Betsy Dassau would use recycled materials to build a new warehouse if she thought it would work.
Dassau, who founded the Cary Creative Reuse Center, may have enough stuff to do it. By accepting and reselling donated materials, the nonprofit has diverted more than 50 tons of recyclables from the trash since opening about two years ago.
What Dassau doesn’t have is space.
The center’s 1,800-square-foot building in downtown Cary is nearly busting at the seams with paper, ribbon, yarn, cardboard and other art supplies that appeal to children, teachers and artists.
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So Dassau and her crew of volunteers are hoping to raise $60,000 to fund a move to a bigger building by Sept. 30, when their lease at 155 Wilkinson Ave. runs out.
The push started Saturday with a food truck rodeo in front of the store.
“Everybody always says, ‘We’re glad you’re here but you need a bigger space,’ ” Dassau said.
The center sells recycled materials and items Dassau and her volunteers have made out of the materials. They fit as much as they can in a room at the front of the building.
Dassau tries to live by the center’s slogan: “Make art not waste.”
Everything – including the display shelves – was donated or made from recycled materials. Spools of ribbon and yarn are hung on broken pencils and chop sticks poking out from old cardboard tubes.
Prices are written on small yard-sale stickers, and the cash register is in a 10-by-10-foot back room squeezed between three desks that are buried beneath towers of papers and folders.
“It’s hard for people like me who are easily distracted to get work done back here,” Dawn LaRue, social media coordinator for the center, said with a laugh.
Dassau and her volunteers like to host craft classes in a smaller room that abuts the front store area. They once hosted a class where kids made masks, garden labels and flowers out of old file folders.
“It’s amazing the things you can do with these,” Dassau said.
But the room is only big enough for about four adults, so the center is limited in what it can offer.
Leslie Lockhart, a volunteer who’s helping lead fundraising efforts, said the center aspires to be like The Scrap Exchange in Durham, where Dassau worked as an apprentice.
“They have ‘knit night’ every Thursday,” Lockhart said, noting that the Durham store probably has 20,000-square-feet.
“We’d love to do something like that, but space is so limited,” she said.
But they think they’ve come up with a few ways to fund expansion.
LaRue is spreading the word of several fundraisers on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest. She’s already got her sales pitch down: “Why would you spend retail prices for something you can get for pennies on the dollar?” she asked.
The crew has also updated the center’s slogan to fit its need: “Make art, make space.”