Everything is Free at "Needs Cleveland," New Store on West Side

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At an innovative new store on Lorain Ave., everything is free. Literally. There are no price tags, no cash registers, no strictly enforced rules. It's just a way, says the Ripcho Family (of Ripcho Studios, also on Lorain) to help out families in need. 

"Needs Cleveland" is open for only two hours each week (though another two-hour block will be added at the end of the month), and the inventory, gathered from local schools' bounty of lost and found items, is ransacked in toto.

Last Thursday, from 12:30 - 2:30 p.m., NewsChannel 5 reported that 500-600 people waited in lines to get a chance to pick through the selection.

The "need" clearly exists in a city where one in three people (and about half of all children) live in poverty.  

"People think we're looking for residency requirements or income requirements," Alison Ripcho told NewsChannel 5, "but there really is none."

The only request is that shoppers limit themselves to five items per member of the household. The Ripchos will be adding diapers and hygiene items to their stock of clothes and school supplies.

In addition to the Thursday open hours tomorrow, Needs Cleveland will be hosting a Winter Warmup this Sunday, with free jackets, hats and gloves for folks in need (plus hot dogs and hamburgers and live entertainment). 

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