A while back I was visiting the Durham Farmer’s Market and came across a cool store just up Foster Street called The Scrap Exchange. The store is a nonprofit creative reuse center who’s mission is to “promote creativity, environmental awareness, and community through reuse”. They collect industrial discards, craft materials, art supplies, vintage material, and other unique items and sell these reclaimed materials back to the public. The store serves the dual role of providing community members with access to hard-to-find, affordable materials for creative projects while at the same time recycling usable materials and preventing them from entering the waste stream. It is the perfect place to visit if you are working on a creative project and need materials or simply a dose of inspiration.
Inside you will find a wide variety of objects and materials for sale. They receive new items daily from individuals, businesses, industries, and municipal sources and sell them at 50-75% off their original retail price. Their stock is constantly changing, but a here is a short list of some of the things they usually have: boxes; bubble wrap and packing supplies; CDs and CD jewel case; cards and envelopes; cardboard cones and tubes; fabric; foam core board; glass and plastic bottles; labels; envelopes; and mailing supplies; laboratory equipment; stone and marble scraps; mylar; notebooks; folders; and office supplies; paper; picture frames and matboard; stickers; tile; wood and metal scraps.
They typically store most of the loose bulk items in large blue drums throughout the store and sell the items by the bag full. I found one drum filled with cardboard crowns from burger kings and another with thousands of buttons from the 2005 Raleigh Wide Open festival. There is also area of the store dedicated to specific kinds of items like old elctronics parts, and swatches of fabric. There is no telling what you will find on any given visit.
If you are looking for inspiration to get your creative juices flowing, check out The Scrap Exchange Artists’ Marketplace. It islocated at the front of the store and features products from local artists who are using reclaimed materials in their work. When I was there I saw a cool version of the Wall-E Disney movie character made out of recycled material (pictured above).
The Scrap Exchange also offers a variety of classes taught by local local artists. New classes are offered seasonally and cover topics like bookmaking, quilting, sewing, collage, and mosaics. For more inforamtion about the Scrap Exhange and their Spring 2011 class schedule you can visit their website or facebook fanpage.