The grand opening of The Los Angeles Free Market, a completely free store, took place yesterday at the Robert M. Wilkinson Multipurpose Senior Citizen Center, less than one mile from CSUN.
The Los Angeles Free Market is a community and donation based environmental group ran exclusively by volunteers. Participants are advocates of a self sustaining community where people can exchange objects, ideas and skills.
Tables lined with donated books, clothing and shoes filled several rooms at the event. All of these items were free of charge.
“I am excited to spend my summer out here,” said Laura Smith, who established the free market after being granted a fellowship from her school, Vassar College in New York. “I want to become more involved in the Northridge community.”
Smith is a Sherman Oaks native and co-president of a student led environmental organization in Poughkeepsie, N.Y. Smith decided to bring her idea home to Northridge.
Several members of the Northridge community came together yesterday to shop and meet new people. The night’s entertainment included a puppet show starring hand crafted puppets presented by a volunteer. Upcoming Free Market entertainment includes knitting lessons, and live music.
“The entire idea is to help support and promote reuse,” said volunteer and close friend of Smiths, Nadine Souto. “We’re hoping to create a parallel economy that brings people together, not just based on money, but on community.”
Souto is a also member of the environmental organization at Vassar College. Through these community gatherings she is hoping to “close the loop” when it comes to consumption of material goods.
“I have hope that reusing can become a part of our lifestyles,” said Souto. “This is a good medium for people to meet and trade skills and services.”
The Los Angeles Free Market is attracting a variety of age groups. With such close proximity to CSUN, several high schools and residential areas, a diverse mix of attendees can be expected.
“It’s dependent on how the community responds,” said Smith when asked how long she plans to continue working on the Free Market in Northridge. “We are supporting a free exchange not only objects, but ideas.”
Free Market events are scheduled to take place every Sunday, Monday and Thursday evening from 5:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.