A new small business offers a creative approach to reducing craft waste while supporting local arts organizations at the same time.
Bits & Bops, based in St. James, is collecting donations of old craft supplies that might be gathering dust or destined for the trash. If these supplies are in good condition, they will be resold to other crafters. If not, they will be recycled.
"During the last lockdown, I was at home for 10 weeks with my dog. I was so bored I needed a new project to keep me going — something that didn’t require other people," explained business owner Missy K., who prefers to not use her last name.
"So I started Bits & Bops. It’s a small, start-up thrift store specializing in craft supplies. The goal is to reduce waste and give back to the community."
She made a few Facebook posts seeking donations and was overwhelmed by the positive response.
"I’ve had so many lovely people reach out to me, excited to help me start this new venture. I couldn’t put into words how much this excited me. I have so many boxes to sort through and prep. I’m working on that now, while also building up content for the website and the social media feeds," she said.
"I’m hoping to launch virtually soon, and once the pandemic settles down and I sort out funding, I’m hoping to have a retail storefront. I’d like to have in-person shopping to sell our supplies but also give a space to local artists to sell their work. I’m working tirelessly to get things up and running while also maintaining COVID-19 safety measures."
Missy said she dabbles in crafts but doesn’t consider herself a crafting expert.
"I picked up embroidery last year to keep me company. It’s been so much fun to learn, although I really don’t do it as much as I’d like to," she said.
"I am more of a digital artist. I’m a photographer who works a lot in Photoshop to make some incredible portraits. It’s something I’ve always really enjoyed."
Once she launches her online shop, Bits & Bops will offer a full spectrum of craft supplies.
"Currently, we have a huge variety of items that have been donated, from faux flowers to scrapbook paper to beads and even your basic pencils and markers," Missy said.
"I’m hoping I can also offer a space for local artists to sell their products. I want to be able to support our community as much as possible."
Looking ahead, Missy hopes to donate to programs that are meaningful to the community.
"Once we have enough accumulated, I’ll put out a call to action to see where the community wants the money to go. I’m hoping one day we can sponsor students to take classes they may not be able to afford and help parents get the supplies for their child’s art classes that may be a bit out of budget," she said.
"I remember how expensive the classes I took could be, and I don’t want any student to not have access to these programs because of a financial issue. But, for now, I have to start small."
For those who would like to donate craft supplies, Bits & Bops is offering curbside drop-offs by appointment only.
"Folks can message us on any of our social media or via email to set up an appointment. We’re currently accepting any crafting supplies, new or used. Because we’re still building up an inventory there’s not anything specifically we’re looking for," Missy said.
"I do not accept clothing donations. There are plenty of other small thrift store owners who could use clothing donations."
For crafters looking to buy items, Bits & Bops will also offer curbside pickup and hopefully delivery.
"This business means the world to me, I’m working incredibly hard to make this into something viable that the entire community can enjoy. The big dream is to facilitate classes and help supply folks with a less wasteful way to continue their hobbies," Missy said.
"Art is hugely important to the community, especially here in Winnipeg. I want to ensure people can still access art but also help reduce the amount of waste we produce as a community."
For more information or to make a donation, email firstname.lastname@example.org or send a message through the Bits & Bops Facebook or Instagram pages