The Free Store in Nassau Street, Manhattan, created by artists Athena Robles and Anna Stein has been creating a stir. It was inspired by a liberal hippie initiative from 1967, the Diggers Free Store which operated under the slogan â€œDonâ€™t Waste Give To The Diggersâ€. This time Robles and Stein have created their own Free Store just a few from Wall Street in New Yorkâ€™s financial district.
The idea is simple. Everything in the store is free. Youâ€™re encouraged to donate something too, of course. In return for your purchase youâ€™re issued with a receipt that declares no money has changed hands.
â€œAlternative and generous systems such as bartering have long been used in times of financial hardship,â€ say Robles and Stein. â€œArtists, in particular, are familiar with having to be creative to make ends meet and have functioned on generous systems, especially artist-to-artist. Free Store aims to broaden this circle of trust and exchange by including the general public.â€
From an economic perspective, it appears a facile response to crisis.Â Are the artists seriously saying that we should abandon materialist ideas of value? As art though, itâ€™s a playful, optimistic gesture, questioning what we place our trust and value in, especially given the context. With all the vacant store-frontage in our High Streets, even with Wellworths, thereâ€™s so much potential to play/do something productive in the dead space in middle of our cities.
Any nominations for best used empty shop?