The Scrap Exchange is back

By Julia Brooks
NCCU Staff Writer
the Durham VOICE

One of Durham’s favorites, The Scrap Exchange re-opened on Sept. 10 in its new location behind the Golden Belt Complex in East Durham.

The Scrap Exchange is a non-profit organization whose mission is to promote creativity, environmental awareness, and community through re-use.

People and businesses donate items and The Scrap Exchange arranges to pick up items from local businesses and manufacturers. These materials are then sold in the store for people to use in their creative projects. The store is now celebrating 20 years of re-use.

Cheri Bowers and Sandy Green help their daughters, Tea and Jaryn, with art projects in the workshop of the Scrap Exchange. (Staff photo by Julia Brooks)

The store was previously located at the Liberty Warehouse, across from the Durham Farmer’s Market, but on May 14, part of the warehouse’s roof fell in after a big thunderstorm. The warehouse was later condemned, forcing The Scrap Exchange to relocate.

Although the new store may seem the same, the new space allows the store to expand in important ways.

“We have three times as much space,” said assistant store manager Nicole Hagan. “We moved from an 8,000 square foot building and now we have a 22,000 square foot building. Now we’re able to store three times as much material for our customers.”

The larger space has also allowed for new work areas for customers. For instance, a design studio is stacked with supplies for people to sew and do other crafts. There is also a workshop area where customers can do wood construction. The store even plans to host bigger events, such as live events and beer festivals.

Customers are feeling good about the Scrap Exchange’s new location. “They have a lot of more room, better lighting, and better parking,” said Andrea Stevens.

Carla Young has been shopping at the store for ten years. She also started bringing her children there and to the festivals. “I love this place,” she said.

“Being in Northeast Central Durham is a whole other world. We really like it and are excited to be in this building,” said Executive Director Ann Woodward.  “And we’re excited to be expanding our operation.”

The store’s assistant manager Nicole Hagan and sales associate Cusita Martinez help customer Andrea Stevens at checkout. (Staff photo by Julia Brooks)

The Scrap Exchange is pulling artists in. The new location, at the back of the Golden Belt Complex, lies within walking distance of Golden Belt’s 35 artist studios which helps encourage artists to use reusable items.

Despite all the positive changes the new location brings, managers still have concerns. Visibility is one. Since the store is at the back of the Golden Belt Complex, people can’t see it from the road.

Another constant concern is funding. As a community service/non-profit, the store needs assistance for its day-to-day operating expenses.

The Scrap Exchange provides different items, such as school and art supplies, artwork that you can buy, and household items.

“It is very economical. It sells products that are made locally. You’re purchasing material that has been kept from landfill,” said Woodward. “When you reuse, you feed people, build houses, provide transportation, and clothe people.”