by Thomas MacMillan | Aug 25, 2011 8:28 am
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As the recently closed New Haven Free Store searches for a new home, founder Ben Aubin is keeping the dream alive with an upcoming fundraising fashion show.
The Free Store, an experiment in for-profit, no-price commerce, shut its doors last month after a brief run as a popular alternative-economy enterprise. The store offered a variety of clothes and housewares for one low price: free.
The shop had intended to move to a new location on Court Street but the new landlord got cold feet after a fight broke out between two volunteers packing up for the move.
That development disappointed a lot of fans of the Free Store, Aubin said. “Something violent got in the away of something good.”
Since then he has been working to find a new location to reopen the store.
He said he’s considering opening the store in Fair Haven or on Whalley Avenue. In the meantime, he’s begun volunteering his time with a youth organization and preparing a group of young entrepreneurs to run the next iteration of the Free Store.
Aubin has been volunteering with teens from the Childrens Community Programs of Connecticut (CCPC) on Blake Street in Westville. Together they’re organizing a fundraising fashion show for Sept. 10 from 4 to 7 p.m. at 756 Chapel St.
Aubin has also lined up support from Connecticut BioFuels, his employer. In addition to sponsoring the fashion show, the company is donating to a fund to re-open the Free Store whenever its client businesses express their support for the project.
The September fundraiser will also go towards re-opening the Free Store, Aubin said. The event will include the give-away of donated clothes, along with the sale of donated clothes that have been altered by fashion designers or modified with screenprints.
Aubin said he’s hoping the future free store will be run by the young entrepreneurs he’s connected with through the CCPC.
The original Free Store was founded by four, but Aubin is the only one left. Two recently moved to San Francisco and the other has moved on to other things.
“I’m definitely trying,” Aubin said.