On Wednesday September the 21st, the Giveaway Shop Koningsdaal opened its doors in Nijmegen-West. Everyone is welcome to bring or take stuff and the shop does not ask for compensation. Loek Peters, coordinator of the shop, tells about the concept and the future of the giveaway shop. ‘It has an important function for the neighborhood’.
Two weeks ago, the Giveaway Shop Koningsdaal organised a festive opening. A week later, the shop has gained a cozy ambiance and is full of donated stuff which customers are free to take. ‘The shop has an important function for the neighborhood’, says shop coordinator Loek Peters. This is because customers don’t only come to ‘shop’, but also for social interaction. With a satisfied look, Peters sits down in a chair in the meeting place of the shop, where people can drink coffee and talk. ‘It’s really starting to take off.’
The shop is an initiative of a group which split off from a team in Hatert. ‘We used to have a giveaway shop there for eight years, but the house in which the shop was located was sold’, Peters says. The new shop is being run by three volunteers. ‘This building belongs to a housing corporation. Apart from a small fee for maintenance, we can use this building for free.’
You can’t take everything
In the giveaway shop, everything is free. However, you can only take five items at a time. ‘Some items count as a set, like cups’, Peters explains. ‘In addition, some items are donated in such large quantities that they don’t count, like CD’s and DVD’s. You can take as many of those as you like.’ The volunteers keep an eye on what the customers take, to make sure they don’t stock items in order to resell them. ‘For example, if someone comes in to take cutlery every week, then you know this person is selling scrap. We intervene when someone is suspicious.’
The shop is full of donated kitchen utensils, clothing and books. Peters says that he doesn’t accept all donations. Today a woman came to donate slatted bases, but those were refused. ‘We won’t get rid of them, so I will have to bring them to the DAR eventually’, Peters explains. ‘There is much more being donated than there is being taken. If people could load up their whole car and dump everything here, the shop would be full in no time.’ He recounts how they sometimes find peculiar things. ‘Back in Hatert, we once received a suitcase filled with sand. Another time I chanced upon an urn filled with ashes. I made sure to scatter those over the canal.’
A kind of town square
The giveaway shop can be a help to families with a low income, but is not exclusively meant for them. ‘We don’t check at the door whether someone has a pass for the food bank or not, for example. It is pleasant that people can just walk in without having to prove anything’, Peters says. He explains the shop has a social function. ‘People meet each other here. It is like a town square.’ The volunteers have a ‘meeting place’ in the shop equipped with coffee, tea and cookies. ‘Above this place, there are seventy apartments where no one knows each other. Our shop can enable contact’, Peters says. ‘Because we have limited opening hours, there is a bigger chance people run into one another.’
Plans for the future
Peter hopes more giveaway shops will open their doors in the future. ‘It would be great if every neighborhood had one.’ He wants to found an organisation to help people who want to start a giveaway shop. ‘Then I would be able to help them with contact with housing corporations, because they are more likely to conduct business with an organisation than with multiple small shops.’ He explains that giveaway shops can have different roles in different neighborhoods. ‘In Hatert, where there are many people with low incomes, people would probably come to the giveaway shop with different reasons than in Nijmegen-East, where people would primarily come to the shop because it is sustainable.’ However, according to Peters the concept of a giveaway shop will always stay the same: everything is free and everyone is welcome.
Giveaway shop Koningsdaal is open on Wednesday and Saturday from 13:00 till 17:00. You can find the shop at Winselingseweg blok 10A.
This article was published in Dutch on September 29th 2022.