With cubbies filled to the brim with vibrant fabrics, shelves overflowing with diverse art mediums and unique supplies hailing from varying time periods, this art store has no shortage of creative opportunities for just about anyone that walks through its doors. However, what sets this shop apart from any Michael’s or Hobby Lobby is that almost everything in its inventory is pre-owned and donated, making this craft store truly one of a kind.
Thistle Creative Reuse is a secondhand arts and crafts shop that values sustainability and maintaining a modest carbon footprint by keeping an inventory of handed down materials still in shape for many more years of use. The shop opened in January 2021 and has since collected nearly 6,000 pounds of creative materials from waste streams, diverting them from landfills and sewage systems.
Co-owners Kari Meyecord-Westerman, Jenna Dunlap, and Heather Leigh Hoskins were employees at SCRAP Denton, a similar donation-based creative reuse store before its shutdown in the summer of 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The pandemic drained the very small amount of resources and offers that SCRAP had,” executive director Meyercord-Westerman said. “There were too many uncertainties like high rent, and we couldn’t be open for several months. We also couldn’t make that transition to being online that quickly.
“It just all came down to money.”
Though not related to SCRAP Denton, the owners consider Thistle to be SCRAP’s “step-daughter” and owe much of their business and sustainability knowledge to their time spent working with the late creative reuse shop.
“We learned a lot from SCRAP, which made it able to let us create this space,” art and education director Hoskins said.
The existence of a previous creative reuse shop made it easier for Thistle to target their audience and gain traction within the community, Meyercord-Westerman said. Much of the shop’s customers consists of those that frequented SCRAP Denton and are familiar with sustainable arts and crafts supplies.
Aside from selling materials, Thistle hosts workshops every third Thursday of the month, where Hoskins gets the opportunity to share her knowledge gained through her bachelor’s and Master of Fine Arts. She teaches attendees the art of varying crafts and hobbies along with their history and vocabulary. Hoskins said that through these workshops, she hopes for people to gain new skills and the ability to know that they are capable of mastering a craft.
“Maybe it’s not something that they want to continue to do, but they get to have fun and have that moment of learning something,” Hoskins said.
Along with workshops, Thistle has a give-back program open for individuals, organizations, teachers and others as a way to provide materials nearly free of cost for those in need. Applicants fill out a form online where they specify what they are looking for, and if the shop is able to grant them with what they need, applicants are notified and invited to the store to pick up their materials.
As a multi-faceted business, the owners recognize the many impacts they have made on the community and usefulness the shop offers to those who come in. Many were devastated when SCRAP Denton closed and left local creatives with a lack of resources, which emphasized how important creative reuse is to the community, Meyercord-Westerman said. The opening of Thistle helped reconnect those who valued creative sustainability and enjoy “reimagining the lifecycle of materials.”
“We get to know people by name and sometimes they even bring their projects back in to show us after they’re done with them,” Meyercord-Westerman said.
The shop’s community engagement continues to increase as they plan on hosting a reuse runway show at the Denton Redbud Festival next year, an idea that Meyercord-Westerman spearheaded during her time at SCRAP Denton.
In the years to come, the team at Thistle hopes to expand the business and open up more locations within the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex.
“People are still driving from, like, an hour away just to come here to our little, tiny shop in Denton—that’s crazy,” Meyercord-Westerman said. “That says to me that we need locations and other spots so that people have more access. That’s my dream.”
The team also hopes to eventually have their own studio where they can do everything in-house as their workshops are currently being taught roughly a mile away at Armadillo Ale Works on Bell Ave.
“We built this from nothing and it all stems from this idea that blossomed into our space,” Hoskins said. “We all did it together, worked really hard and our vision came to life.”
Gakenia Njenga can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.