While virtual yard sale sites are gaining in popularity, one Reston resident hopes her alternative site — Buy Nothing Reston — will gain traction. Buy Nothing, part of a larger nationl movement, encourages a trade economy with heart.
Kristi Guidry, founder of Buy Nothing Reston, says nothing is for sale. The idea is “gifting” to your neighbors out of the kindness of your heart, and knowing that the kindness could come back to you if you’re ever in need of something as well.
Buy Nothing also promotes the idea of community, and of helping and getting to know your neighbors. When they say neighbors, they mean it, because everyone has to live within the Reston limits in order to join the group.
The site has no rules such as “first come, first serve,” taking the highest and best offer, or “priority to first pick-up.” In fact, the “gifter” gets to select the “giftee” based on his or her own criteria or virtues.
It’s an idea that has been catching on worldwide, says Guidry. More than 80,000 members have joined the movement worldwide in the last few years.
The “Buy Nothing Project” originally started in the Seattle area. Guidry’s sister, who lives there, was a member. When Guidry looked to see if there was a local group here, she discovered there were none in the D.C. area. That’s when the stay-at-home mom decided to start her own.
The organizers of the larger umbrella organization helped get a Reston site, in the form of a Facebook group, up and running. Then, all she needed were local members.
The group began less than three months ago and now has more than 130 members, Guidry said.
The site is mutually beneficial to both the “gifters” and “giftees.” The gifters can get rid of things they no longer need and de-clutter, and giftees can find things they really need that they may not be able to afford or that don’t necessarily need to be brand-new, said Guidry.
“Very often we have things lying around that we wouldn’t necessarily think to offer up to a friend, because you don’t know if they need them,” she says. “So the idea [with Buy Nothing Reston] is to get together and pool resources before going out into the marketplace and spending money.”
As the administrator for the Buy Nothing Reston group on Facebook, Guidry personally approves every new member that requests to join the group, after first verifying that he or she lives in Reston.
She said she also has a “chat” with each new member to orientate him or her to the site’s guidelines and ways of thinking. Then she explains how it works, such as not using typical typical yard sale site language.
“If you could use something someone is offering up, you comment in the thread and tell why you could use the item; you don’t just say “interested” or “backup” like you see on yard sale sites,” she said. “And [getting an item] doesn’t go by the order people were interested, the owner actually chooses the person whose reason resonates the most with them.”
People can post on the site if they are in need of something, to see if any members have the item and are willing to part with it.
“For example, recently, a woman posted that she really needed a pair of ice skates for her daughter,” Guidry said. “And someone had a pair lying around that they didn’t need anymore, so her need got fulfilled.”
Similarly, Reston also has a Useful Services Exchange (USE). Members trade everything from babysitting to baked goods to car rides in this time bank.
Running the site has inspired her so much, Guidry says she now helps run about 30 sites across the mid-Atlantic region. Recently, she also helped launch one in Herndon.
Guidry said the site also aims to foster a sense of community between Reston neighbors.
“We try to keep the posts personal — we want you to really connect with why someone needs something,” she said. “The site helps people learn about each other. We try to bring the community together and get neighbors together.”
Photo: On Buy Nothing Reston, neighbors gift to each other for free such items as clothing, extra produce from one’s garden, tools and more/Courtesy of Buynothingproject.org.