We discovered a gem in Pigtown recently, a nifty reusable craft store called SCRAP B-More. It should be the next stop for crafters who need an extra pine cone or a bag of bits and bobs.
In this West Barre Street storefront, there are wood pieces, crayons, clips, Mardi Gras beads, fabric, yarn, buttons and more.
“SCRAP B-More is a creative reuse center, we take donations of creative material and use them for creative purposes,” explains Nancy Hotchkiss, the center’s director.
The mission, she continues, is “to inspire creative reuse and environmentally sustainable behavior by providing educational programs and affordable materials to the community.”
How does that work? Well, the center’s premise is that shoppers often buy an excessive amount of art supplies. For example, a parent goes to Target and purchases pipe cleaners for his son’s art project. The young artist needs five, but the package holds 100. What happens to the other 95 pipe cleaners? Most likely they will end up in a junk drawer or family’s own collection of random art stuff.
Instead of making that purchase, a shopper could come to SCRAP B-More and buy exactly five pipe cleaners for about one-third of the price, Hotchkiss says.
“We are not talking to businesses yet. We are just getting started and we have about 19 tons of material,” she says.
In other words, there’s a lot here to sort through. Take your time.
Another beautiful thing is that SCRAP B-More is part of a networking nonprofit and there are other centers like it in places such as Virginia and Texas. The foundation started in Portland, Oregon 20 years ago, focusing on the reuse part of the “reduce, reuse and recycle” triangle. It’s similar to the clothing industry, which is seeing more consumers reusing their old clothes, adding some color or cutting up pieces to turn them into something new. Or they donate their clothes, which then find a new shelf life with different owners.
SCRAP B-More aims to be this as well as inspiring and kid-friendly.
“We have bins of all those kid-friendly craft items and we give you $5 or $10 size bag and kids can just dig through these buckets and bins and fill them,” Hotchkiss says.
While many places in Baltimore offer art classes, SCRAP B-More will not. “We don’t need to do a color-by-numbers or a paint night, those already exist,” Hotchkiss says.
Instead the center plans to have a different kind of craft nights, directed more toward a theme. It could be that staff pulls out all their different kinds of yarn and lets shoppers make yarn crafts, or staff brings all sorts of wood pieces to make structures.
“Here is a place [for crafters] to gather around and teach each other what they know on that topic for the evening,” she says. “SCRAP B-More is more than just a craft store. It is a place to support creativity in any capacity possible.”
It’s not about doing something perfectly, she says, “it’s about just doing something.”
For more information or to donate, visit scrapb-more.org.