Monday, September 9, 2019

Treasure Hunting

Treasure Hunting 

Now that summer has come to a bitter end, the cold nights marked clearly with crisp autumn air and school season starting with a hectic rush, the Really Really Free Market continues to do good.

The Really Really Free Market in September provides items to those who are looking for some treasures.

I brought my little dog Leo with me, and discussed the items some of the market goers found as they were looking about the space.

My observation brought me to a young boy who found a slinky; the joy on his face upon discovering this relic of a toy, brought a smile to my face. What joy in the world of kinaesthetic discovery!

Another joyous occasion as a father and his daughters filled their bags. The girls told me about the numerous stuffies they found.

I asked about their favourite find, which instinctually I knew was the giant monkey stuffed animal, so large its face could be seen through the white plastic bag. When she pointed at the bag and said this one I asked if it was in fact the giant monkey, they both nodded, subtly saying it was a joint favouritism.

Next, a young man walking around for some time, I stopped him to ask what he found and he said

I found my fiancee’s favourite book* and pulled out a copy of *love you forever* which is a classic and absolutely a keepsake.

My whole being was filled with joy for this young couple, knowing that someone who didn’t need that book in their life anymore had donated it and they had miraculously found it.

They told me that wasn’t the only item they found, along with some dental items, still in the package, a Costco size bottle of cetaphil face wash, and a very nice shirt for him, they were happy with their market finds.

The market is good for everyone, whether you're donating items you haven't used in too long, or you're hunting for a nice shirt while on a tight budget, there is something for everyone.

My favourite part about the market is seeing the look on market goer's faces when they pull out the items they found. The best feeling is when the items is something I donated.

I always find something for myself as well. This time I found a sealed can of whipped frosting! You'd probably be surprised, but I really enjoyed this sweet treat on some brownies later that night.

Join us for the next Free Market on October 5th, 2019.

I hope to see you there an interview you for my next post!



If you enjoyed this piece you'll love checking out my personal blog and instagram page for more inspirational writing.


Sunday, July 7, 2019

Summer At the Really Really Free Market!

This is my first year attending the Really Really Free Market as a volunteer, and so it's the first summer Market I've ever been to!

I love the summer Market! There is A LOT more space, everyone is browsing and crowded tables are less so than the winter Markets.

The next Summer Market takes place on Saturday August 3rd, 2019

The first thing you'll see when entering the Market is the Volunteer Table and the information signs. The friendly volunteers are happy to help with any questions about the Market, and will surely make your experience wonderful!

The next sign is a simplified version of the rules:

One Ikea size bag, or one hour spent at the market. It's important to respect the one hour rule, as loitering for better items is not fair to other market-goers. Be sure to follow the rules!

This is the jewelry table, where you will find a volunteer to greet you. The jewelry table is a special place, with beautiful items. These items work with a token system, where you ask a volunteer for two tokens, and exchange the tokens for any piece from the table. There is usually one jewelry item per person. 

One young market go-er found this beautiful necklace! You truly never know what you will find!

Take a look at some of the other items!

A bike seat. some reflectors, and a camera battery charger!

Plenty of books for the avid reader! 

Some home items for those looking for pieces on a free budget! Best deal you could ask for!

VHS's and DVD's!

One Market goer found this really cool hat! She loved it after trying it on!

This really RAD sweater found by another market goer stars Santa and a Unicorn! It even has fur all around the hood! Super cozy!

The children's clothing section has plenty to look at, including a beautiful black and floral patterned skirt! 

 And of course, my favorite find at the Market! Though, this find, was just for pets and scratches, not to take home.

The King of the Really Really Free Market! SANDY! 

I hope you enjoyed looking through the photos, if you didn't find anything in the photos that sparked interest, I hope you found inspiration to come take a look at the next Market! Every market is different and you truly never know what you will find!

With light and love,

Kristina Leis

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Grateful Mindset at the Market

                                               Grateful Mindset 
By: Kristina Leis 

Ever wonder if a place exists where no money is exchanged, capitalism is removed and everything being sold is free? Well, the Really Really Free Market Campbell Park has this exact event! It occurs on the first Saturday of each month and they take donations throughout the day. Those donations then get organized into categories and placed on tables. “Customers” are then able to fill their bags with anything they see and like until an Ikea sized bag is full. This sounds amazing, and it is! 

