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Free Market really, really reopens in Shepherdstown

September 03, 2013|By RICHARD F. BELISLE | richardb@herald-mail.com
  • Barbara Mann of Shepherdstown, W.Va., sifts through clothes Sunday morning at the reopening of Shepherdstown's Really, Really Free Market after Shepherd University officials stopped it from operating on the wall in front of McMurran Hall. The market, with the blessings of the Shepherdstown Town Council, now operates on North King Street across from the Town Hall. Mann said she was looking for clothes for her brother"s family. "They have five children and I thought I"d see what I could find to help them out. This is a great idea. I wish I could being some of my stuff here."
Photo by Richard F. Belisle

SHEPHERDSTOWN, W.Va. — Shepherdstown’s Really, Really Free Market reopened Sunday to wide acclaim from many of its former patrons.

However, it was not on the wall in front of McMurran Hall, where it ran for four years, but just around the corner on North King Street, sandwiched between Reynolds Hall and Town Hall.

This time around, the market is out of the reaches of Shepherd University. In April, the three-member McMurran Hall board of trustees kicked it off the wall.

The board members are appointed by the university to manage McMurran Hall “in the public interest.”

The trustees and university officials ruled in April that “The use of the grounds of historic McMurran Hall by the Really, Really Free Market is not in keeping with its institutional polices for use of the facility.”

At that time, it had just opened for its fifth season, said Robbie Glenn, 24, a local resident and Shepherd senior, who organized the market with a handful of volunteers in 2007.

“The town council gave us permission to operate between Old Queen Alley and German Street,” Glenn said Sunday morning as he was helping to set up the tables for the free public exchange of unwanted household and other goods.

By 11 a.m., the tables were getting filled with appliances, books, CDs and DVDs, cassette tapes, all matter of kitchen ware, clothes for all ages, toys, tools and just about anything found in any yard sale — except that everything was free.

One family of parents and two children was poring through items on a table and wondered why there were no price tags. When told there were none, the little girl exclaimed: “Mommy, it doesn’t cost anything. Everything is free.”

As fast as people were picking things up, cars were pulling in, trunks and back seats loaded with unwanted stuff.

Glenn said at the close of the day, anything left would be taken to Goodwill. The town is providing a large trash bin for the really unwanted stuff.

“We’re trying to be more organized than we were on the wall, where stuff was put anywhere,” Glenn said.

Volunteers were sorting items as they came in and putting them on tables with similar items.

“We’re organizing things into rough categories instead of the anarchy we had on the wall. We’re trying to get stuff that’s more useful, but we’re still open to anything that isn’t trash,” he said.

This time around the market will have regular hours from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. At the end of the day everything will be cleaned up, and the street put back into premarket condition.

The market will run on Sundays rather than Saturday and Sunday as it did on the wall, but only once a month.

The next two markets are scheduled for the last Sundays in September and October, Glenn said.

“They can’t kick them out of here,” said Heidi Glenn, Robbie Glenn’s mother.

“I’m so proud of him,” she said of her son. “He went and did the right thing.”

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