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Victoria’s reuse-inspired art supply thrift store finds new downtown home

SUPPLY has diverted more than 7,000 lbs. of supplies from ending up in the dump
SUPPLY Victoria Creative Reuse Centre executive director Ashley Howe outside the art, office and school supply thrift store’s new location at 707 Douglas St. (Jake Romphf/News Staff)

A Victoria non-profit’s pursuit of making art, office and school supplies more accessible while cutting the amount of those materials being landfilled is set to be bolstered with a move to a new, high-traffic home.

SUPPLY Victoria Creative Reuse Centre will reopen in late February at 707 Douglas St. in Crystal Gardens – a buzzy downtown area that sees lots of locals and tourists with the Victoria Conference Centre, Royal B.C. Museum and the legislature nearby.

The arts, crafts and school supplies thrift store serves as a more sustainable and accessible option for artists, students and teachers as it equips them with the items they need to explore their creative endeavours.

After the centre worked out of a Fairfield Road artist hub since opening in the summer of 2022, the new location will be the first time SUPPLY has its own space. The Douglas Street spot is also more physically accessible, has more parking options and has a loading zone right out front that will make it easier for donors to drop off supplies.

The increased foot traffic and street visibility are exciting for Ashley Howe, the centre’s executive director. Murals by local artists will paint the walls at the new site, while city placemaking efforts have also set up seating and a Little Free Library right outside SUPPLY’s door.

“What I hope the space, and the outdoor space, becomes is a really vibrant, welcoming and colourful space that inspires creativity and sustainability,” Howe said.

The centre has so far diverted more than 7,000 pounds of supplies from ending up in the dump and Howe said the new location will enhance that mission.

“It’ll just be easier for people to shop and that means we’ll be able to move more materials, which means we’ll be able to divert more materials from the landfill,” she said.

SUPPLY Victoria Creative Reuse Centre executive director Ashley Howe outside the art, office and school supply thrift store’s new location at 707 Douglas St. (Jake Romphf/News Staff)

As a former art student who would stress over the cost of supplies, Howe knows firsthand there are lots of people who need more affordable options. She hopes the new space will get more materials out to those who need them most.

The centre operates on a sliding scale where customers are presented with a price range for a particular item and they pay what they can. It also prices everything 50 to 90 per cent off the retail cost and gives a 20 per cent discount to teachers, who often pay for school supplies out of pocket.

“We know price can be a barrier for a lot of folks, so we support a lot of low-income makers,” Howe said.

The centre will be providing monthly programming at NeighbourSpace, a city-owned community event spot that’s next door to SUPPLY’s new home. That space will also host SUPPLY’s regular workshops, which teach people how to make art or other creations out of material that would’ve been thrown away. Workshops in recent months showed attendees how to make baskets out of old ethernet cables and taught students how to use discarded denim to craft art pieces that look like flowing water.

The workshops also include education on upcycling and the environmental impact of wasting items that could be given a new purpose.

The centre has been fundraising to support its moving costs and is three-quarters of the way to its $14,000 goal.

“We’re really really grateful for any amount that anyone can donate and it’s crucial for us to be able to remain open as a low-cost resource for Victoria students, artists and teachers,” Howe said.

SUPPLY’s online fundraiser can be found here.

READ: Victoria’s reuse-inspired ‘community craft closet’ makes art more accessible

Jake Romphf

About the Author: Jake Romphf

In early 2021, I made the move from the Great Lakes to Greater Victoria with the aim of experiencing more of the country I report on.
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