If you’re curious as to whether the market is as crazy as BestBuy on Boxing Day, you can be assured that there is some competition for the nicer items. That being said, the dedicated and hardworking volunteers would appreciate it if everyone waited their turn and chose carefully what items to take. We urge the market goers to choose a grateful mindset over a greedy one. 

The first time I went, I had no idea what to expect. It’s not glamorous or aesthetically pleasing as most capitalist stores are. The event takes place inside of a community building and is quite tight when filled with people, donations, and volunteers. Though the market utilizes the space inside and outside of the building in order to showcase all the donated goods. 

Donation categories include; houseware items, books, movies and DVDs, personal care items, fitness, pet items, clothing, and many more! The left over items then get donated to a charity or church that is willing to accept them. 

With the start of Spring, I urge everyone to do some gratitude thinking and ask themselves if all of the items in their closet, bathroom, and house in general bring joy and spark happiness. The Really Really Free Market is a wonderful place to bring your donations if you aren’t interested in a store gaining profit off your items that are no longer of use to you. It is absolutely wonderful to know that someone will find a dress you haven’t worn in two years and it will spark so much joy for them! Or that coat of yours will keep someone warm during the rest of the winter season.  

If you’re interested in donating to the Market, the next one is happening April 6th, 2019 at Campbell Park! Donations are accepted from 9am to 3pm. Be sure to check out the market, as you never know what you will find. As the saying goes, one person’s trash is another person’s treasure.


Monday, December 10, 2018

We are looking for a volunteer Blogger!

We need someone to write once a month--or less, or more, but on the average about once a month. The posts can be a few lines or many paragraphs (and photos).

The posts can be about stuff found at the market, about your experiences, interviews with visitors, unusual finds, how the market works, or tips for frugal living and waste reduction. The only requirement is updating the market dates once a month and putting up announcements for changes in the market when necessary.

We also welcome once-only blog contributions. 

Interested? Write to us at

Monday, April 23, 2018

Testing Really Really Free Market at University of Toronto!

We were so glad to be invited to university of Toronto (as an extension of their Ecofair) on April 20th. It was organized by the University of Toronto Graduate Students Union (UTGSU) Environmental Justice and Sustainability Committee.

The students were very welcoming to us market volunteers! They did a great job preparing the location, providing tables and clothing racks, and snacks. Also included in the Ecofair were The Repair Cafe, and Bikechain's Bike Check-up, offering free services for the afternoon. 

We had quite a few visitors. We got the word out to some enthusiastic people who plan to visit and donate to our regular monthly market. Thanks to wonderful the volunteers for the afternoon.

See you at the next market!

Content and photo credits: Mim Adams

Saturday, March 24, 2018

Miracle of the Clothes and Dishes: A Tell-All Account of a First Time Volunteer

by Anthony McCanny

One quiet afternoon, one among many spent with my laptop open and my mind on the problems that our world faces, I read an article at Crimethinc about a little town in the United States whose local group of community-minded and free-thinking citizens had put on a market where everything was free. I was blown away, inspired by the struggle they had had to get the market off the ground and defend it from town officials, and how much fun it all seemed, but most of all I was inspired by what an excellent way it was to exercise the more beautiful bits of the human spirit. I believe that people innately love to give to each other, but in a world where there never feels like there’s enough (time, money, attention, stuff), we’re all too scared to. The Really Really Free Market created a safe space for people to give and receive with no money changing hands. And maybe if we practiced those skills, we could start giving and receiving more in our lives and making the world a little brighter as we did it.

But there wasn’t a Really Really Free Market in the town that I lived in and my initial enthusiasm for starting one faded away as life and all of its fascinating events swept me away into a move to the big city. It was a couple months later, in Toronto, that I was trying to explain to a neighbour that I wanted to garden for her and wanted nothing in exchange, that I believed in creating something called a ‘gift economy’ and her memory was tweaked.

