|By MELVIN HANKS
Usually when someone walks into a store, sees something he likes and walks
out of store without paying for it, the manager would have the customer
arrested for shoplifting, and the person would face an unpleasant
court session before an unhappy judge.
That is, it's that way in most
stores, but not the
newest place of business in Key West.
You can walk in, get what you
want and walk out
without paying a dime.
The new business is called a
"free store" and is unique to the Key West area.
Set up by young
Kumpf * at an old Conch house at 114
Olivia St., the store is opened 24 hours
a day, and there are no
attendents. The place is empty except for
non-perishable food, bedding, kitchen utencils, radios, books and
opened the store Sunday", Kumpf said, "and already people have come in and
helped themselves to several things."
The purpose of the store,
according to Kumpf, is to
help the community.
"There is no profit involved and
the merchandise is donated by people who are tired of certain things they
own. They bring them in here for other people to enjoy them, and they
probably take something that they need."
Kumpf said that many of the
people at Fogarty House helped him set up the shop on Olivia Street and
donated several items now "on sale".
If anyone stands to lose money
on this venture it is Kumpf, who is paying $20 rent on the house per
month. He said he might put up a donation box in the house for anyone wishing
added hastily that the landlord knows all about the store and approves of
this idea to improve the community.
There have been several
children's items in the store, but these were quickly snapped up by the
youth of the neighborhood. Other such items are expected to be donated
Although the idea
of a "free store" is unique to this area, other cities in the United
States have been the base for sprouting stores of free exchange. The most
popular stores have been in New York, Philadelphia and Washington D.C.
There is one store on
New York's lower East Side that is a "crash pad' similar to a "free
store". However, the difference is that the young people are welcome to
stay for a couple of days at the "crash pad" when they can't find any
other place to stay.
Kumpf emphasizes that 114 Olivia St. is not meant to be a place where
people can spend the night, but where goods are exchanged.
It has been suggested that many
people would feel unconfortable just walking into a store and taking out
whatever they want.
the operator of Key West's "free store" thinks that a service like this is
needed in the community, and that people will come to the store and feel
"natural" about taking things out without paying for them.
"We're not competing with any
other business in Key West, so we should be pretty well received," Kumpf
to contribute to the rent and the continuation
of the "free store".
*alias - 'Matchbox' Ron
later alias - Ron 'Noodleman' Carter