Some cool customers came in today and recommended we check out this cool stuff. Maybe you’ll like it too. One young woman recommended some documentaries. Another guy came in and told me about his crypto fund.
Several new people attended this meetup — including a local business owner looking to accept bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies at his stores and a teenager who receives bitcoin for his allowance! The food at this Himalayan restaurant was SPICY and they accommodated our large group with a smile. We were disappointed that they didn’t take our crypto, though, since they had indicated a few days before that they would. We were left figuring out a large bill instead of split checks and we had to handle it with cash and multiple cards, but ultimately we figured out the best way to do it — one guy paid on his credit card and everyone paid him in either FRNs, bitcoin, or dash! So some of us did actually get to pay in crypto, and he made out pretty well for acquiring these currencies with no fees!
This meetup was incredible! A few guests came from out of the country to attend: one from Maine and two from Rhode Island. We talked about what to do with Bitcoin Cash (ahem, “Bitcoin Trash”), what wallets people are using to claim it, what exchanges to use to turn it into something useful (ahem, Dash, Ethereum, Monero — some people even still like Bitcoin). Dinner was great — nice and slow with lots of time to talk and meet different people. The service was excellent, of course, as to be expected at a great restaurant like Martingale Wharf. The staff was extraordinarily accommodating for our large (and growing) group. We started outside on the deck with some drinks, and then had appetizers and dinner inside with the large windows open, facing the water. Totally great.
Conversation topics included the Free State Bitcoin Shoppe, organizing meetups in other locations, ways to help businesses like Martingale Wharf take cryptocurrency, beginner stuff like downloading a wallet, expert stuff like multisig addresses and xpub keys, and lots more.
Afterward, some of us went over to the Shoppe and showed off the latest art. Everyone had a great time, and conversations lasted way longer than we could stay and eat. Here are a few pictures from the event:
Yesterday’s meetup went from good to great. A few of us got together at Lazy Jack’s and had drinks and a light lunch on the decks. One of the attendees set up his first bitcoin wallet. I sent him a dollar so he could see how it works. One person who was new to bitcoin this month noticed when he opened his wallet that the value of his bitcoin had increased by 15%. He was pleasantly surprised. They were relatively new and asked a lot of great questions:
“What gives it value?” “What makes you feel secure using it?” “Can’t the government or some bad guy shut the whole system down?” “How do you turn it back into dollars?” “Where can I spend bitcoin?” “Why not just invest in gold or silver?”
Halfway through the meetup, I got a phone call — it was my friend Jim Babb from Philadelphia! He’s into bitcoin, and I even bought 3D printed magnets from his daughters for bitcoin years ago! I told him to come down to the meetup! Afterwards, some of us went over to Free State Bitcoin Shoppe and used bitcoin to buy a singularity t-shirt, an ethereum book, a Somalia postcard, and laser-cut wooden souvenirs.
Next meetup is 3-4p Sunday Aug 20 at Martingale Wharf. See you there!
Can you give me the rundown on your shop?
Derrick J: Free State Bitcoin Shoppe is a place for people to level up on their cryptocurrency knowledge and trade their digital cash for unique tech and freedom-themed souvenirs. Our mission is to help people use better money.
To a backdrop of dance-punk and electronic music, we offer one-on-one assistance to the bit-curious to help spread the crypto-economy in New Hampshire. It’s packed with seditious propaganda like libertarian art and literature, books on programming, and freedom tech like hardware wallets and USB thumb drives with TAILS Linux loaded on them (the operating system Edward Snowden uses to protect
his privacy online).
When we’re not busy teaching tourists and passers by about Bitcoin, the shoppe is an office for [co-owner] Zyler and me: where we do coding, writing, and video production. The Shoppe is right on the edge of New Hampshire at 56 State St in Portsmouth — so close that both the water and Maine’s coast are visible from our front door.
What do you sell at the shop? Is there specific merchandise you hope to add?
Derrick J: We sell things you won’t find anywhere else: Doge curtains and pillows, 3D-printed combination locks to protect USB keys, Tesla T-Shirts, laser-cut wood boxes with secret compartments, BipCot Licenses, Bitcoin clocks, an Aztec calendar, build-it-yourself 3D-printer kits, and various New Hampshire-themed gifts. Next week, a unique Bitcoin vending machine will arrive at our store, offering the opportunity for people to trade in their Federal Reserve Notes for Bitcoin, Dash, and Monero.
Besides Bitcoin, what forms of payment do you accept?
Derrick J: Monero is preferred. We take all forms of cryptocurrency and offer 20% if you pay for the merchandise with that currency. Yesterday, a customer bought $85 of doge-themed merchandise with Doge-coin.
We don’t take Federal Reserve Notes, credit cards, or metals. (Sorry, silver bugs. Time to realize the silver thing is never going to happen.)
Since the value of Bitcoin fluctuates, how do you set the prices?