“Oh,” she said, “like that market that happens at Campbell Park where people give things away. It’s called the Free Market or…”

“The Really Really Free Market?!” I gasped, my eyes opening wide.

“That’s it,” she said, surprised, a bit taken back.

I babbled something at her, but I don’t think that I could properly explain to her how excited I was that I had by accident found my own personal Holy Grail. And I didn’t even have to start it.

I wrote an impassioned email to, full of starry-eyed idealism about what the Market could be and how I had to be involved and two weeks later I was trekking down Lansdowne Avenue towards my first shift as a volunteer at the market with my folding shopping cart hopping and rattling behind me.

My heart climbed a little higher in my chest as I saw the “Really Really Free Market” banner draped over the fence along Campbell Avenue. In the winter months, the Market happens in the community area/storage space/skating-rink-change-room at the park. Outside the big glass windows, lines of free shoes (“Really free, everything’s free,” I had to remind myself.) greeted me. Through the window I could see that the Market was bustling inside. With the air of an 8-year-old stepping through the gates of Disneyland for the first time, I stopped my cart outside and stepped through the doors.

I introduced myself, found my name on the list and was immediately whisked off by Suzan, the force behind the Market, to learn how it all works. I was pointed to the tables, each destined for different sorts of gifts: kitchen stuff here, food beside it, housewares over there, health and beauty against the far wall. As a volunteer, it was my duty to keep some sort of order in the Market, things on their proper tables and laid out so that everyone can see them. But there’s not too much standing on ceremony at the market, nothing needs to be just so. The volunteers know the Market has a life of its own: so many things are coming in throughout the day and so many things leaving so fast and the occasional item is misplaced as people move through the market, so a strict order isn’t expected. You do as much as you can, knowing that each fold and tidy will help the right person find the right gift, but accepting that there’s a certain happy chaos to the whole event and that above all, your job is never done. That… is kind of the fun part.

The energy of the Market, from start to finish is radiant. It comes from all the people inside, volunteers desperately trying to organize tables, and hang clothes while visitors bustle through the market and donators keep showing up at the door. Even in a rare quiet moment, when the space is mostly empty, the mystery of the tables and all their treasures draw you in, they have a magnetism of their own. It always feels like on the next table, or the next hanger, you will find the perfect thing. And, I think, more often than you’d suspect, you’re right.

The energy of it all had me swept away in a second. My first task was folding a sprawling mess of upholstery fabric that was threatening to take over not just its own table but the ones beside it too. In a moment I had dived under the table to the other side where there was a little bit of free floor space to wrangle the monster. I had dusty knees and a slightly bruised back from a misestimation of the height of the table when I emerged back on the market side of the tables. But I was smiling. That’s just the crazy sort of thing that the Market makes you do.

In fact, the Market is so bewitching that it was almost twenty minutes later that I remembered I had left my cart just sitting outside by the free shoes, for anyone in need of a cart to take home. That’s a real danger when you enter a world where everything’s free. Leave something unattended for long enough and it could inadvertently become a gift. Luckily, my cart was still there and after stowing it somewhere out of the way I was back into the market where I’d meet my ultimate challenge…

The clothing rack.

I had been started on the tables of housewares, books and toys for a reason. They’re the training ground. But the clothing rack, with its constant flow of clothes that need hangers, is the major leagues. Clothes are one of the most gifted items at the Market, and not surprisingly: in our culture we just have so many. A whole wall of the market is dedicated just to a series clothing racks and even then children’s clothes, bathing suits, socks and other stowaways overflow onto one of the tables nearby.

I spent at least an hour, maybe two, doing nothing but hanging clothes, hunting down more empty hangers, and then hanging more. It could be a frustrating job, especially as you see the clothes that you’ve just hung being taken down by grateful hunters all around you. In fact, as a clothes-hanging volunteer you can sometimes become the most popular girl at the dance. You are the source of all that is new and exciting! So as you hang, people have an eye on you and the new items that you’re bringing to the rack. Your work is undone right before your eyes as the beautiful t-shirt, the sequinned dress, the really cozy sweater is dehangered moments after you’ve just wrestled it into place.

