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.
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.”
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.