Not sure whether to describe the Long Beach Free Store as a new idea or an old one but when it opened for business on 14 August it certainly attracted an eager crowd of customers. The concept behind the Californian, volunteer-run project is that customers can simply take what they need from the store, which stocks clothing, household goods, books, games and media. They can donate items in exchange, as long as they are clean and in good condition, or make a cash contribution towards rent and running costs – but they don't have to do either. The Catalyst Network of Communities, the non-profit body behind the store, hopes it will encourage sharing and a sense of community. Will it catch on elsewhere? Perhaps. As recent events in London have shown, the taking of goods is easy – giving in return is a bit more difficult.