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“Buy nothing” day a hit in Grand Rapids park

In sharp contrast to the chaos at many shopping centers during Black Friday, Occupy Grand Rapids held an event today encouraging people to buy nothing.

“This isn’t the way that Christmas has to be, you know?”

Mandi Creveling lined up clothes, books, kids toys and electronics in neat rows on top of a blue tarp. All of it is up for grabs at the “really free market”. She’s been organizing free markets in Grand Rapids for about 5 years. It’s like a flea market, but where everything is free.

“We wanted to take a day to say that we’re not going to support those big corporations that tend to exploit their workers,” Creveling said. “Buy nothing” day isn’t supposed to be anti-business but Creveling acknowledges it is touchy subject. “I really think it’s important to think about our local businesses during Christmas and start asking questions about where we’re buying stuff from,” Creveling said.

It was sunny and nearly 60-degrees at Monument park where “buy nothing” took place. At least 60 people took part in knitting circles and other crafts in the middle of a park downtown. Kids decorated old newspapers to use as wrapping paper.

A gentleman named Bill told me he’d rather not share his last name, but he was happy to show me the gifts he got at the marker; a juicer, a coffee pot and a new radio.

“I got grandkids who need stuff for Christmas,” Bill said, frowning, “Me being broke, man you know, I feel weird when they buy me stuff and I don’t get them nothing.”

Bill says he’s happy to have stumbled upon the market while walking to church event downtown. He got enough stuff he had to call a friend to bring a car to help him get it all back home.

Lindsey Smith is a Peabody Award-winning journalist currently leading the station's Amplify Team. She previously served as Michigan Public's Morning News Editor, Investigative Reporter and West Michigan Reporter.