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Bed-Stuy's Brooklyn Free Store wasn't really a store, but it was in Brooklyn and everything in it was free. The shop was basically a tent in a vacant lot filled with unwanted—but still useful—goods like clothes and books. People could take what they wanted and leave what they wanted; when the Awl stopped by in September, they found a PlayStation II.
The combination of fresh-faced arty kids and free stuff attracted multiple media outlets, but it might have also attracted attention of a less positive sort. Twice in February, the tent caught fire. Then, in March, a third fire burned down the entire tent and started in on the house next door, collapsing its south side.
The chief spokesman for the FDNY told the Times in an email, “I’m told that these were intentionally set fires." Whatever the case, the Department of Buildings determined that the house had too much structural damage, so they knocked it down, leaving the residents—among them members of the loose-knit anarchist collective network that ran the Free Store—out in the cold.
This isn't the first time the Brooklyn Free Store has shut down: An older version operated in Williamsburg from 1999 to 2005. According to the Times, organizers are already talking about re-opening in another lot in the area.
· Money Is No Object! The Brooklyn Free Store [The Awl]
· After Suspicious Fire in Free Store, Some Lose a Home [NYT]
· Brooklyn Free Store [Official Site]