The Scrap Exchange

A few months back now… The Scrap Exchange just moving into the new space.

Surely Durhamanians know that The Scrap Exchange, an old community stand-by, a veritable institution, has moved to a new location, the Cordoba Center for the Arts. But have you been there yet? Have you given a thought to just what a valuable, local resource it is? Ask yourself, is it really a coincidence that we have the kind of creative, burgeoning artistic community that we do here in Durham? What Durham is, it is built on what Durham was.

Clarion Content Arts & Culture columnist, Cady Childs, digs deeper into the story, reminding us, pooling our collective recollections with the latest news about what’s going on at 923 Franklin Street, Durham, 27701.

Keep an eye out for her upcoming piece on another Durham institution that has moved into the Cordoba Center, Liberty Arts.


As a child, if I made it through a trip to Northgate Mall with my parents without spending too long drooling over carousel globes and sparkly shoes, my reward was always a $5 grab bag at The Scrap Exchange store. Bins taller than I was, filled with millions of metallic scraps of paper, plastic nozzles and keyboard keys, floppy disks and pieces of fabric, bins full of the ideas rolling around my bright little mind that hadn’t brought themselves to fulfillment till I stepped in to the store. I couldn’t widen my eyes enough.

Now, The Scrap Exchange, owned by Ann Woodward, is located in the new Cordoba Center for the Arts, next door to East Durham’s Golden Belt, with space for studios, free workshops, and enough aisles and raw materials to seed and yield more projects than could fit into most childhoods.

“The expanse really shows how materials can occupy the space in so many different ways,” Woodward, who manages over thirty employees in the new location, said. The shelf behind her built from dozens of old VHS tapes stacked like bricks certainly flourished her point.

Since the original relocation in mid-June, the Scrap Exchange has been spreading it’s fingers and stretching it’s limbs more and more into the new opportunities provided by such a massive building.

Among the new projects and endeavors Woodward has been putting together is a woodworking shop, with classes taught by local artisans and a tool library free to the public, as well as craft workshops, often lead by Woodward herself. An artist’s marketplace, featuring over sixty local artists using reused, sustainable pieces provides retail space for craftsmen, as well as examples, for those of who aren’t sure where to start.

These endeavors give Durham residents a chance to experience, first-hand, how far their imagination and inspiration can truly go.

“There is so much potential in the world of reuse as a job creator,” Woodward said. “It is an unlimited opportunity in so many ways, individuality, resources, the environment. It’s a big resource to any community.”

The importance of reuse and the creativity it brings is clear to patrons of Scrap Exchange, both young and old.

“From the containers I use in my garden to the wreath on my door, I was able to build it out of what I got at the Scrap Exchange, “ Amber Crews, Durham resident, said. “Whether you are looking for materials for collages, fabric scraps, buttons, or just some inspiration, they have it all.”

The creative opportunities in these multifarious mediums are certainly motivating to anyone artistically inclined, but to a child’s eyes these items simply are more pliable, more malleable, more cross-applicable, one’s artistic inclination in adulthood is shaped by these kinds of memories.

“Scrap Exchange gives a question to kids in Durham that every child should be asked,” said Eli McDuffee, lead singer of Durham band, LiLa, “They said ‘Here are the objects—now tell me what you want to make out of this.’ It can be whatever you want, but it’s got to be all you.”

The creative stimuli in the air between the walls of The Scrap Exchange’s new location is so strong you can smell it as soon as you walk in the door. On the way out, a small girl in a tie-dyed tank top and cut off pink shorts sits on the ground, sorting buttons into piles of similar shapes, holding each one inches from her eye, clasped tightly between her fingers, taking in their character fully before filtering them into their respective genre. Though we don’t know yet what she’s making, even she may not, we know what Woodward and The Scrap Exchange are helping her build- an outlet for her young mind to speak through. I can’t help but remember I used to have almost the exact same shorts when I was her age.

Cady Childs is renown for her rapier wit and sharp eye for fashion. As our Creative Director, Childs pulled off great event after great project, from our own Fashion Drive-Bys which Childs styled to reFASHIONED Durham where she crafted a line of clothes, her endeavors have been par excellence. She has covered everyone from LiLa to the Carrack to Runaway Clothes for the Clarion Content.

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