Greensboro’s Reconsidered Goods Saves Artists Money while Saving the Environment
At first glance, Reconsidered Goods on Patterson Street could be mistaken for an oddly welcoming thrift store, but a closer look will reveal there’s something different about the place. Unlike most thrift stores, there are no clothes for sale. The mismatched couches aren’t up for grabs, either; they’re for guests to sit on while they finish a knitting project or flip through a magazine. Art is everywhere, along with tons of art supplies. Deep buckets of beads and colored pencils lie like lakes at the edges of mountains made of fabric, yarn and wood scraps.
Reconsidered Goods is more than a shop: it’s a nonprofit creative reuse center. Creative reuse centers teach people how to, well, creatively reuse unwanted items. Everything in Reconsidered Goods was donated to the shop in the hopes that someone could use it again, either by itself or as part of a larger project.
“It’s all about reducing what goes into the landfills. That’s our main mission,” said Reconsidered Goods’ Director Paige Cox.
Reconsidered Goods is just one of 42 creative reuse centers in the whole country, but that number is slowly growing. Cox was inspired to start a Greensboro center after her visits to the Scrap Exchange, the creative reuse center in Durham. She attended a Scrap Exchange boot camp and learned how to put their plan into action in her area.
A SPARK grant from Action Greensboro allowed Cox to hold a series of free pop-up maker spaces to show people what a creative reuse center did. From there, Cox held an advisory meeting to connect her with interested parties in the Triad. Two of those interested parties ended up being her co-founders, Martha Hughes-James and Joseph Edwards.
The three opened Reconsidered Goods on Oct. 1 of last year, and it has been expanding its inventory and its community outreach ever since.
“We’re still figuring things out day to day and adding to our programming,” said Hughes-James.
Programs help Reconsidered Goods extend its mission beyond the shop and into the Greensboro area. Many are educational outreach programs meant to teach kids about the value of recycling. To that end, Reconsidered Goods hosts workshops, birthday parties, and field trips to their Make and Take area.
Make and Take is the successor of Cox’s original pop-up space. It’s a place where visitors can craft anything their hearts desire from bins of craft supplies and odd parts. As the name suggests, guests can take their art with them when they leave, but Cox says school groups are encouraged to give their creations back to the center as a way of learning about reuse.
“We only use tape because we want to teach kids to take it back apart when they’re done and recycle what they can,” said Cox.
The Make and Take area is mostly used by school groups, but plenty of adults use it, and the rest of the center, for inspiration. According to local sculptor Mike Potter, Reconsidered Goods is an artist’s playground.
“Hands down, this is the best and most useful store in Greensboro,” said Potter. “There’s no other place like this. I normally would have to scrounge around for months to find what I can find here in a week. For a person like me, this place is priceless.”
Reconsidered Goods also holds classes so that artists and crafters of all skill levels can try their hands at new techniques using items from the shop. Wednesday nights are Make It nights, in which groups tackle Pinterest-inspired crafts from wall art to poetry to leather work. Cox and the other founders are always evolving their ideas for classes and creative programs based on what gets donated.
“Inventory changes, so we’re constantly reinventing what we’re doing because we never know what’s going to come through the door,” said Cox.
In 2017, Cox wants to establish more ties with local manufacturers to get large quantities of craft items. This will help Reconsidered Goods keep a regular core inventory while also keeping costs down.
“When we get a lot of the same thing, we can keep prices really low,” Cox explained. “Right now we’re selling two pieces of map board for 25 cents, which is incredibly cheap. Teachers are loving it, artists are loving it, so that’s one thing I want to do more of.”
As Reconsidered Goods approaches its first birthday, its co-founders hope people in the Triad will come to see the center as more than just a store.
“We like to nurture and make a place for people to create,” said Cox. “We pull from the community and it’s going back into the community, so we want everybody to feel ownership of this place.”
Reconsidered Goods is open for volunteers and donations of reusable items and art supplies. For a list of accepted donations and more information, visit www.reconsideredgoods.org.