REED POINT — Driving down Division Street in the small town of Reed Point, there is a gas station, an RV park, a restaurant, and 83-year-old Elmer Lloyd sitting outside of his store.
Lloyd offers up some big deals at his shop. Most of the things inside are free.
“I started it up at the dump. Somebody brought something in there I thought somebody else might want. Boy, did it bloom from there,” Lloyd said.
Lloyd's free store has been open and collecting various items for the last three years. What started as mostly items from the "dump" turned into people bringing their unwanted items to Lloyd's store instead of throwing them out.
“Oh, lots of glassware. I got a few electronics. I’ve got a couple of recliners. I’ve got some beds back there. I’ve got just about a big variety,” he said.
Free stuff may not be the most interesting part of the story, either. Lloyd bought the old Reed Point Mercantile for someone else. Someone he barely knew at the time.
Lloyd said that he was walking down the street and saw a man standing outside the building for sale located at 119 Division St. and asked him if he was going to purchase it. The man— Lloyd called him Steve— said he wanted to turn it into a pizza restaurant and ice cream parlor but couldn't afford to buy it. So, Lloyd told him he would purchase it for him.
Lloyd said he purchased the building for $35,000. Steve, who lives in Texas, has paid Lloyd every month over the years and is almost at the halfway point of paying for it all.
Until Steve comes to take over, Lloyd is keeping the space occupied by running the free store out of the building.
Allen Cowger lives in Oregon but stays in Reed Point in the summer with his cousin. He makes sure to stop by the free store at least once a week when he is in town.
“I especially come to see this old boy. I mean there ain’t too many people left like Elmer. I’m proud to know him and like everybody else, I appreciate him sitting for the free store,” Cowger said. “It’s well worth coming by and taking a look. Everybody wants something. Everybody needs something.”
Meeting people and "talking with strangers" is Lloyd's favorite part about running his store.
Not everything inside the store is free. Lloyd said the barber shop equipment inside is for Steve's wife to use. He also won't let you take the skeleton decoration or the ladder found in the back.
There is also another rule to follow when shopping at the free store.
“The one rule, you go in there empty-handed, you come out with something in your hand,” Lloyd said while laughing.