Program Report: Ann Rebeck – Lakewood Scrap Exchange

The Lakewood Scrap Exchange, located since 2014 in the former Center Theater in the Lakewood Shopping Center, is the country’s largest “creative reuse” space according to Ann Rebeck, development director.  It aims to foment a creative reuse “revolution.”  Although the Exchange sells donated items in its Thrift Store and Scrap Store, it is “more than a store.”  It has classes and workshops in the creative arts, provides workspaces for artists and artisans, an exhibition space for artists using reclaimed materials including metal, wood, and fabric.  Glass blowing is on the horizon.  It hosts workshops, parties and outreach events.  It provides school classroom workshops and after-school activities as well as professional development for teachers and others in the creative reuse of materials.

The “mother ship” of the concept of creatively reusing materials that would probably otherwise find their way into solid waste facilities was in Australia.  There, it was called the Reverse Garbage Truck.  It served as the model for Durham’s Scrap Exchange that was founded in the early 1990s.   One of the founders of the Scrap Exchange had worked in the Reverse Garbage Truck and brought the idea back to Durham.   Experiencing significant growth over the years, retail sales in 2016 topped $700,000 providing about eighty-five percent of the cost of operations.  The number of full-time and part-time employees continues to rise.  About 200 shoppers a day come through the retail store.  With a vision of developing a Reuse Arts District, the Scrap Exchange acquired the northern end of Lakewood Shopping Center in 2016.

Items sold in the Exchange’s two stores are donated by individuals and by about 250 businesses and industries in a 100 mile radius of Durham.  Ann pulled three reusable items out of her show-and-tell bag: an industrial-size spool for thread on which kids can paint or paste; a decorated tin canister for storing wine corks or similar items; and bottle caps.  She pointed out that in Durham, at least, plastic bottles can be recycled, but the caps cannot.  And the caps can be turned into terrific art projects.  A unique service is short term rental of home health equipment such as wheel chairs.  For a sample listing of typical items available for purchase, see the Scrap Exchange’s website (  For frequent shoppers, the website has a “new arrivals” page.  Purchases can also be made on Ebay.

Submitted by Allen Cronenberg 


  1. As a Rotarian ( Rotary Club of Hillsborough), repurposed art advocate and board member of The Scrap Exchange, I am most heartened to see ‘The Scrap’ highlighted at a Rotary Meeting.

    Would love to see some regular Rotary volunteer hours on the weekends at The Scrap when donations swamp our paid staff. What a great opportunity for a Rotary Club and its Interact or Rotaract partners to hold a joint service project!

    Also, how many Rotarians know about ESRAG( the Rotary initiative for sustainable living that reflects the re-use and repurpose focus of The Scrap Exchange.

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