Proud to be from Pittsburgh: The Free Store in Braddock

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BRADDOCK, Pa. —

Gisele Fetterman never worked in retail but you’d never know from the way she runs The Free Store in Braddock.

"So these are our store rules: Be kind. Take only what you need, and pay it forward,” she explained

Simple rules that are the only currency needed at the store.

“They don't realize it's actually free,” she told Channel 11’s Peggy Finnegan. “They will say, "well, how much do I owe you?"  No, it's really free and they are like "can I give a hug?" And yes, we take hugs!“

Fetterman is the wife of Braddock’s mayor and she founded The Free Store in 2012 as another way to serve families in her community.

“She is truly a gem.  Not only does she honor God, but she honors her husband and the community.  We love her,” said volunteer Dorothy Guy.

The store is actually a repurposed colorful shipping container that is bursting with items.

Fetterman took Peggy on a tour and explained how everything here is donated, with grocery stores and other retailers making regular drop offs.

On this day, the Free Store received a huge shipment of backpacks.

They will be unpacked and wedged into the tight, colorful mosaic of shoes, clothing, toys and food.

Fetterman said local students have made donations and she sent them pictures to know how much those contributions help.

“This was your coat, now this little girl owns it.  So I think that means a lot to people,” she said. 

The store has grown in popularity with families from other communities now coming there.

The Free Store is open three days a week and by appointment. It serves up to 400 people each week.

To learn more or to make a donation, click here.