Really Really Free Market clears hurdlesÂ
Since the beginning of the Really Really Free Market in Carrboro in 2004, town officials have presented many hurdles to get over in order to have an event where people give things away. First we were told the event would hurt local businesses, and we had to convince town staff that it was more likely to help by bringing people into town. Then we were told it would hurt the PTA thrift store, and I had to get a letter of support from the director of the PTA. We were told we couldnâ€™t have the event more than twice a year, and unless we wanted to pay more than $100 the event could only last four hours. Then we were told we couldnâ€™t have a donation box at the event to collect money to cover the $100 fee. Then we had an issue with the banners, and then there was the blowup over the re-purposed yard signs.
There were threats from the town attorney, visits from town staff with cameras â€” and then from police with video cameras â€” and attempts to move the event to Sundays by town staff and aldermen. We have been prohibited from using the power (which is unfortunate because some people like to bring sewing machines to hem and repair clothing, power tools for woodworking projects, crock pots for stews, etc.). We have been prohibited from using the bathroom (but the owner at Citgo has kindly welcomed RRFM participants to use his). And of course, most recently, we have been prohibited from sharing food. (Of course, if we had enough money, we could pay to lift these restrictions.) Throughout all of these complications, there have been meetings with town staff, presentations at aldermen meetings and a public hearing … all in order to have an event where people give things away.
While some elements within town government have been twisting and turning to make things difficult, other elements within town government have been bending over backwards to make things easier. They have announced an anonymous donor to cover the fees, facilitated a new policy for using the Town Commons without fees and are now helping to coordinate an agreement with SURGE to get around the food issue. I would like to thank Helen of the Recreation and Parks department, Alderman Dan Coleman and Mayor Mark Chilton for being the most active supporters of the event throughout its history in Carrboro.