My Sister’s Corner: The Free Store

My Sister's CornerBy Jameka Delaine |

Alissa “Ali” Black isn’t ashamed to say there is nothing better than free.

Black is the founder of My Sister’s Corner, a non-profit free store that has been up and running since November 2013.The store gained attention immediately on Craiglist and soon Black was receiving daily phone calls from people inquiring about the store.

Once the ad was posted and the phone calls started coming in, Black realized how big of a deal her store was for people. Her customers tend to become emotional.

“I really wasn’t prepared for the emotional side of it. People get personal with you. I’m not sure what it is,” Black said. “I get a lot of hugs from people too.”

Even though all the items in My Sister’s Corner have been donated in one way or another, Black does not compare My Sister’s Corner to Goodwill or other thrift stores. Her free store doesn’t call for monetary payment.

“All that I ask is if people are able and willing, they should bring something or multiple somethings in exchange for whatever they take,” Black said. “It is not a requirement; just a suggestion.”

Black was inspired by a free store that was hosted once a year in Chicago, her hometown, for a weekend. She volunteered for the store in 2009 and fell in love with the concept. Four years later, My Sister’s Corner was born.

Black invested a lot of thought on the mechanics of her non-profit. Choosing a name took up a significant amount of time.

“A friend of mine’s mother works in the non-profit sector and I spoke with her about where I was taking this idea. She gave me some tips about finding a name. It needed to be something safe and cozy, like a corner or a closet,” Black said. “My sister has always been my best friend and a mother to me; she has always made me feel safe. I decided to honor her.

Unsurprising to Black, her sister was supportive of her newest endeavor. Along with the support of her sister, Black has the support of both her daughter and fiancée.

“She loves me very much and is supportive of everything I do,” said Black.

Black hopes that the store will eventually occupy a larger space than it does now. Black also hopes that the store will eventually branch out and appear across the U.S.

“I know it may seem like it’s asking a lot, but it’s really not much different than websites like FreeCycle, where people post items that they are getting rid of and they give them away for free,” Black said.

Black hopes that stores like My Sister’s Corner will reduce wastefulness and materalism.

“We put such a price tag on things. Everybody wants to have the newest and the best and the latest model.” Black said. “We have clothing, electronics and furniture and we throw things away because they have a scratch or something is chipped when that could be someone else’s treasure.”

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