The 757 Creative Reuse Center (or 757CRC for short) is a second hand craft store located at 1904 Granby St. Norfolk, VA 23517. They offer new and used arts and craft supplies at a discount in an effort to combat waste and promote sustainability in our community. They host idea workshops and classes for the public at a low cost donation, creating a place for people to meet and enjoy the act of making art, crafting and socializing while learning and recycling.
When a community comes together for a common purpose the results can be truly powerful. The 757 Creative Reuse Center in Norfolk is an excellent example of this. What started as a meeting of the minds between two individuals who were both passionate about sustainability, art and their community, turned into a movement. George Arbagust and Beth Romo took what could be and made what is now the only sustainability focuses arts and crafts reuse center within a hundred mile radius.
It all started when George started a web series through his Youtube channel Salvage Upcycle Show featuring artists who used sustainable and recycled materials in their artwork. Beth was one of those artists. She is the owner and maker at Goth Mom Collective here in Norfolk Virginia. She creates what her Facebook page describes as “apothecary, home and jewelry items with a darkly beautiful style”…” stating that, “Whenever possible recycled materials, found objects and natural items are collected and used.” You can find her artwork here.
As George and Beth got to talking about their shared passion of sustainable art, the subject of the large Durham Scrap Exchange came up. Durham Scrap Exchange is a huge building turned reuse center in Durham, NC. George mentioned in passing that it would be so great if someone would start something like that in our area, Beth agreed and they joked that maybe it should be them. Time passed and George got back in touch to see if Beth would be willing to commit to a plan with him to see the idea through to reality. Beth agreed to commit and with that, they were off!
They pooled their resources, turned to community contacts and social media to create some buzz and found overwhelming support. Within a short amount of time they were able to vote in a board of directors in September 2018. Between the board members generous contributions, as well as through events such as craft supply swaps, where they received monetary as well as material donations and a go-fund-me, they raised enough cash to file the papers to be recognized officially as a 501 (c)(3) non-profit organization.
Next, they networked with other reuse centers, such as Scrap RVA in Richmond as well as with stores in the area that were closing and liquidating who wanted to give their left over stock to a good cause. Once word got out a little more they found individuals who had entirely too much left over arts and craft supplies in their closets who were happy to offload the excess while doing a good deed. Quickly, their inventory was filling up. A generous board member opened her home to store the goods until they were able to raise enough to rent a storage unit.
Through getting the word out, networking with the community and luck’s perfect timing they came upon the perfect startup space to open up shop. What used to be the home of Mix Galleria, a shop offering in their own words [a] “one-of-a-kind selection of artisan crafted, unique new and vintage décor”. They offered to sublet a portion of the shop to 757CRC. However, soon they would outgrow the building completely. Mix Galleria moved to (2713 Colley Ave, Norfolk VA, 23517) and offered 757CRC first dibs to take over their lease. With zoning already in place for a second hand shop, they saved time and money by taking them up on the offer. Zoning and timing couldn’t have been more perfect.
George, Beth, their board of directors and dedicated volunteers got to work organizing, pricing and setting up the shop for opening day. They opened officially on Saturday May 11th, 2019. They have had amazing support from the community with attendance at several crafting and learning events. They have started a membership program as well and have plans to expand in the future, through educational workshops, community outreach and more inventory.
It has been 2 months since their initial opening and less than a year since George and Beth brainstormed the idea. For something to start and become such a great success in a short amount of time, with this much community support goes to show what a great service they are doing for the residents of the City of Norfolk and surrounding areas.
Beth expressed that there has been a combination of a lot of things that have led to the success of The 757 Creative Reuse Center, but community is the main thing. Beth expressed her gratitude and says she is “Shocked at the amount of support that we’ve received from every single person whose come in. Even if someone is just walking by and they don’t buy anything. Everybody says what a fantastic idea it is, how much the community needed it; and all of those things are true. Which is what helps us keep going. Without the people who are donating stuff to us and coming in and shopping we wouldn’t be around, and we wouldn’t exist. So every person who’s come in and donated or bought something from us is really why it works.”
For the future of 757CRC, the vision of its founders and constituents is to continue what they’re doing now with the addition of expansion. Beth said she would love to see them move into an even larger space that would include a classroom for workshops that could host more people at any given time. She hopes to find more businesses to partner with as well, especially any businesses that offer a sustainable waste that people could put to good use.
In conclusion, everything may seem like it has fallen into place quickly and effortlessly, but that doesn’t mean it has been easy. Beth, George and the board of directors and the host of other volunteers who have given their time deserve every bit of continued support as they strive to offer their best to the community. You can offer your support by:
Donating items: Anything that you would find in a craft store such as Michael’s or AC Moore. Hardware, samples, anything you can fit in your hand for reuse purposes.
They are always the most in need of paint supplies like acrylic paints, oil paints, canvases and paint boards, etc.
They also find that yarn is a hot commodity and flies off the shelves, so if you have any scrap or left-over yarn from projects that you’ve done, this would be a great place to drop them.
Attending classes and workshops
Becoming a 757CRC member
Liking and following them on social media:
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