by Chelsea Carnes
The Repurpose Project, a 501c3 junk shop and arts hub, has been so successful in its mission of helping folks rethink what they throw away, that the shop is running out of space.
Consider: when we purge our closets of old clothing, we don’t usually trash it – we donate to a thrift store. But where does one send old kitchen cabinets after a remodel? Old garden pots? Used crayons? There are few easy options for repurposing goods such as building materials, art supplies, metals, furniture, appliances, and fabrics.
Not everyone has time or enough stuff to organize a yard sale or deal with an online transaction through Craigslist or Marketplace, and items left for free on the roadside often succumb to the Florida rain before they find a new home.
The Repurpose Project has made a name for itself statewide and beyond by addressing this problem. Visitors can donate materials with ease in minutes, then park and browse the shop’s collection to get inspired and buy used. The organization focuses on the positive environmental impacts of buying used and sometimes hosts events to teach crafting and building skills to the public and raise awareness of the impact of wastefulness.
Like other businesses, The Repurpose Project closed for a time during the pandemic and then gradually reopened with caution. Business picked up quickly, and since February, the shop has recorded sales even higher than pre-2020.
Donations have increased too, and the already bursting store has begun to run out of space. No space means saying no to new donations, which usually dooms those materials to the landfill. The organization’s executive director, Sarah Goff, realized this spring that it was time to expand and scale up. “We need to build a better reuse system and we believe we are the visionaries and the hard workers to innovate a new reuse retail system to revolutionize a better way to manage resources,” she said.
On March 18, The Repurpose Project launched an ambitious fundraising campaign to raise nearly $200,000 in 60 days. All funds will go to the purchase of a second building, a two acre parcel with a 20,000 square foot commercial building on Waldo Road that will triple the organization’s ability to divert materials from the landfill, and create space for new green jobs and a scaled up circular economy that would put Gainesville on the map as a model reuse economy for the rest of the world.
The nonprofit has some savings, a pre-approved bank loan, and a contract, but needs $200,000 in donations and sales over the next 60 days to seal the deal.
In the first two weeks of the fundraiser, Repurpose has raised $75,000! The organization is seeking individual donors, corporate sponsorships, and match pledges. Donors can learn more or submit gifts at repurposeproject.org, through a gofundme: https://gofund.me/61546a7b or by visiting the shop at 1920 NE 23rd Ave.