Railing at Rust Belt Market has Free Winter Items for Those in Need

Railing at Rust Belt Market has Free Winter Items for Those in Need

(Crystal A. Proxmire, Jan. 31, 2019)

Ferndale, MI- Bus stops are bitterly cold this time of year, Downtown Ferndale’s Rust Belt Market has found a way to spread a little warmth to the busy 9 Mile and Woodward intersection.

Hanging along the railings of the large artist’s market are jackets, scarves, gloves, sweaters, and hats, plus signs saying “FREE Please take if you are cold.”

This first happened in 2015, when several Ferndale women began leaving scarves with notes at the bus stops.  Rust Belt Market owners Chris and Tiffany Best welcomed the idea at their corner property and had the signs made. The momentum fizzled with a few milder winters, but with 2019’s Winter Vortex putting Ferndale in below zero temperatures, one of The Rust Belt’s longest vendors stepped in to revive the tradition.

Heather Rhea runs Painted Lady Trahions, a business located near the front of the market that stands out for their collection of oddities including mounted animal heads, animals preserved in jars, religious artifacts, strange medical tools, knickknacks that make people pause and say “hmm,” as well as delightfully strange fashionable things.  “It was three years ago that we did this outside of the market with hats,” Rhea said.  “I felt bad that we didn’t continue it so I decided to start it back up this year.”

“It’s been a huge hit. It’s a lot of people that are homeless or they are getting on and off the bus. It’s also been people that seriously need warm clothes. Those two spots are perfect because you can hit them from either bus stop,” she said.

Downtown Ferndale Director Barry Hicks said of the effort, “It is touching to see the kindness of the Rust Belt doing whatever they can to help those that may need warm clothes during such a cold times.  Actions like that speak volumes about the real people and their big hearts that are behind our business community.”

Chris Best is glad to see the giveaways revived, and gives credit to Rhea for leading the way.  “Heather from Painted Lady Trashions started it back up this year and has been driving it,” he said.  “She asked if we still had the signs and we did! I’m glad I horde. Take that Marie Kondo!”

People are welcome to hang new or gently used items near the signs to keep the supply up.  Items are being claimed quickly, and it’s up to the public to keep the warmth going by leaving donations.

To read about the 2015 effort, click here.

For more on Rust Belt Market, click here.

For a list of Resources for those in Need, click here.

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