A new “store” held its grand opening Tuesday at the University of Wisconsin-Superior, but no money will change hands.
The Free Store was created by UW-Superior student Megan Holz and the UWS Sustainability Club. The store features gently used items available to anyone, either on campus or in the broader Twin Ports.
The store, open each weekday afternoon in Old Main, has apparel, kitchenware, school supplies and other items. Donations are accepted during operational hours.
Holz, a junior double-majoring in environmental science and biology, set up the Free Store after a similar, one-day effort during Earth Week last spring.
“I just thought that campus needed a resource to work toward sustainability,” she said. “We had a great response for (the one-day Free Store), and so we kept all the donations that were left over and brought them here, and we made a permanent Free Store.”
The store is just one of the Sustainability Club’s efforts on campus, Holz said. Other initiatives include a program that allows students to receive free bamboo silverware if they bring their own cups to campus eateries. Another program will provide reusable containers for students who dine on campus.
Two hours after the Free Store opened its doors Tuesday, about 50 people had visited, Holz said. About half of them took something home, she said, while others simply wanted to check out the space.
UW-Superior Facilities Management is providing assistance and space for the store, and Holz said campus administration was receptive to the idea.
“They're very supportive of our sustainable mission (that we’re) trying to push on campus,” she said. “They thought it was a great idea. A lot of other schools have a Free Store, so they were happy to kind of jump on the bandwagon.”
So, what kinds of items should you bring to the Free Store?
“I think school supplies will be something that students would really appreciate having,” Holz said. “They always like the kitchenware; (when) they walk in, they go directly to the kitchen stuff.”
Holz said the store also has clothing available for students who are going on interviews and need to dress for meetings.
There were a number of food items on the shelves Tuesday, but Holz said those items would be better suited for the Yellowjacket Food Pantry on campus. Bulky items such as televisions and larger pieces of furniture are best donated elsewhere, too, she said.
“We're trying to think of a way to have maybe like a bulletin board for people to put up their bigger items and connect people that way, but we don’t have space to store stuff like that,” Holz said.
The Free Store is in Room 131 of Old Main, 1710 Weeks Ave., on the UW-Superior campus. Open hours are from 2-5 p.m. Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays; noon to 5 p.m. Tuesdays; and 3-5 p.m. Thursdays.