Freedom Fighters

überculture Hosts Annual Really Really Free Market

  • Really Really Free Market stands in contrast to a barter or market economy. Graphic Christopher Olson

In an age of ridiculous commodities like bottled water, free merchandise appear to be a thing of the past.

In an age of ridiculous commodities like bottled water, free merchandise appear to be a thing of the past.

However, the growing presence of online sharing has proved that a free market can still be a powerful force.

Like it or not, we all have a soft spot for sharing.

The concept of something being really free might be a tangible utopia—at least for two days this week when Concordia’s überculture hosts its Really Really Free Market.

The concept of the Really Really Free Market is based on the idea of exchanging belongings within a community. It stands in contrast to a barter economy or a market economy.

Coming home with an armload of things with no buyer’s remorse isn’t just a possibility with this event. In fact, it’s the reason for its existence.

As part of the events during Buy Nothing Week, leading up to Buy Nothing Day on Nov. 26, überculture is holding their free market for two days. Students can drop off stuff they no longer want and are free to scan the tables for anything they might like. You don’t have to bring anything to take something, and vice versa.

“It’s a trading system, with no rules and no money,” said Gonzalo Nieto, überculture member and event co-ordinator.

The market was first held last Fall and has grown each time it has been held, prompting it to become a monthly happening this year. Its success, as Nieto explained, is in the hands of those who show up to the event.

“One of the really nice things is in its simplicity of being so dependent on students themselves,” said Nieto. “It’s not that we’re really organizing an event; we’re just organizing an outlet for students to do this.”

The concept of just taking stuff for free may be a bit hard to wrap one’s head around. Where does value fit in an environment devoid of price tags?

“The value of an object is a very subjective thing,” said Nieto. “If I have 30 pairs of jeans, I don’t need a new pair, so it is worth nothing to me. But what if my house has burned down and I don’t have clothes? Suddenly that pair of jeans is worth a lot more.”

Going with the mantra of “it’s worth what it’s worth to you,” anything from jewelry to TVs may be found. But more than free stuff, the market is about “being shown how much is around your community,” said Nieto.

After the last folks are gone and the tables are folded, leftover items are kept in the überculture office or donated to local charities.

So who’s welcome to drop by?

“Absolutely anyone that wants to come and enjoy some free things and give up their own and have some free coffee,” Nieto said.

Although free java is a tried-and-true method of luring in university students, rest assured that will be there to support the cause.

“Being Buy Nothing Week, it just so happens that one of the things people will buy on a daily basis, even if they don’t buy many other things, is coffee,” said Nieto. “So serving that free is one of the ways to sidestep that issue.”

To keep things green, everyone is asked to bring their own mugs.

So if you find yourself facing a couple of tables bearing everything that someone else doesn’t want but you just might, just go for it because, as Nieto said, “nothing is free, but everything must go.”

The Really Really Free Market will take place on the 7th floor of the Hall building (1455 de Maissoneuve Blvd.) Nov. 23 and Nov. 24 from 10:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.

This article originally appeared in The Link Volume 31, Issue 15, published November 23, 2010.

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