Share Sheds and Free Stores

Share Sheds and Free Stores represent major community resources, especially for those living in low-income situations. Currently in Canada, more than 40% of those living in poverty are also legally disabled. So, how can we design share sheds and free stores with this in mind? It only takes some small tweaks, and a slight tilt to your perspective, for these spaces to become accessible and welcoming for those with a wide range of capabilities and challenges.

Looking for tailored considerations and solutions for your community? I'm excited to help you! Let's chat:


  • Design signage using words and simple graphics, and basic colour coding systems to serve a wide range of processing and literacy needs.
    • Ie. Green for "go ahead," red for, "stop."
    • Example 1: here.
    • Example 2: here.
    • Example 3: here.
  • Limit light reflecting surfaces, like glass shelves and cabinets.
  • Consider organizing donations / drop-offs as follows:
    • Separate books with small print vs. large print.
    • Separate clothing by fastener type.
      • Shirts with buttons separate from t-shirts.
      • Shoes with velcro, or slip-ons separate from those with string ties.
      • Pants with elastic waists separate from those with zipper or button flies.
  • Provide carts for people with limited mobility or range of motion to move items from their vehicles to drop-off areas.
    • Or even better, set up a drive-up drop-off area, where people can park close and receive assistance with items.
  • Install handrails along ramps and steps, regardless of how small or manageable they seem to you.
  • Install non-slip flooring, or non-slip mats along walkways.
  • Utilize warm coloured LED lighting rather than fluorescent or cool-coloured lighting.
  • Install a dimmer switch for lighting where possible.
  • Implement a "quiet hour" for people with sensory challenges or hearing impairments to browse more comfortably.
  • If your staff or volunteers play music during operating hours, consider providing them with sensory-friendly playlists:
  • Utilize 2-way radios between staff to reduce the need for yelling and raised voices.
  • If your format is mobile, or has a mobile component, consider partnering with a low-income housing, co-op organization, group or seniors home to provide drop-offs and pick-ups at regular intervals.
    • Some food banks and grocery stores utilize this model for excess food and donations, feel free to contact me for info and references!

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