Despite the many challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, SCRAP Creative Reuse Ann Arbor has made changes that will increase its outreach to the Washtenaw County community – and potentially nationwide.
The nonprofit, which sells donated materials as arts and crafts supplies, moved to a new location at 4567 Washtenaw Ave. in Pittsfield Township in fall 2019, but the pandemic quickly forced it to change and adapt yet again. SCRAP thrives on shoppers coming into the store to purchase its inexpensive, sustainable materials, so the decline in customers over the past year hurt business. The store even closed for two months during the pandemic, and had to lay off 75% of its staff. Due to these changes, SCRAP has also lacked the capacity to stock many recycled materials it usually gets from businesses that donate them.
But the new changes haven't been all bad. SCRAP staff have wanted to increase the nonprofit's outreach nationwide for years, and the pandemic gave them the chance to achieve this goal through a new online store.
“We’re excited. We actually just started shipping about a week ago,” says Claire Tyra, SCRAP Ann Arbor’s site director. “Our online store is a big accomplishment that we’ve had to just kind of make happen, and is something that we wouldn’t have made time for before.”
SCRAP also provides private shopping opportunities that people can book for a more comfortable and safe way to shop in-store. It also offers virtual private workshops for those who want to get creative and help preserve the environment while staying safe at home.
“We’ve been contacted by area libraries that are doing crafty creative outreach, and school teachers that are trying to send things home during this time where everyone is separate,” Tyra says. “That has been really cool too, to see large groups of people utilizing our materials.”
SCRAP also has numerous volunteer opportunities available for people of all ages.
“Volunteers help us make a lot of our kits,” Tyra says. “Groups of parents and kids come in and test all of our pens, pencils, and markers, and make sure all of those things work and sort them and put them out. We have tons of opportunities.”
More information on all these initiatives is available on SCRAP's website.
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Maria Patton is a lifelong Ypsilanti resident. She is currently a student at the University of Michigan, working towards a bachelor’s degree in communications and media. You can find more of her work in The Michigan Daily, where she is a columnist for the Michigan in Color section. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photo courtesy of SCRAP Creative Reuse Ann Arbor.