Through the back hallway of an expansive white studio space on 855 East Hastings street lies the East Van Free Store. Yes, free store. It’s a small corner, surrounded by paint pots, sketches of pretty girls, dirty sinks, and what seems like millions of mops. This artsy janitor’s closet is home to the store where stealing is encouraged, or rather where stealing doesn’t exist.
Originally started as a yearly collection-giveaway type deal by Julia Higgs, the East Van Free store is now open every Tuesday from 5-10 PM. Once you get over how absolutely odd it feels to browse the shelves of the space and stuff items into your bag, you begin to see the hidden wonders living behind old pairs of sneakers and booklets of sheet music. After rifling around for a little bit you can find gems, such as a bright red triple XL plaid shirt for all your lumberjacking needs, a bright white ‘New York: The Big Apple’ shirt for when you feel like putting on a terrible accent, or an MGMT 7”. There are goods aplenty, and all of them for no money!
The free store is also a great place to give away that dusty old crop top your Mom’s weird friend gave you on your birthday, or the roller skates you bought but never learned to use. It’s a beautiful give and take relationship. Hey! Did we mention it’s FREE?
The place smells a little musty, but is made homey by the strings of fairy lights hanging from the ceiling, and all in all is highly recommended for back to school shopping when you’re deep in student debt, or as a haven for the crazily crafty. If you’re in need of a shawl to rival your grandmother’s, a patterned vase, an unearned boy scout badge, or a magazine boasting answers to all the secrets of your cat, then you should boot your toot over to the East Van Free Store. After all, it’s free.