Really really free markets are spaces where people give away goods, services, discussion, skills, talents and other community ressources. It’s a movement of resistence towards corporatization, greed, commericialism and waste which redistributes resources.
This guide will cover:
How a really really free market works
Where to host it
How to get people to come
How it works
Organizers work within a non-hierarchical framework. Any contribution is appreciated. For a really really free market (RRFM) to be a success, participants and organizers have to bring items to give away. Contributions can be anything: clothes, housewares, food or anything else someone no longer has a use for. As an organizer, be enthusiastic and bring a lot to give away at the market. Encourage others to bring what they can as well. Welcome a variety of contributions: entertainers can be clowns, do magic shows or dance, service workers can cut hair or teach workshops. Also try to think of any accommodations participants might need. Offering child care, an accessible space and light snacks can make a big difference.
Everyone’s contributions are anonymous. The items are not donations, as there is no end profit. In most RRFMs there isn’t any bartering, trading or form of payment.
In some RRFMs, contributions are encouraged through a stamp system. If you bring anything to to the market, no matter the quantity or value, you receive a stamp that entitles you take whatever you want. This is measure makes sure that community members are active in giving to the market, as well as taking from it, but it’s not necessary. The principle is that the items are there for free to be taken by anyone.
Where to host
The best spaces for RRFMs are places that people feel equal ownership over. These can be public parks, recreation centres or other areas people are used to gathering in your community. A widely known location also increases the chances that people will come. Some community centres are easily booked for free, while others charge. It doesn’t make any sense to have a free event in a space that has to be paid for. If you need to raise money, do so independently and keep the market free for everyone.
Some groups have also taken to having RRFMs on politically significant places. Markets have been hosted in parking lots and street corners to reclaim public space.
Put up posters in apartment complexes, student dorms and community centres. Fliers and mass emails are only the beginning. See if your community/campus radio station will run a public service announcement about the market. Solicit coverage from the local media. Contact and collaborate with other campaigns working for social justice. Approach social organizations like, homeless shelters, and let them know about the resources available during the market. Distribute signs to sympathetic residents who can put them up in their windows or on their lawns. Make your advertisements bilingual and in a clear large font.
Once the market is over, decide what to do with the leftover items. Thriftstores always appreciate donations, but if they can’t take the excess, arrange to have them stored in someone’s garage until the next market.
- Have the market once a month and stick to that date. People will get more used to it and you won’t have to advertise as much.
- Designate a clearly marked area for personal belongings that are not free. This will help avoid any confusion.
- Keep the event fun, friendly and interactive to show how desirable alternative community driven economies can be.