When I was in my late teens living in Maine I was very poor. My first husband and I were really struggling. There was this place not far from us that I remember well. It was called “The Bargain Barn”.
It may sound like the name of some dollar store chain, but it was actually a real barn. It was something run by the town to help those in need. There were no Salvation Army or Goodwill stores anywhere near town, so this was our local version. People would donate anything they had that was still usable but they didn’t want. Clothes, books, cassettes (it was the late 90s) and even furniture. It wasn’t the most organized place, but it was somewhere for people to donate their unwanted but viable items.
Anyone in town was allowed to go there and take things. For a long time it was great. People would come, look around, take what they needed and leave. We got a lot of furniture for our first place there, and even some clothes. No one took more than they needed, and people always donated more. Some of us would even take the time to fold clothes and organize things to make it nicer for the next person who came along.
Somewhere along the line people got the idea to come to the Barn with a pickup truck, load in all they could and sell it at yard sales. The town got people to volunteer to watch the place for a while, but eventually people started breaking in at night. After a while, they had to close the barn because too many people were abusing it for personal profit.
I really missed that place, and I still do. It was such a wonderful idea. It made me really sad that people got greedy and started taking away from others who needed what was there. We found out that the people stealing weren’t even the poor ones, so that made it even worse. I really wish that places like that could still exist.
I’m a big believer in sharing, giving freely and the barter system. It’s sad that people will abuse such things. I keep hoping that society will wise up and people will start being more respectful and compassionate so that places like the Bargain Barn can exist again. It helped so many people for so long, it was a shame that it had to be closed. Maybe someday people will learn to do the right thing and free item locations and barters can become popular again.