Mounds of clothes spill over stacks of books, cassettes, bags brimming with costumes and small appliances. The faint aroma of grilling hot dogs acts as the brew of the melting pot of free stuff available at the Carrboro Really Really Free Market.
On the first Saturday of each month, Carrboro hosts a free market where people can bring anything to share and take anything offered. The event is held at the Carrboro Town Commons on West Main Street from 2 to 4 p.m. This free market has been running since the early 2000s and has no leaders or organizers. Rather, it is a place for all to feel equal, community member Brian Dee said.
The Really Really Free Market emphasizes an alternative mode of community that isn’t centered on economics. Anarchy and anti-capitalism are mindsets shared by many, but not all, market-goers.
“Often our driving force is the desire to acquire, but here it is about giving,” Dee said.
Dee has been coming to this market since 2005 and said it has maintained a pretty steady character. Often crowds are larger with warmer weather. Sometimes people will come to perform or to offer services like giving hair cuts, and people always use the space to give and receive as a community.
Vinci Daro and Daniel Amoni gave birth to the idea for this free market many years ago. The theme of anti-capitalism is still eminent as pamphlets advocating against normalized work ethics and de-stigmatizing gender binaries litter one of the tables. Banners by the pavilion read: “carnival against capitalism” and “total liberation from domination.”
“I think capitalism is cancer,” market-goer Lydia Marrett said. “Capitalism depends on a system of continuous growth like cancer does, and both need space to consume.”
Marrett has been coming to this market since 2010 and believes in its ability to show people that there are enough resources for all to share and that sharing causes less conflict.
Not everyone at the market has a political agenda, and Dee described it as a place for all walks of life.
“I am not against capitalism,” Mike Conrad, a former UNC professor, said. “I like to take advantage of the benefits of Adam Smith’s ideas.”
However, Conrad picked up a pamphlet from the event and said he was excited to read about the "radical anarchist left-wing establishment."
Dave Deming does not identify as anti-capitalist, but said his mantra “bon vivant, raconteur,” which translates loosely from French to someone who lives well and tells stories, aligns with the positive communal aura of the free market.
Deming chooses to share food at the market each month. On Saturday, he grilled hot dogs and served a shrimp rice dish alongside cupcakes provided by another market regular. In this way he can share stories with the people who eat his food and who sometimes pick him out items they think he will appreciate.
Sharing stories is also a source of joy for high school English teacher Leah Elliott. Elliott said she writes poems for market-goers who want to hear them. Elliott writes about a variety of subjects including the anti-capitalist sentiment of the free market.
“I feel really passionate about our community coming together to stand up against corporate tyranny,” Elliott said. “I guess I could say this is an act of rebellion. My rebellion is to try to be open-hearted and to remind people of real human value.”
For Elliott and many who convene at this market each month, the idea of taking focus away from money and investing time into something that fosters unity is crucial.
“We have gotten so caught up in money and we piss away things that really have intrinsic value for things that don’t,” Elliott said. “I am tired of it.”
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