Digger Virtual Free Store

In line with the digger motto, Create The Condition You Describe, here is a virtual free store. And now, it's a searchable database, no longer a text file that made searching very cumbersome.

The Diggers invented the Free Store and it became a counterculture institution. Anywhere communes thrived there was the inevitable Free Box, a smaller, less labor intensive version of the Free Store. Read through the submissions to this Virtual Free Store, and you may get an idea of the anarchic quality of the Free Frame of Reference or Trip Without A Ticket (two of the original free stores.)

Some of the best Digger stories revolve around the goings-on at the Free Store. For example, one of my favorites:

One day two reporters (one from Life Magazine and the other from Time) showed up about the same time at the Free Store. Each reporter independently asked to interview the Digger leader in charge. The Diggers took aside each reporter and confided that the person they wanted was there, but that he would be difficult to interview and would not acknowledge that he was a Digger leader. They then introduced both reporters who proceeded to interview each other thinking they were the elusive Digger leader for their big scoop.

The Free Store was where "reality came to change its wardrobe". Soldiers who had gone A.W.O.L would head to the Free Store, enter in full military uniform and leave looking like any other hippie on the street (often carrying new ID as well.) Hippies believed in the Free Store, and it worked. People whose needs were circumspect could find all manner of accoutrements that were surplus energy to another sister or brother. The phrase "What goes around comes around," if not coined to explain why free stores work, certainly became a good metaphysical maxim for the way the universe seemed to operate in the realm of Free.

There has been but little written about the Free Store, but Serendipity at my side, I discovered a wonderful piece originally published in the New Yorker in 1967 that describes a journey into the Lower East Side of Manhattan and a thriving Free Store there. Surprise of all, the main person mentioned is Motorcycle Richie. Having made his way from the Free Frame of Reference, he served as a Johnny Appleseed of the Digger movement in his biker jaunts 'cross country.

Here's a link to the article: Free Store from The New Yorker's Talk of the Town, Oct. 14, 1967.

The Frederick Street Free Store
The Frederick Street Free Store
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Typical scene in the Free Store.
Typical scene in the Free Store, especially after a busy day of "shopping"
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