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Money no good at Preston's Really Really Free Market

by July 29, 2017 General

Each month, Hailie Sommerhalder travels more than 30 kilometres from Nillumbik shire, in Melbourne’s outer north-east, to Preston to give away some of her clothes, books and costume jewellery to complete strangers. 

So far, the 31-year-old has handed over about $1000 worth of goods. 

She is one of the up-to-20 stall-holders taking part in the Really Really Free Market in Preston on Sunday. Billed as a “non-commercial community event”, it focuses on a “temporary gift economy” which promotes recycling while eschewing capitalism. 

“I really liked the idea of it being free,” Ms Sommerhalder says. 

“It is a refreshing sanctuary from money … because money is everywhere, and very few things in life are free. So it’s a nice change to see all this honest, open, giving going on without any strings attached.”

Held every last Sunday of the month in Melbourne, the concept is said to have originated in New Zealand, with markets now being held in Greece, Singapore and Canada. 

Suse Scholem, who is one of the 10 organisers behind the Preston event, says punters can expect to find anything from a massage to a class on ‘Food waste and dumpster diving’.

She says, advertised on Facebook, posters and through word-of-mouth, the market has continued to grow, with 500 attending the maiden event in April. About 1000 people had expressed interest in Sunday’s event at the time of writing this article. 

“We wanted to create a community event that was exploring how community could come together outside a regular money system, and what sort of joyfulness can happen in that environment,” Ms Scholem says.

“It is a community-run and a community-led event … so anyone can come and participate and anyone can come and help organise it as well.

“We do call-outs for people to come and bring their goods and services to contribute. So anything that they are no longer wanting, or wanting to gift out to anyone in the community.”

Neither barter nor advertising is allowed. 

“Money doesn’t work it [here],” she says. “We welcome and encourage people to come along and take. There is no requirement to bring anything or contribute anything.

“We really love it if people come and be a part of a pop-up community.”

Ms Sommerhalder says the event is also about “helping one another” and a “unique chance to meet a very eclectic group of people”.

“It seems like a market involving free tangible objects, but ends up being uniquely intangible, something that cannot be measured in dollars and cents,” she says.

“You might go there for the free stuff; perhaps someone is giving away a book that they have already read and loved, then you both connect over that book, and it gets people talking.

“It is more about galvanising community.”

Ms Sommerhalder says she also likes knowing where her belongings end up. “I just like the idea of gifting it to somebody and meeting the person, actually having that interaction,” she says. 

“People are so excited about something you don’t want any more and that’s kind of nice. Like giving it a new life, this object that you don’t want.”

Really Really Free Market Preston will be held on Sunday, July 30, from 10am to 2pm at Railway Reserve Bike Path, St Georges Road, Preston. For information or to contact, visit Facebook page.