It could be a frustrating job. But it’s not. It wasn’t for me. Once you understand who the people at the Market are, it’s anything but frustrating. The people who are taking your clothing off the rack are those of us with low or no income, who need the gifts the Market has to offer; they are the people trying to save a buck or two on their family’s clothing budget so they can use it somewhere else; they are the hipsters and the counter-culturals delighted to deck themselves out in a new used outfit; they are the creatives and the recyclers, looking to repurpose and find the perfect materials to breath new life into; they are the woman I met who was looking for t-shirts to take to the group home that her brother runs. How can I do anything but smile as they take the clothes they need from the rack?

It’s funny how the moment that you put on a volunteer badge you instantly become an expert on everything. As I was asked my first couple questions I just wanted to say, “I have no idea! I have literally been here less time than you have!” But I didn’t, and helped every way I could. It was actually a question that I was asked near the end of my time at the market that I found most interesting.

“Where does all this come from?” a woman asked, gesturing at all the items, so many that I was racing just to hang them all.

I was wondering the same thing, but I told her what I knew. “They’re all gifts. People bring it in as they come by to visit."

“I know,” she said, “but where does all the stuff come from to start with? At the beginning of the market?”

It was a good question. There was so much there, never a shortage, how did the organizers know the plenty would come? And what if it didn’t?

I gave her the theory that I’d worked out so far. “I’m not sure, but the Market has storage space.  We might keep things from the end of the last market to put out at the beginning of the next one-”

Thankfully, I was interrupted by a more experienced volunteer. “No, we don’t hold anything after the market, everything gets donated after it’s over. Every item here was given today. Before the market opens people come by and drop stuff off. There’s always enough.”

As I heard that, the story of the miracle of the loaves and fishes came to mind. I grew up Catholic and it was one of my favourite stories in Sunday School. For those who don’t know: Jesus is talking to a large crowd of people who have followed him out to the middle of nowhere. It’s getting late and Jesus’ followers are getting antsy because they’re about to have a big, hungry crowd on their hands and there’s nothing to eat. They want to send the crowd away but Jesus is like, ‘No that’s ridiculous, I brought food with me, bring them that.’ And the followers bring out the two fishes and five loaves of barley bread that they’d brought with them. And even though they think Jesus is crazy they start splitting it up and sharing the food.

At the end of the meal they pass baskets around to collect the leftovers, and incredibly there are seven baskets of bread and fish that come back and everyone is well fed. It’s impossible!

I guess the point of that story is supposed to be that Jesus created a miracle, but somewhere along the way I got another story inside my head. I’d always thought that the miracle was somewhat metaphorical, that it was a miracle of generosity. When Jesus stepped forward and gave everything he had away, it inspired other people to give what they had too, and throughout the crowd everyone who had food squirrelled away brought it out and shared it around. And when people gave freely, there was so much plenty that there were literal baskets of leftovers!

On the first Saturday of every month another miracle happens. We all say that we’re going to give our things freely and it brings such generosity that every time, without a plan, and without a fallback, a market springs up out of nowhere, literally overflowing with beautiful, wonderful and useful things. No one goes wanting, and afterwards, there are baskets of leftovers.

If you want to be part of the next miracle, it’s coming on Saturday, April 7th, same time (10am-4pm) same place (Campbell Park. We’ll probably be inside unless it gets really warm, really fast.) We’d love to see you there. And I’ll be volunteering for my second time, so I’ll basically be an old pro. Come ask me any question you can think of, I’ll be ready!

*    *    *

My name’s Anthony and I’ll be taking over the blog for the next little while. I am very excited to get to write things for you every month. If you have any questions, anything you’d like me to write about, or anything you’d like to submit to see up on the blog, email and it will find its way to me. Or track me down at the market. I’m the really tall one with glasses, wild hair and one long braid dangling off the left side of my head. You can’t miss me!

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

What kinds of things can you find at the market?

The list is endless. But here are some random things from past markets:




We only photograph a fraction of the things that come to the market. For example, we often forget to photograph electronics! And pet stuff! And food!