Trading 'the stuff of life' | June 22, 2012 | Palo Alto Weekly | Palo Alto Online |

Palo Alto Weekly

News - June 22, 2012

Trading 'the stuff of life'

Barron Park FreeSale is hub for exchanging ideas and belongings

by Helen Carefoot

On a small Barron Park street lined with patches of wildflowers and dandelions, rows of tables were piled high with items ranging from shawls as delicate as spider webs to stacks of vintage records and weathered books.

Neighbors at the Tippewango Court home of Romola Georgia pored over the myriad items Satuday, June 16, donating their own and taking another in return. But it wasn't a garage sale; it was a "FreeSale."

A FreeSale is a pseudo-yard sale in which participants exchange gently used items with their friends for free. Georgia said she hopes to use the event to promote sharing and re-purposing the "stuff of life."

The tables in front of Georgia's white picket fence created an appealing aisle of goods. Boxes of blooming sunflowers and fennel plants lured plant enthusiasts to the gardening table; a heap of X-Men trading cards from someone's childhood was pile upon another. An elaborate six-CD changer stood out among the electronic offerings.

Many items displayed carried personal significance to their previous owners and elicited stories and nostalgia.

"I remember wearing these everyday," Georgia exclaimed as she held a pair of cropped, woolen riding pants from her youth. "It's funny to think that they would make a wonderful costume now."

Describing another favorite belonging — a turquoise brocade evening jacket — she said: "I remember wearing this jacket to several wonderful holiday events, and I just had a blast."

FreeSale shopper Debbie Mytels, who helped organize the event, said she sees the exchange as more than an opportunity to trade belongings. She said she hopes "people see it as an opportunity to try anything and expand (their) horizons."

For the last three years Georgia has also been organizing ladies' clothing exchanges for Transitions Palo Alto, a nonprofit organization founded to help people explore ways to think about their impact on the planet and decreasing their dependence on fossil fuels. She said she hopes the FreeSale will become a tradition, and she plans to expand the concept to other neighborhoods in the future.

The event "is a great opportunity to give away things that are still useful that you don't need. It keeps stuff out of the landfill, prevents you from having to go shopping and makes you think about the consequences of everything we purchase in terms of the environment," she said, citing the unfair labor practices and costs the environment of producing goods.

"It enables you to think broadly about your activities," she said.

Editorial Intern Helen Carefoot can be reached at


Like this comment
Posted by Annette Puskarich
a resident of Barron Park
on Jun 27, 2012 at 5:41 pm

Great idea and a nice way to build community. I participated and there was much more than just "stuff" that was exchanged that day. There were wonderful personal exchanges also.

There are more exchanges, shares and swaps planned this summer. You can get on the mailing list by sending a request to transitionpaloalto at gmail dotcom

Transition Palo Alto is a network of individuals and groups committed to 1) building community 2) encouraging local resilience to cope with peak oil and 3) reducing carbon emissions to cope with climate change.
For more information, go to Web Link

Like this comment
Posted by Lana
a resident of Barron Park
on Jun 28, 2012 at 11:46 am

This was covered very nicely. I participated and I felt that the spirit of giving and friendship was alive and well.

Don't miss out on the discussion!
Sign up to be notified of new comments on this topic.


Post a comment

Posting an item on Town Square is simple and requires no registration. Just complete this form and hit "submit" and your topic will appear online. Please be respectful and truthful in your postings so Town Square will continue to be a thoughtful gathering place for sharing community information and opinion. All postings are subject to our TERMS OF USE, and may be deleted if deemed inappropriate by our staff.

We prefer that you use your real name, but you may use any "member" name you wish.

Name: *

Select your neighborhood or school community: * Not sure?

Comment: *

Verification code: *
Enter the verification code exactly as shown, using capital and lowercase letters, in the multi-colored box.

*Required Fields


Registration now open

Sign up for the 33rd annual Palo Alto Weekly Moonlight Run and Walk. This family-friendly event which benefits local nonprofits serving kids and families will take place on Friday, Oct. 6 at the Palo Alto Baylands.

Register Here