Our Administrator Maggi Peachey recently visited England for vacation and was thrilled to find and visit four different Creative Reuse Centers (Scrapstores as they’re called there) during her trip. Here is more about her visit to each one and some of the programs they offer to help reduce creative materials from ending up in landfills.
1. Gloucester Resource Centre and Scrapstore:
Beth Hill, CEO, of Gloucester Resource Centre was kind enough to give me a tour of their Centre. They carry an array of new wholesale essentials to help complete project supplies like paint, glues, wool, brushes, etc. Around the corner you can find seasonal items and the most desired types of items like fabric, yarn, and paper crafts. The small volunteer processing area looked very familiar to me with its chaos and stacks of bins. Going further into the Centre it opens up to a large warehouse space with bulk donations from area businesses. These items were mainly sold by weight. My favorite finds here were hexagon boxes from Lush and wooden disks that were the remnants from a speaker manufacturer. I was floored to know that the 130+ year old building that used to be a clothing factory is owned 100% by the organization and they are able to lease small offices upstairs to other charitable organizations to help cover operating costs. Another room across the entryway was filled with friendly faces all crafting during their Creative Welcome Space time while drinking tea. The level of creativity of others never ceases to amaze me. Everyone seemed to be having a great time. Other services this Centre is able to offer is a conference room for rent, an art studio, and an upstairs dance studio. What an amazing space.
2. Wiltshire Resource Scrapstore and Barty’s Little Eco Shop:
I met with Glynis Cosgrave, Assistant Director, of the Wiltshire Resource Scrapstore for a tour of their Resource Centre. As you walk in there is a cafe to your right where you can enjoy a hot beverage and panini. The bulk area was floor to ceiling full of bolts of fabric (sold by the meter), plastic containers with lids, scrap leather, school supplies, and much more. Near the front of the shop and by the cafe you will find a huge variety of craft kits with the most popular being “Spoon Friend” kits that use a spoon as a base for fun characters of all sorts and for every occasion and holiday. I was lucky enough to go behind the scenes with Glynis to see how volunteers collect, die cut, and piece together all of these kits. It was a well oiled machine that has taken years to perfect. Beyond this area was a workshop space where attendees were making adorable mini Christmas wreaths. I was fortunate enough to speak to some of the volunteers as they took a break in the cafe. Some have been volunteering for well over 10 years! They keep coming back because it’s something to do, it’s good for their wellbeing, and it’s also fun to interact with the community.
I was encouraged to visit their supplemental store Barty’s Little Eco Shop down the road in the village of Lacock. Here you can find some goods made by volunteers using materials from their Scrapstore as well as an assortment of other sustainable gifts. My favorite purchases were little bear patches and small handmade coin purses made by a volunteer that specializes in leather crafts.
3. Swindon Scrapstore Reuse Centre:
The Swindon Scrapstore Reuse Center was divided into three different areas in a warehouse setting. As you first walk in you will see a huge variety of new/never used items like children’s books, holiday decor, household items, clothing, games, and toys. They were all fairly priced and from what I gather are closeout items from retailers. The next section was more like a thrift store and contained donated creative reuse materials like carpet samples, toys, books, DVDs, office supplies, and house paint. The third section contained brand new art supplies like paints, paper crafts, and ribbon. My favorite find here was a new snuggie-like pull-over that has nothing to do with crafts but it was a good deal and is so cozy. I spoke with one very busy volunteer who informed me that they have arrangements with businesses that liquidate or update their branding and donate remaining stock to them and that they are also required to price the new art supplies below suggested retail since they are a charity.
4. The ArtShop at Children’s Scrapstore in Bristol:
The ArtShop at Children’s Scrapstore in Bristol also carries a wide variety of new art supplies and in a different section has bulk materials where members can fill a basket or trolley and pay a flat price. This location, like a few of the others, were highly focused on children crafts, education, and play. I was told by staff that this was the biggest Scrapstore in the area which is hard to tell since they all had an incredible amount of space to work in compared to our Center for Creative Reuse. There was a children’s play area and other charities/programs within the building that I did not have a chance to explore. My favorite find here was a small sketchbook with an art deco cover.
All in all it was great to see many of the similarities between these Scrapstores and our Center for Creative Reuse in San Antonio, Texas. I talked to team members and volunteers and we have so much in common and I felt right at home at each location. They have all been running strong for several years so that gives me hope that there is a continued need for the work Spare Parts does. I have also been filled with many new ideas for programs and events that I hope may come to fruition in the near future.
Thank you for reading about my journey.
Administrator for Spare Parts