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The Hell’s Kitchen Free Store has opened up on W45th Street just west of 9th Avenue, taking over part of the outside of what used to be the Justin Timberlake-backed Southern Hospitality.
The Free Store was started on this week by Bailey Sperling and Chana Widawski — although Bailey stressed: “really, it’s such a community effort that we don’t want to take the credit.”
Bailey and Chana met in the Buy Nothing Midtown West Facebook group, and started the Free Store as a way to extend the giving and waste diversion spirit. Before the pandemic, Chana had been organizing neighborhood swap events and food scrap collection, and is working to get our trash off sidewalk spaces through Hell’s Kitchen Commons and the 45th Street Block Association. Meanwhile, Bailey is in her final semester at FIT, studying fashion design and sustainability, and has been focusing on textile waste reduction.
“Our first day went amazingly, there’s already so much turnover with all of the things people are taking and leaving,” Bailey told us. “We’ve been having great conversations with our neighbors and have enjoyed the community building and love to see the waste reduction.”
They describe the Hell’s Kitchen Free Store as “a mutual aid project that focuses on landfill diversion and fulfilling needs in our community. It is a shared space for people to leave what they can and take what they need.”
It is a project run by neighbors for neighbors, and they stress “we’re counting on everyone who passes by to contribute to keeping it neat and tidy.”
Bailey encouraged Hell’s Kitchen locals to join in this project. “Bring a few small things to donate, or find something to take home,” she said. Follow the project on Instagram @hkfreestore or find out more at linktr.ee/hkfreestore.