Give-away shop

give away shop

Are you looking for clothes, books, toys, pans or just something new to use? You could give it a try at a give-away shop, sometimes also simply called free shop. That's not a store in the traditional meaning, but a place to find free stuff.

All second hand stuff you can find there, clothing, books, toys, a computer or a ladle, it's all for free! There are quite some useful things at times, give-away shops aspire to be an alternative to the throw-away economy.

In the Netherlands you can find a long overview of give-away shops at

There's also a very incomplete list at


These freeshops are run by volunteers. Don't expect professional service. Be grateful they're doing this.

Don't be shy but don't take stuff you are not going to use.

Give-away shops can be a great place to find gifts for anniversaries and such. Presents are often discarded by the receiver, but if the present was already discarded before there is no real extra pollution in this case.

Starting your own give-away shop

It's easier than you think. You mainly need a space to put stuff and a somewhat regular presence.

  • It's useful to have regular hours but if it's a location where people are generally hanging out anyway, you can be open anytime someone you know and trust is around.
  • Once your store is full you have to put a limit on what you're accepting.
  • Only good books are taken. Put books that have been around for a long time with the paper trash.
  • Advertise your give-away shop in local and global places. Check the links on this page. Also feel free to let us know about it and we'll mention it on
  • Have some used plastic bags around for people who want to take more than they can carry in their hands.

If you don't have a lot of space available you could also set up a smaller scale gift box. This is great if you're involved in hospitality exchange networks such as BeWelcome.

Really really free markets

Temporary free markets are called Really really free markets. These are usually one evening or afternoon in a public space.


  • Give-away shop at Wikipedia - Give-away shops, freeshops, free stores or swap shops are stores where all goods are free. They are similar to charity shops, with mostly second-hand items—only everything is available at no cost.
  • The Digger Free Store - The Diggers invented the idea of 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. A section devoted to the Free Store will be filled with stories of serendipitous finds and fortuitous gifts. Of potlatches and give-offs.

Dumpster diving can be quite cool. It's not just for free food, but also for stuff, especially clothes. Imagine the cool parties you can throw when you have piles of discarded clothes. This is what I was thinking a while ago. So we reserved a space in our home and baptised it Boutique Trash Chic, our own little semi-private in-house free shop. Here are some blasts from the past, when I actually started a website around this idea:

Great locations for a give-away shop, nook or box:

  • at home, if you have a lot of friends come over all the time, or you're hosting travellers
  • at the entrance of your building, if you live with many other people. Many buildings in Berlin are very suitable for this.
  • at bars
  • hostels
  • schools

Dumpster Diving Tips

tips for dumpster diving

There's enough food for everyone, but a lot of food is chucked. Stores, consumers and producers simply dump a lot of good food! You can find this food by checking the bins you find outside of stores. Dumpster diving can also be a lot of fun!