday as the market kicked off its 2015 season.
At the Really Really Free Market, people bring items they no longer want, display them on tables and folks can take what they want for free – really. No money changes hands.
“It’s a social space as opposed to an economic space,” added Brandon Mason, another founder of the market.
There are some restrictions, like no toxic substances, tires or old children’s car seats. But clothes, toys and household items are welcome.
Glenn and Mason were students at Shepherd University when they got the idea for the Free Market in about 2010.
“I was an environmental activist and this is recycling,” Glenn continued. “And it’s about giving and not expecting a return.”
They originally set up along the stone wall in front of McMurran Hall on the SU campus. However, SU officials forced them to abandon the wall, which turned into headline news and generated a lot of publicity for the market.
The market went out of business for a while, but Glenn got 1,000 signatures on a petition, including 15 businesses in Shepherdstown, to take to the town council about getting a new spot for the Free Market.
“People wanted it,” he said.
The Free Market is now located in the first block of North King Street in front of town hall. It is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sundays for now. It will probably move to Saturdays, Glenn said.
“It started really small with a couple bags of clothes and some trinkets,” he said. “Then, one year, it exploded. It brings the community together. It’s a space to socialize for free.”
Glenn said Shepherdstown might be a place that is more receptive to the idea of a free market than some other places.
“You have to find a good spot, a good location,” he said. “It’s a win-win for everyone. It increases traffic in town and brings people to downtown Shepherdstown.”
– Staff writer John McVey can be reached at 304-263-3381, ext. 128.