Every Tuesday afternoon from 4:30 to 6:30 pm Worsham Hall fills with high healed tennis shoes, silver slippers a la L. Frank Baum’s Wonderful Wizard of Oz, sequined Arkansas Razorbacks t-shirts, half-used Listerine bottles, stray Tupperware, assorted shower caddies, retired textbooks, surprisingly shaped lamps and a lot of freshmen.
The Free Store is one of Hendrix’s unknown gems. Run by the Environmental Concerns Committee (ECC)—more specifically, Emma Gaither—it’s said to have graced campus for generations. Gaither explained to me that as the Vice Chair of Programs she runs this, the football recycling program, and the dish program, however, this is the longest standing of the programs and the one longtime faculty have most discussed with her.
“It’s been a part of the Hendrix community for at least twenty years,” Gaither said.
She’s been volunteering since joining the ECC as a freshman and just enjoys the vibe, occasionally snagging an item. A couple of freshmen were very excited about the store’s denim offerings.
“Free Store is great because one, we’re all broke college students and two, you get to make something that’s someone else’s your own in creative ways,” said Kirstyn Baker.
The universality of college students being broke was a bit of a running theme. Freshman Nate Felan may have been most honest of Free Store attendees.
“I find things I wouldn’t normally pay for and take them,” Felan said.
A side of the Free Store revealed to me mostly by ECC members was all the truly bizarre things that have been donated. Beyond the non-regulation extension cords, the incomplete sets of tea cups, the large plastic spoons, and the collective works of Karl Popper, there is a much weirder underbelly. ECC members eagerly reported finding bacon alarm clocks, half a liter bottle painted like a giraffe, even a phallic cake tin—which was reportedly snagged really quickly.
However, despite these items sounding a little superfluous there really is a lot to go around, especially for freshman. There are tons of those dinky little calculators the chemistry department requires you use on tests, there are piles of left over Hendrix t-shirts, including Veasey tanks and Miss Hendrix crews. Also, a ridiculous amount of office supplies for the depths of winter when Walmart stops stocking school stuff.
The Free Store really is a good resource for Hendrix students, even if one’s problem is too many things.
“Probably 70% of my wardrobes filters through the free store,” ECC volunteer Annie Meek said.