Talkeetna is home to a number of stores, most of which cater to visitors. One, however, is more geared toward locals, and you don’t need much money, none, in fact, in order to shop there. Recently, however, it has closed its doors, leading to concern among some locals.
For the last few days, the windows and door of the Free Box Community Store have been boarded up. That left many local residents wondering if the store will ever re-open. Nancy Yow, board president for the Free Box, says permanent closure is unlikely.
“Don’t panic. It’s just reorganization. It’s happened however many times before, and we’ve always gotten better.”
Nancy says the Free Box has reorganized multiple times in the past. It has been a church project, an independent 501c3 organization, and is currently run by a board of directors. Though she currently chairs that board, Nancy Yow would like to see the decision-making process expanded to more of the community.
“I’m trying to maybe get away from the incorporation and the board, where the community as a whole can come back together and run it like it used to be run. Back then, there were issues with it, so it was incorporated, but I personally don’t feel that the community has a say in the way it’s set up, now.”
One trigger for this closure of the Free Box is an issue that has been a consistent problem for the team of volunteers that keep it open.
“Trash. There’s a lot of things–we’ve put up signs–we’ve asked people please don’t drop of TVs, and computers, and bags of dirty diapers. It has become a trash dump, because people just don’t want to take it to the dump, or they may think, ‘Well a few holes in the knees of a pair of jeans…someone could patch that up and use them.’ But, when stuff like that is dropped off, if we hung that up, people don’t take it. It could sit there for six months.”
Nancy Yow says she realizes the Free Box is important to the community, and that she has found herself volunteering for the store while wearing a complete outfit she found there. She is not sure what a new structure might look like or when it could be implemented. She says that the board will meet next week to discuss the future of one of Talkeetna’s most popular “shopping” destinations.