In Part 1 of this article, we talked about creative reuse centers- what they are, how they’re useful and how to find them. If there isn’t a creative reuse center near your town, that means there’s an opportunity to start one!
If you want to take creative reuse to the next level as a business, here’s some tips for an upstart ecopreneur wanting to open a reuse center in their community:
Location, location, location.
Central is good. Think of who will regularly come into your store- since your wares will be used by artists and educators, go where they go. You may find a space near another related store that gains you an automatic, built-in customer base, such as a thrift or party supply store.
Marketing and Outreach
Your unique and low-priced art and craft supplies already give you a selling point to start to build your community. The next step is striking the right chord with your engagement.
There’s tons of relevant ways to support local artists and teachers, like creating a special program designed for and catering just to them. It’s just like other the recycling drives mentioned in our Recycling Fundraising Guide, where advertising is essential to your success.
At the start of your program, display posters, and send press releases to local newspapers and radio and TV stations to let people know you’re out there.
Run announcements in weekly shopping circulars, and post flyers around town in local stores. Check with officials about special publications or presentations they might have developed about reuse and recycling. A lot of people get really into it!
TIP: Reach out to local organizations and ask them to donate their used items to you instead of throwing them out. The most successful organizations ask businesses or nonprofits to partner with them in their recycling efforts. Other groups use a lot of the same type of items that you’ll stock and are usually happy to have a way to recycle them.
This type of energy attracts like-minded folks in your community who in turn could volunteer their time.
Oversee your collection. It’s easy to get stuff- we’re already overwhelmed with it! Draw a fine line between being über choosy about what you’ll accept and taking on absolutely everything.
There’s enough extra stuff out there to fill truckloads, so one solid tip for donations is to specify that they are approved on site only, meaning no phone or email pre-approvals. Write your Donation Policy and include what you accept and what you do NOT accept.
Learn More and Volunteer
Look at what other creative reuse centers are doing around the country. There’s no need to reinvent the wheel when other viable models are in place. Return to Part 1 to find a list of other centers and visit their websites to get an idea of the creative adventure on which you’re embarking.
If the thought of owning and operating your own creative reuse center is a bit too daunting, volunteer your time at one instead- they can always use the help. Any and all efforts to reduce reuse and recycle are important, so thanks for reading and recycling!