Scrap Exchange escapes from a soggy mess into new space….twice.

By Teri Saylor

Scrap Exchange's new space at 923 Franklin Street

Scrap Exchange is finally getting some return on the good Karma it has invested in the Durham community.  After an epic moving odyssey,  the creative re-use facility, is finally settled into a new home, which in time, could be permanent.

“We’ve been through hell,” said Executive Director Ann Woodard, sitting in a tiny, crowded office next to the huge concrete and steel space that will soon be converted into a spacious environment housing a gallery, retail store, and workshops.  She allows that the experience worked in the organization’s favor after all, and after two moves in 10 days, The Scrap Exchange is back in business.  This last move, which took place over the Memorial Day weekend was the third relocation in 10 days. Its new home is at 923 Franklin Street in Durham.

A grand re-opening is scheduled Saturday, June 4 and will feature 10 bands over 12 hours. The $10 ticket fees will support the Scrap Exchange and the Liberty Arts Foundry, also displaced when the building that housed both organizations was condemned.  In case you missed how this all began, look here.

The Scrap Exchange was founded in 1991 to establish a sustainable supply of high-quality, low-cost materials for artists, educators, parents, and other creative people. Successful and popular, the Scrap Exchange is 90 percent self-sufficient through earned income streams, Woodard said.

Woodard loves her new space.

“Our mission is to provide services and low cost resources to our community. We’re in the perfect neighborhood to do that here,” she said.  Parking is convenient. Space is plentiful. The Scrap Exchange now occupies 22,000 square feet.  Its former space was 13,000. When it is completely built out, it will include additional workshop space dedicated to sewing classes.  There will be room for the organization’s eBay sales operation to stage goods for sale and package them up for shipping to buyers.  The Scrap Exchange will continue its retail sales operation to the public and will have an art gallery as well as an artists’ marketplace.

In the midst of displacement, Woodward has found a silver lining.  “We’ve been planning to move to a larger space for a long time,” she said. “We started looking in 2005 and 2006.  We made a 28-page increased capacity plan, and we are surprised that we’ve manifested our plan so quickly.”  With increased space comes a higher investment, and The Scrap Exchange will be paying $30,000 more annually.  She hopes that her organization can buy the building outright in the future.

It’s clear the space was once a manufacturing facility.  The wide open spaces with brick walls and concrete floors are flanked by small offices where superintendents and managers once worked.  Staff and volunteers are working nearly around the clock to be ready for business on Saturday.  “I’m not looking for perfection. I’m just looking to be open,” Woodward said.

Teri Saylor is a freelance writer and photographer in Raleigh. Follow her tweets @terisaylor or contact her by email.

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