Derrick J. Freeman and Steven Zeiler founded what they claim is the first crypto-only brick and mortar retail establishment in the US, the Free State Bitcoin Shoppe. Visitors pay for merchandise with cryptocurrencies like bitcoin. If they don’t have cryptocurrency, the store clerk helps them download and fund their first wallet. They checkout using an Ipad in a Square stand running New Hampshire-based free point-of-sale software Anypay. News.Bitcoin.com caught up with Mr. Freeman for an exclusive interview.
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Bitcoin Shoppe is Crypto-Only
Portsmouth, New Hampshire hasn’t been widely thought to be a hotbed of crypto activity. It just might be, and it probably has something to do with the Free State Project (FSP). Yale doctoral student Jason Sorens basically wrote about a secessionist movement of the most personal sort. It wound up evolving into asking 20,000 freedom-loving people to build a political force in the state of New Hampshire, the “Live Free or Die” state. “A large portion of the people who moved to New Hampshire in search of freedom are bitcoin users,” Derrick J. Freeman explained. “That’s because they know about the Federal Reserve. Once you know about that, and you know there’s an alternative, it’s pretty hard to reconcile your personal responsibility for its perpetuation.”
Mr. Freeman, a well-known figure in the FSP, continues, “Cryptocurrencies affords us the opportunity to not just withdraw our support for values we detest, but to actively support coins whose communities actively embrace certain values we share. It’s amazing, and anyone not yet benefiting from participation in these communities is missing out.”
Founded in the Summer of last year, the Free State Bitcoin Shoppe is open seven days a week. Though it’s obviously a profit-making enterprise, Mr. Freeman notes it also serves as an educational platform. “The number one thing we sell is the ‘Bitcoin 101’ class at the Blockchain Institute where people learn how to get a bitcoin wallet, how to send and receive bitcoin, and how to backup their money safely. We also sell bitcoin watches, bitcoin mugs, bitcoin pint glasses, hardware wallets, bitcoin t-shirts, bitcoin socks, bitcoin books, silver rounds, dvds, enigma machines, books about programming and economics.”
The importance of having a real-world, flesh and blood place where the curious can come and ask questions, take a test spin in this new space, is badly needed, Mr. Freeman urges. “They’ve all heard about it from the news, or a friend, coworker, or family member, and they’re curious. They want to know, ‘Is this thing real? Like, are people actually using it?’ And we get the pleasure of pointing them to our huge map on the wall with flags sticking out at every one of 22 locations that currently accept bitcoin in this town of 22,000. We designed and printed pamphlets that we encourage people to take from a box on our front door. It explains how to get a wallet (of course we recommend Bitcoin.com wallet right at the top), and a map of the World Famous Bitcoin Tour of Portsmouth (http://WorldFamousBitcoinTour.com).”
An Eager Bitcoin Evangelist
As an activist and content producer in the liberty world, Mr. Freeman received a tip in bitcoin after hosting a popular radio program, Free Talk Live. It was his introduction to the rabbit hole that is crypto. “I loved this new kind of money,” he stresses. “I loved that it was a digital balance on my screen. I liked that I had a record of all the transactions in the network. I liked that it ran like a bittorrent on my computer — always updating the ledger with all the other nodes on the network. I liked that I could participate in mining by buying some equipment and configuring it to join the network of miners. I liked that this new kind of money was being circulated among my friends. I liked that it afforded me the opportunity to use a money that wasn’t created and controlled by the Federal Reserve. I like that it empowers people like me to opt for a more peaceful world by withdrawing support for empire-building and endless wars.”
News.Bitcoin.com asked how the immediate community has received the Shoppe. “They love it. We’ve became fast friends with dozens of businesses who we’ve helped accept cryptocurrency. We’ve sponsored local theater on multiple occasions as patrons of the arts. One of our neighboring shoppes and one of Portsmouth’s most beloved stores, Pickwick’s Mercantile, gave us the idea to coin Portsmouth as ‘Bitcoin Village.’ We regularly host popular meetups where people come to level up their bitcoin knowledge and grow the network of bitcoin users and businesses. Even the local government has been warm and welcoming: a city councillor was one of our earliest customers, the police have politely checked in when they saw us moving store furniture at night, and just yesterday the parking enforcer popped into the Shoppe to let me know I’d forgotten to put my ticket on the dash. It’s that kind of quaint New England town. We love our neighbors and aim to make them proud,” Mr. Freeman responded eagerly.
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Images via Pixabay, the Free State Bitcoin Shoppe.