Have you heard of creative reuse centers? They're essentially spots designed to, well, get reused materials back into circulation for creative projects. I like to think of them as secondhand art and craft supply stores, but they often have much more than that: odds and ends from around the home, school supplies, tools, esoteric supplies for makers of all stripes. Though many regular thrift stores offer a small selection of craft supplies and other tools, having a whole space dedicated to solely that means you're more likely to find what you're looking for.
The first time I visited one was a few years back, a stop by The WasteShed, a creative reuse center here in Chicago. Browsing inexpensive, secondhand craft supplies was a joy: everything was affordable, there was so much choice, and best of all I could pick up things that normally I would hesitate before buying. Birthday card in a plastic sleeve? It was secondhand, so into my basket it went.
Since then, I've visited a couple in other cities, as well. I took these photographs back in September, when I stumbled up on the East Bay Depot for Creative Reuse in Oakland while walking to lunch. I wasn't in the market for anything specific, but couldn't resist ducking in for a browse. They had books, paper, picture frames, pottery, magazines, fabric, knitting tools, art supplies, and so much more: all secondhand, all priced accordingly.
Good things to pick up at a store like this: poster board for a school project, a new-to-you pencil sharpener, some basic tools for a new hobby you want to try but aren't sure you'll stick to, craft supplies for kids, basic supplies like tape, scissors, and filing folders, and more. I've purchased things ranging from an embroidery kit to a small print for a friend to a spool of thread and more.
Here are just a few of the spots located in the United States:
-Scrap PDX in Portland, Oregon
-The Scrap Exchange in Durham, North Carolina
-Pittsburgh Center for Creative Reuse in Pittsburgh
-The WasteShed in Chicago
-East Bay Depot for Creative Reuse in Oakland, California
This list may tell you if there's a store near you, or you can do some searching around using the terms "creative reuse" and "secondhand art / craft / school supplies." Do you live near one? Ever picked up anything good at yours?