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Our nation is often times known as a throwaway nation, but as the old saying goes, ‚ÄúOne man‚Äôs junk is another man‚Äôs treasure.‚ÄĚ
Resource Warehouse & Gallery isn‚Äôt your grandma‚Äôs traditional resale shop. Eddie Broussard explains why.
Broussard serves on the board of directors for ReSource and Safe Harbor Rescue Mission.
‚ÄúAbout two years ago, we started to look for a social enterprise for two reasons,‚ÄĚ he said. ‚ÄúPrimarily, to provide job skills and career experience for Safe Harbor Rescue Mission participants. Secondarily, we wanted something that would bring revenue back to Safe Harbor to offset a portion of the expenses.‚ÄĚ
Safe Harbor is a faith-based non-profit organization that works with women who need hope and a hand-up. It provides a one-year residential life restoration program, and it also functions as a day shelter for homeless women and children.
‚ÄúWe didn‚Äôt want a traditional re-sale shop,‚ÄĚ Broussard said. ‚ÄúWe did not want to compete with the re-sale shops in the area that support wonderful organizations.‚ÄĚ
Broussard and Debbie Haynes, executive director of Safe Harbor, visited the Scrap Exchange in Durham to talk about social enterprise. They learned that the business just celebrated its 20th anniversary, and that the business is very successful.
‚ÄúScrap Exchange is a big warehouse full of junk, and people were in and out all day long,‚ÄĚ Broussard said. ‚ÄúYes, junk, but ...‚ÄĚ
Broussard said a class of children was doing a study on re-use and green living, there were birthday parties and ‚Äúpeople everywhere.‚ÄĚ
‚ÄúFive minutes into it, I realized what was going on,‚ÄĚ he said. ‚ÄúThe Scrap Exchange is a creative re-use center, and now we [ReSource] are one as well.‚ÄĚ
Creative re-use takes things in that are used to make something else. Broussard said there are only 45 in the nation and three in North Carolina. ReSource is one of those three.
To fulfill its mission, Resource Warehouse & Gallery will collect unwanted material resources and distribute them through its creative re-use center, which will include a retail store, Artists‚Äô Marketplace gallery, workshop space, party room, office space, and warehouse storage.
To that end, another aim of ReSource is revealed.
‚ÄúOur goal is to promote creativity, environmental awareness and community through re-use,‚ÄĚ Broussard said. ‚ÄúIf you can engage the art community and the education community, you got it made. Artists are looking for materials for their media. Teachers always look for affordable projects.‚ÄĚ
ReSource provides those materials at a very low cost.
‚ÄúThat‚Äôs the idea, and once we started development and research, we decided it‚Äôs unique to the county and wonderfully unique to be able to provide it,‚ÄĚ Broussard said. ‚ÄúIt‚Äôs the whole green thing ‚ÄĒ to divert from landfills.
‚ÄúOur goal is to re-use God‚Äôs creation wisely,‚ÄĚ he added. ‚ÄúWe put out the call in our [Safe Harbor] newsletter for an available building. We got a phone call not long after that.‚ÄĚ
ReSource opened its doors in June 2011 in a former manufacturing facility.
‚ÄúThis building was dormant, thrown away,‚ÄĚ Broussard said. ‚ÄúWe came in, made it new and it came to life. The art and education communities love it, and the general public loves it.‚ÄĚ
ReSource‚Äôs 13,000 square feet is divided into two main parts. The back of the building, the warehouse, is where donations are received, sorted and sold. The prices are kept low for a reason.
‚ÄúSell cheap, cheap,‚ÄĚ Broussard said. ‚ÄúWe want to move it out.‚ÄĚ
The space in the front of the building is a gallery to provide a place for the artists who use re-used materials to sell their work. The artists receive 65 percent of the sales, and Safe Harbor receives 35 percent.
‚ÄúThis is re-use,‚ÄĚ Broussard said. ‚ÄúFor example, this coffee table used to be a screen door.‚ÄĚ
More than 30 artists consigned work in the gallery, which is full of certainly unique items. Visitors to ReSource can spend an hour or more meandering through the aisles.
Organization is certainly the key. ReSource doesn‚Äôt want people to walk into the business to a big pile of junk, so sorting is key. Women from the Safe Harbor program are employed in the warehouse and in the gallery.
‚ÄúThe women own it, and this job goes on their resume,‚ÄĚ Broussard said. ‚ÄúIt gives them another start.‚ÄĚ
Broussard said it‚Äôs all beyond their dreams.
‚ÄúThere‚Äôs a creative place in all of us, and when you see what others make, a light goes off and you say, ‚Äėwhy, I can make that,‚Äô‚ÄĚ he said. ‚ÄúSo they see items in the gallery made by artists, and they go back into the warehouse and buy materials to take home and make something.‚ÄĚ
There‚Äôs also some cool vintage stuff that was donated and is for sale.
‚ÄúIt‚Äôs so cool,‚ÄĚ Broussard said with a laugh.
As of last week, ReSource has diverted 57, 739.44 pounds of ‚Äústuff‚ÄĚ from the landfill.
‚ÄúIt‚Äôs a mission,‚ÄĚ he said. ‚ÄúSome companies generate a lot of waste and don‚Äôt realize it. A company might ask who in the world wants this? We do.‚ÄĚ
Nancy Braswell manages the warehouse operation of ReSource, and she agrees that organization is critical.
‚ÄúI want people to be able to find what they‚Äôre looking for ‚ÄĒ presentation is everything,‚ÄĚ Braswell said. ‚ÄúMy job is really enjoyable and doesn‚Äôt seem like a task.‚ÄĚ
Braswell came to Safe Harbor in May 2010.
‚ÄúI came there after devastating circumstances in my life,‚ÄĚ she said. ‚ÄúI stayed one year and had counseling. They told me I could redeem my life. Everyday there was someone lifting me up and telling me I could start over ‚ÄĒ even at my age, 56.
‚ÄúI threw away my chances, but they kept telling me I am worth something,‚ÄĚ she said. ‚ÄúGod redeemed what was broken, and I‚Äôve been blessed and am so thankful.‚ÄĚ
Broussard said, ‚ÄúWe‚Äôre faith-based, and this is God‚Äôs story ‚ÄĒ to redeem what was once broken.‚ÄĚ
Three county parishes ‚ÄĒ Church of the Ascension, St. Alban‚Äôs Episcopal Church and Episcopal Church of the Epiphany ‚ÄĒ worked together to provide resources to Safe Harbor.
‚ÄúThe $15,000 grant from the Episcopal Diocese of Western North Carolina provided the seed money to start ReSource,‚ÄĚ Broussard said. ‚ÄúDebbie (Haynes) said, ‚ÄúYou know, the taking of things thrown away, discarded by society, we make them new, and that‚Äôs really the story of Safe Harbor, and that‚Äôs our story.‚Äô
‚ÄúTo be around this and watch is a blessing,‚ÄĚ Broussard said.
What: ReSource Warehouse & Gallery.
Where: 451 11th St. N.W. in Hickory.
Hours: Tuesday-Saturday from 10 a.m.-5 p.m.
For information: Call 828-326-7233 or visit www.resourcewarehouse.org.