On Saturday, Sept. 26, ReUse Makerspace and thrift store held an open house at its new location. 

Ever since the original Makerspace and thrift store was closed in early February 2020 due to financial issues, Athens locals have been eagerly waiting for an opportunity to reopen the beloved buildings, which provided not only a workspace for artists and craftspeople, but a space to donate and purchase used clothing and items. Rural Action and a number of other Southeast Ohio organizations were able to come together and acquire ReUse’s assets, opening a new Makerspace and thrift store in the original building. 

Patty Mitchell, executive director of Passion Works Studio, was one of the key people who helped create the new ReUse.

“We were part of the ‘Dream Team’ imagining what could happen after ReUse closed,” Mitchell said in an email. “Our part is to introduce production opportunities, product research & development and upcycling materials via the thrift store into products, puppets or art.”

Passion Works has long utilized ReUse to create the metal Passion Flowers, using its aluminum printing plates and metal sheets in ReUse’s metal shop. The metal shop was just recently set up again in the new MakerSpace so that Passion Works can use the workspace again to make the Passion Flowers, along with its giant Honey for the Heart puppets.

Without Debbie Phillips, the CEO of Rural Action, ReUse might have never come together again. Rural Action scheduled a public meeting in order for non-profit organizations to come together and plan for ReUse’s future. 

“I am very optimistic for the new Makerspace and thrift store because we have such strong partners involved, which will provide a lot of expertise and capacity to the project,” Phillips said. “Everything slowed down at the beginning of the pandemic, and all of our organizations needed to focus on our core operations, which made it difficult to contemplate new partnerships. But, once we started meeting again via Zoom, everyone was so enthusiastic about the partnership that it has really given us all a lot of energy and enthusiasm to move forward.”

The Tool Library, a program set up through ReUse that allowed members to access a number of tools used in the Makerspace, has been taken over by the Athens County Public Libraries. Donated funds allowed the library system to purchase the Tool Library’s assets in order to make the library free to use for any Athens County resident. 

Nick Tepe, director of the Athens County Public Libraries, ensured the library was involved in the development of the new Makerspace since the very beginning.

Thanks to the library system, the Makerspace will also have a program where library patrons can check out two-week memberships to the Makerspace, making these workspaces much more accessible to members of Athens County. Tepe is very optimistic for the new Makerspace and thrift store.

“(The Makerspace and thrift store) both occupied a space where there’s a clear need in our community, and both were just starting to gain traction when ReUse Industries had to cease operations,” Tepe said in an email. “Since there was an active Makerspace in Athens County already, the best thing our library could do was to support those efforts and give access to those resources to our patrons… We are glad we can be a small part of keeping these resources available to the people of our region.”

@thelilyroby

lr158117@ohio.edu