Do people just donate all this stuff?
We don’t like to call them donations, we’re not a non-profit. We offer purchase credit to everyone that brings stuff to us. Some choose not to take any. Either way, we appreciate any and all drop-offs, and make every effort to organize and display them beautifully so that they are appealing to makers, and ultimately serve a new purpose.
So, if I bring in stuff, can I trade it for something else?
We wouldn’t be able to stay open if we did even trades. Like many resale stores, we offer purchase credit that you can put towards anything you decide to get from the shop that is approximately 25% of the average rate that it will sell for. It just takes us a few minutes to go through your things and tell you the amount. We can either write you up a ticket to be used at a later time, or you can put it towards your same-day purchases.
There are exceptions! We are flexible. If you bring a bunch of stuff,and don’t want to go through the purchase credit process when you just need a spool of thread or something else small that day, there is a good chance that it’s going to be fine for you to just take that item for free.
I want to drop-off something that is not on your Wish-list, but I think someone crafty can use. How do I proceed?
If what you have is not on the Wish-list, but also not on the “stuff we don’t need” section of the list, it never hurts to email or send us a message on our Facebook page about it. Some things we don’t have on our list just because we don’t have room for them in bulk amounts. Sometimes materials are out there that we just don’t know exist yet, and might be something we think crafters will find useful. There is also stuff that used to be on the list, but has fallen out of favor as upcycling trends evolve. Sometimes, we may not be able to take it at the shop, but can mention the item to a private network of local crafters to see if any of them could use it, then give interested parties your contact info.
Can I buy all the bin fulls I want? Or buy all your jewelry making supplies?
In order to offer a fair shopping experience for everyone, we reserve the right to limit your daily purchase. (This rule is also good for preventing people from overwhelming themselves with too many new projects at one time.) Purchases are limited to one load/ what you can carry on your own (plus oversized items)/ per day.
Take just what you need We are an art and craft community, after all.
This pay-as-you-wish thing makes me nervous! I’m worried I’ll come up with an amount that is too much or too little.
Have no fear, we do not mean for this to be cryptic. If you want some help when you check out, just ask. It’s not necessary to think through pricing every item in your basket, unless you want to. What would you FEEL GOOD about paying for everything you have all together? Not exorbitant retail prices, not garage sale sticker prices. Find the middle ground. We bet you’ll come up with around the same amount as our other customers would. If you go WAY over or WAY under what other customers pay, yes, we will reiterate the suggested range. We understand that this concept takes some getting used to, and your background and relative shopping experience up to this point will come into play, so it’s no big deal at all.
Pay-as-you-wish? No outside funding? How in the world do you cover your overhead?
We have great, new people discovering us daily! Even though we are pay-as-you-wish, there are some unspoken, common sense limits. In the very, very rare situation that someone may obviously be taking advantage of us (buying bulk amounts for resale, or offering to pay VERY little for obviously valuable items.) we simply decline to do business with them.
Do you have classes or events at the shop?
Not at this time but we hope to in the future. Please let us know if you have a suggestion for a class.
Whose idea was this, and how did they come up with it?
Dissatisfied with options that her and her fellow crafters had to obtain second-hand supplies, Autumn Wiggins, a web developer by trade, decided to create a construct to collect and distribute materials with an emphasis on using technology to compile data about what materials makers were looking for exactly. She used this data to create a concise wish-list, which was published and promoted on the web. Initially, the public was invited to bring these materials to local indie craft shows, where Autumn would set up a space to sort so that the show participants could choose from them after the event ended. Anyone who dropped stuff off would get a coupon that they could redeem with those crafters during the show for discounts and freebies. This was where the “Exchange” part of our name came from.
Eventually, after a couple years of experimenting with permanent drop-off locations and storage locations where crafters could pick up things, Autumn was decidedly putting in way too much work and collecting way too much stuff to keep the project private and penniless. When pondering options for how to proceed, being a non-profit was ruled out. Her goal was to build a nimble, low-overhead operation without need for outside funding or volunteers that she could have complete creative control over. She created a boutique feel for the space, vast without overwhelming the senses; precisely organized and curated. Every nook and cranny was pre-planned with Ikea storage fixtures in Google Sketch-up.
One of the gripes that Autumn had previously with reuse centers was their pricing structures. Flat-rate volume and weight pricing rarely seem to match the perceived value of items. In some cases, it even leads to getting more than you need, just to get the most for your money. On the other hand, processing and individually pricing large volumes of incoming materials would be incredibly time-consuming. Having heard of “pay-as-you-like” restaurants , she thought that it might be a solution for Upcycle for a few reasons. For one thing, crafters are an honest bunch. They also know what supplies normally cost, and that big-box craft stores tend to grossly overprice, while thrift stores and garage sales tend to steeply under-price. She could thrive on the middle ground, and posited that people would be more inclined to pay fairly, rather than bottom dollar, if she worked hard to making their shopping experience exceedingly pleasant.
I want to open an Upcycle Exchange in my town! How do I do that?
First, you’ll want to visit upcycleexchange.com and check that there are no other upcycle exchanges within 100 miles of you. If you are all-clear on that, go on to read further instructions by clicking “Open Source Business Model” on the page menu at the top!