June at The Scrap Exchange


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L-R, Suellen Laberdia and Terri Murray


Written by Bryn Hammarberg

Terri Murray and Suellen Laberdia have been involved with fabrics for most of their lives, having started sewing their own clothes at a young age. Originally from Sacramento, CA, Terri has done it all. Before coming to North Carolina 17 months ago, she managed a Hancock’s Fabrics store, was a seamstress for costuming, theater, high-end department stores, and boutiques, and even costumed for Stevie Wonder.

For more than 20 years Sue-Ellen has been making a wide variety of clothing, whether they were items to sell at festivals, outfits for belly dancers, custom wedding dresses, or her current focus, upcycling old cloth and clothing into unique pieces. Suellen is also new to Durham, she relocated from the Charlotte area 4 months ago.

Terri remembers being in awe of The Scrap on her first visit years ago. When she retired from her job, the first place that popped into her mind to work at was The Scrap Exchange. She applied for a position while still in California and moved to North Carolina, bringing the house she built for herself with her! “We see how we can create things instead of trashing them,” a trait she says she shares with those who frequent the store. That’s why she says she makes sure the quilting section is stocked with a fresh, unique assortment of fabrics every day, “because the customers are regulars, and they notice it.”

The customers aren’t the only ones who have noticed. Scrap Shop Manager Gary Owens says since the two started their team effort, the department has seen monthly increases of up to eleven percent, an impressive accomplishment.

“It’s a treasure chest. You never know what you’re going to find.”

“We make sure that the customers can find their treasures at The Scrap without having to sift through everything,” says Sue-Ellen, who loves to get out on the floor and interact with the scrappers, where she is able to share ideas and learn from them as well. She also loves the way everyone works together, the flow of it all, which is not something she has found at many other jobs.




June is shaping up to be a pivotal month for the Reuse Arts District (RAD). On May 31st, El Futuro moved into their newly renovated space in Suite 23.  Days later, Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Raleigh signed a lease for their new Durham Community Food Bank to be located in Suite 30, the former DERC space. With the addition of these two organizations, The Scrap Exchange continues to create a buffer against gentrification by providing a mix of services, art, and retail for the surrounding neighborhood.

Dr. Luke Smith, founder and executive director of El Futuro, shares the importance of having the health services nonprofit in the “epicenter” the Latino community it serves.  He sees being a part of a campus that includes El Centro Hispano and The Durham Community Food Pantry as a catalyst for the organizations to interact more regularly and provide more holistic services to families. Being within walking distance of one another means “the sky’s the limit with what we can accomplish together.”

On the arts side …

The Scrap Exchange has partnered with Super G Print Lab to bring screen printing to the Reuse Arts District. Super G will occupy a portion of the Design Center and provide classes and workshops by August if not sooner. “We are excited to be here and are looking forward to collaborating with The Scrap Exchange, working with their unique materials, and being a part of the community, states Bill Fick.”

PLUS … Just as this newsletter flies out to the world, another space has been leased! Victor Graham will be opening Rhythm’s Live, a new music venue in suites 33 & 34. Victor has set a target date of October 2018 for his new club.

Needless to say we are thrilled by all the activity this month and it’s only mid June! Bring it on universe!


L-R: Board President Katy Clune and Development Director Ann Rebeck at a recent sign lighting ceremony thanking donors whose contributions financed the new signage at the Scrap Thrift store.

Many Thanks to the Triangle Community Foundation!

By Ann Rebeck

Since 1993 the Triangle Community Foundation (TCF) has been a supporter of the mission of The Scrap Exchange to promote creativity, environmental awareness and community through reuse.  The TCF mission to inspire and mobilize giving, leadership, and action has allowed for The Scrap Exchange to grow into the national leader that we are today.

The Scrap Exchange would like to honor TCF and its values:

Community: passion for the region, honoring the diverse strengths, needs, voices, and backgrounds of all people in the Triangle

Equity: Strive for equity and focus on people who are marginalized in our region, recognize the importance of addressing immediate needs and structural barriers.

Leadership: Embrace a role in tackling challenging issues that face the region, we invest in building strong, resilient leaders

Legacy: commit to lasting impact

In the last several months we have embraced a capacity building initiative with the support of TCF.  The Phase I organizational assessment allowed for us to learn about the changes we need to make to keep thriving.  Phase II, if funded, will help establish a strategic plan.  None of this visioning would have been possible without The Triangle Community Foundation.

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