Whittier Free Store: A Sharing Economy Initiative

The Whittier Free Store - like a consignment shop, but the items are free - accepts donations of unused items in good condition and offer those items to the general public.

A free store looks like a thrift store, but the community-building nature of a free store leverages access to inventory and volunteers that are untapped by conventional thrift stores.

By sharing instead of shopping, we can increase our community connections and reduce our carbon footprint.

We invite neighbors to enroll as members, for free, to gain access to free goods in a retail location, and to share their unused goods with other neighbors, instead of throwing goods away or paying for storage.

The project’s adjoining Artisan Work Lab (2017) will provide a co-work studio space, tool library, and business incubator for artisans to disassemble, upcycle, refurbish, reupholster, and repair diverted free store waste materials under the mentorship of professional artists and local retail shop owners.

Instead of relating to people through money, feeling limited by budget, or feeling too overwhelmed to forge connections at random, the sharing economy opens the door to connection and to the experience of abundance.

There is enough for everyone.

Artisan Work Lab

After its Phase 2 completion in 2017, the project will be known as Make Space: Free Store and Artisan Work Lab.

It's a new day for waste stream diversion: Imagine new fashion found in old clothes, found objects turned into sculpture, printmaking on any surface, and housewares transformed into valuable works of functional art.

We’ll divert surplus goods collected by the Free Store into the Artisan Work Lab (AWL), a small business incubator, artisan/artist tool library, and co-work studio. Paid AWL memberships will provide artisans with access to studio space, equipment, and business support which they otherwise might not be able to afford on an individual basis.

The Whole Place at First Christian Church

The classrooms housing our project sat empty since 1972 - over 40 years. As a member of The Whole Place at First Christian Church, we're reactivating them for the benefit of the greater Whittier community.

The Whole Place at First Christian Church is a community possibility engine championing wholeness and social justice.

In 2014, the board at First Christian Church voted to pass responsibility for its extensive buildings to a separate nonprofit, the Wholeness Community, which in turn established The Whole Place to support emerging nonprofits with free space for events, co-working, and meetings.

Organizational members of the Wholeness Community board include Whittier's First Day, Intercommunity Counseling Center, Whittier Area Literacy Council, CAPC Inc., twelve-step groups, alternative healing and education practitioners, and Make Space: Free Store & Artisan Work Lab, of Catalyst Network of Communities and the Whittier Time Bank, as well as Trade School LA, Master Food Preservers, and the Academy of Music for the Blind.

Catalyst Network of Communities

The Catalyst Network of Communities is a 501c3 nonprofit social impact organization helping you to connect, collaborate, and share resources. We do this by creating projects that inspire empathy and understanding between people. We are building a community of catalysts that embody the common values for building relationships, establishing partnerships, encouraging contribution, and inspiring growth. Connect and affect!