Der Umsonstladen in Witzenhausen

Wopila, moneyless culture, the vector equilibrium and the circle

All free – all just trash?

Yes – we live in a throwaway society. The profit-oriented economy requires the principle of planned obsolescence to function in the long term. This inevitably leads to a lot of scrap being found in our free stores. It is particularly annoying when it is simply left outside and we then have to dispose of it. We would like to see a completely different way of doing business, we don’t want to be a mere redistribution point for the scrap we produce. We want a society in which the power by which things are created is respected again and not just seen as a mere basis for increasing our own. What could that look like?


In the native North American culture, passed down alive in the practices of the Lakota, there was and still is a special thanksgiving ceremony, the Wopila, on the occasion of successful rituals. In gratitude for enabling spiritual development, the spiritual disciple presents the entire tribe with precious and abundant gifts so that everyone receives their share. The gifts are usually self-made and thus reflect the personality of the disciple. This is to express: “I give because I know that I am a part of you. By receiving, you become a part of me”. It is not easy to transfer this to our modern world. Above all, where is the tribe and where is the spiritual practice? Art can give us a glimpse of where our journey might take us.

The Vector-Equilibrium

This geometric shape represents a balanced energetic state. All vectors are of equal length. Every natural system strives for this state. So does our Stoffwechsel. Without a balanced give and take, the store would either be empty or overflowing. The forces that lead into the system also lead out again. Therefore, please only give gifts that you would like to receive again in another life situation.

The Great Circle

The vector equilibrium consists of a number of nested circles. If every natural system strives for this form, then so does our earth. In our highly complex, fully networked world, it is difficult to differentiate between groups that are responsible for our development, just as the tribe once was. The stars are knocking at the door. We have indeed become one human family. This great circle becomes visible in public spaces that are dedicated to balancing forces, like Stoffwechsel. So please treat this room and the people in it like the rooms of your family.

I am writing this text on the occasion of the gift of a print of a vector equilibrium (as well as other beautiful graphics) by the brilliant graphic artist, Veskor Cassiopeia. It is ideal to symbolize the basic principles of our metabolism and will shine above the entrance in the future. Thank you so much for this wonderful gift, dear Veskor. This really touched my soul.

Johannes Winter for Stoffwechsel

The Stoffwechsel is not a recycling bin for clothes

It is a social experiment!

Unfortunately, we keep finding that things are left outside our doors outside opening hours, even though we have made it known in huge letters on the door and also on the website that we do not want this. We feel violated by this, as you are signaling that you are disregarding our communicated needs for smooth operation. We are particularly annoyed by large pieces of furniture, baby carriages, broken or dirty clothes and carelessly thrown together leftover boxes. Mountains of video cassettes, for example, are also annoying because they are stupid to dispose of. We usually take clothes placed in bags outside the door directly to the container. We would be very happy if you could take this work off our hands.

For everything you hand in, please consider whether it can actually be received as a gift or whether it is more work to process or dispose of than it is worth.

In order to develop an understanding for this, we would like you to hand in the items during opening hours so that you can take the items that cannot be used with you for your own disposal. We would prefer it if you could see for yourself what is needed in the store and what is available, so that you can make room for your precious gifts and sort them yourself.

Solidarity not charity

In 2023 we have said goodbye to our sponsor Transition Town Witzenhausen e.V.. We are an independent group. Our goal is to create so much awareness among our visitors for the requirements of a smooth operation that we basically only have to open and close the doors. With this in mind, you are all welcome to get involved! This starts with you actually bringing us only fine gifts so that we have to dispose of as little as possible, so that we have as little trouble, stress and work with the material as possible.

In addition to donations, we are also very happy about regular help. If you are interested, just join us for a shift or contact us by email.

Please don’t drop stuff in front of the doors

We can only open once a week at the moment, so we can’t handle the usual volumes. Things are piling up in front of the doors. Please do not put anything there anymore, and only bring things during opening hours.

We are looking for new people who want to get involved. Get in touch with us:

Closed this winter

Along with all other non-grocery stores we are closed. If all goes well, we will welcome you back on Monday, 11th January 2021. We will publish information on our reopening right here, so be sure to check.

On behalf of the team we wish you a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! Stay calm and sound!