Share Fair gives old stuff a second life

Francis Drenth, 5, adjusts the hat he made of recycled materials at the 5th Street Share Fair in Santa Rosa. (photo by John Burgess/Press Democrat)


A Windsor couple’s junk was a Sebastopol man’s treasure at the Fifth Street Share Fair held Sunday in downtown Santa Rosa.

Hundreds of people milled around booths of crafts and children’s games and a swap-meet at the first “share fair” organized by the Share Exchange cooperative along two blocks of Fifth Street between B and Orchard streets.

What began as a paltry trickle of items grew into heaps of clothes, books, electronics, dishes, records and other wares on tables in the designated share area at a B Street parking lot. At least 50 people bought the $5 pink wristbands to participate in the swap.

“Probably the most ecological thing you can do is not buy so much new stuff,” said Ben Zolno, 33, of Sebastopol.

Zolno and his girlfriend Jenni Perez, 24, of San Francisco added a pile of clothes to the share tables and walked away with a camping backpack, computer bag, food strainer, teapot and dishes.

“It means so much more to take things from someone who doesn’t want them anymore,” Perez said.

Their new teapot and bag had been added to the piles by Jenni Silverstein, 35, and Liz Alber, 43, of Windsor, who walked away with fresh radishes, the soundtrack to the movie Kill Bill and hangers.

Share Exchange co-founder Kelley Rajala said the event’s concept was three-pronged: bring more people to Fifth Street, promote local purveyors and get people to buy local goods.

“We should never have to import another apple again,” said Rajala, who also launched the Sonoma County GoLocal Cooperative.

Rajala and her co-founders in December opened the exchange storefront, where they sell goods produced by local people.

They’re also promoting new groups that encourage exchanges or bartering. One group, called Urban Garden Share, connects people with unused land with people who have none but would like to grow food. The South Bay website Rentalic connects people who want to share or rent things ranging from lawn mowers to cars.

“In case the economy doesn’t turn itself around, we have to figure things out ourselves,” Rajala said.

While having fun, of course.

Activities buzzed along a half-block devoted to the youngest minds, where children blew bubbles, played with magnets and peered through magnifying glass at preserved butterflies.

Trevor Salizar, 6, punched a design through the paper on a crown-like hat he was making. “It’s a bear!” he said, and turned to his mother, Rachael Salizar, 31, of Santa Rosa.

Salizar, a nursing student who works at Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital, said the event made her remember what it was like to think like a child.

“It evokes so much imagination,” she said, and pointed to a cardboard box painted with flowers. “That’s way better than going to Target to buy a toy box.”

You can reach Staff Writer Julie Johnson at 521-5220 or

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