Derrick J: It’s easy. We set prices in Bitcoin. The bitcoin wallet on your phone will convert instantly so you can see how much things cost in terms of dollars or any other currency.
How did you choose the location for your shop?
Derrick J: We had been scouting locations for a retail shop for a month or two. While walking downtown in the Portsmouth Pride Parade this June, we passed some empty windows where a small boutique had been.
We said “This would be perfect!!” It’s 100 feet from the biggest park in town, where musical theater and concerts play daily and nightly, visible by the water, plenty of parking across the street, and adorable tourist-trap stores nearby that attract lots of foot traffic from international guests. It’s one of the busiest corners in one of the wealthiest and most happening places in the Shire. It’s the perfect location to draw in people to learn about Bitcoin.
You have long been a liberty activist. You have committed acts of civil disobedience (Derrick J’s Victimless Crime Spree), challenged unjust laws in court, and even spent some time in jail. Does this shop mark a shift in tactics for gaining individual freedom?
Derrick J: Yes, totally. I’ve learned through trial and error what works and what doesn’t.
Civil disobedience may be moral and make me feel good, but it is ineffective at achieving more freedom unless others participate en masse. Good luck with that — most people aren’t courageous enough to take any risks and would prefer comfortable slavery to dangerous freedom.
Instead, I am taking the entrepreneurial route: offering political art and freedom-enhancing tools in exchange for cryptocurrency. The mission isn’t as much to “make money selling merchandise” as it is to grow the value of my cryptocurrency holdings by growing the network. As more and more people use bitcoin, the value of the crypto-economy grows, and the power of the central banks shrinks.
This is the best way I’ve discovered to empower myself and others, by taking a small, low-risk baby step toward more financial independence (which is the most important type).
Do you consider Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies the best hope for freeing individuals from the unjust power of the state?
Derrick J: Oh, lord no. Philosophy is the best hope for freeing individuals from the power of the state, because the power and the state only exists in their heads. Without philosophy, people are doomed to continue on whatever path their ancestors’ trajectory put them on.
Fortunately for New Englanders, our ancestors placed us on a slow vector toward ever-increasing respect for property rights, which continues today (in New Hampshire especially).
Bitcoin is packed with philosophy, whether users are aware of it or not. Bitcoin empowers the individual with privacy over their money (if they want it), reduces the power of international central banking cartels with every dollar that exits into the crypto-economy, and ultimately helps end wars as people quickly become accustomed to a deflationary currency (rather than the inflationary currencies used to finance the wars of the 20th century).
Do you have any advice for people who want to be free, but feel it is impossible? What can people do to free themselves in your opinion?
Derrick J: Read books that inspire you. Fill your brain with ideas that energize you. Pursue happiness through a virtuous life. Challenge yourself. No matter my current situation, behind bars or on a deserted island, my journey to freedom has been one of personal growth.
So far, what is your favorite part of running the shop?
Derrick J: My favorite part of running the shop is seeing libertarians walk in and watching their faces light up as they realize what the store is. They see Ayn Rand, Ron Paul, and Ludvig Von Mises, a Bitcoin symbol, Gandhi, Thomas Jefferson, and “Live Free Or Die” signs plastered everywhere, and they all say some variation of “I’ve never seen a store like this before!”
Those interactions make my day.
Last night’s bitcoin meetup was awesome. There were 12 people — the largest one yet! All different ages, backgrounds, and experience levels. There were a lot of Free Staters at this one — they were in town visiting the Bitcoin Shoppe and stayed to attend the meetup afterwards.
Some conversation topics included: “What are blockchains?” “What are miners?” “Who are nodes?” “What’s a masternode?” “Who decides who the nodes and miners are? Are they voted in?” “How do hardware wallets work?” “Is it more worth it to mine coins or just buy and hold?” “What’s the difference between Bitcoin and Ethereum?” “What’s the difference between Ethereum and Dash?” “What’s the difference between Dash and Bitcoin?” “How do you start mining, and what coins are worth mining?” “How do you set up a trading account to trade between bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies?” “How did you get into Bitcoin/Ethereum?”
Lots of conversation! And those were just the questions I heard on my side of the table. Because it was a lot of people and a large table, there were multiple conversations being carried on at once, rather than the typical meetup which has one continuous conversation with one person talking at a time. This was different.
The service was excellent, by the way. Our server came around at all perfect times for drinks, apps, main course, refills, answered questions, and at the end, was able to split the checks in any combination we asked for, instantly. She was terrific, I wish I could remember her name to pass the praise along. Kate, I think. Anyway, it was my first time at the Oar House, and usually during a meetup I like to talk to the manager or owner about accepting bitcoin, but this meetup didn’t lend itself to that since conversation was already challenging at our own table. The volume of the restaurant was pretty loud. I think it’s better to have those conversations with owners one-on-one or with a small group.