New free store open for business

Posted: Friday, November 07, 2008

Ami McLelland, an avid PBS viewer, recently saw a program about the hippie generation living in New York City. Due to their transient lifestyles, the hippies created free stores where those leaving the city could drop off what they didn't need and those who just moved to the city could take what they needed.

Being a member of BIRCH Americorps and having an excess of unneeded items in her own house, McLelland combined the two aspects of her life and came up with an idea -- bring a free store to the Kenai Peninsula.

The free store allows McLelland a chance to earn hours for Americorps, get rid of the clutter in her home and benefit the community. It is a win-win-win situation.

"It's just great," she said. "It's absolutely great."

McLelland, who operates the store alone, hosted the first weekend of the free store Oct. 4-5 at the community club in Sterling. She said the community response was good with about 10 people making donations and 20 to 25 people looking for items.

McLelland said the store will be open every other Saturday each month, beginning with the first Saturday of the month, at the community club from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m. The next free store will be held on Nov. 15.

McLelland said articles of clothing have been the major items at the free store though other items, such as fishing poles, pots and pans and even an electric weed whacker, have been donated.

"I'm open to anything," McLelland said. "Bring it in and we'll find a home for it."

Vehicles can also be donated, she said, but they should be in decent working condition.

Patrons of the free store do not have to donate items in order to take other items home, McLelland said.

For more information, McLelland can be reached at 262-8790.

Mike Nesper can be reached at

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