The Scrap Exchange was founded in 1991 by a small group of individuals seeking to establish a sustainable supply of high-quality, low-cost materials for artists, educators, and other creative people.

One of the founders, Chris Rosenthal, had worked in Australia for an organization called the Reverse Garbage Truck; The Scrap Exchange was modeled on that program.

For the first 9 years of its existence, The Scrap Exchange was housed in donated space at Northgate Mall.

In fall 1999, the organization leased 13,000 square feet of space in Liberty Warehouse, a former tobacco warehouse of historic significance in a newly emerging arts district in the Central Park district of downtown Durham. Operations were relocated and the store opened for business downtown in January 2000.

In May 2011, a portion of the Liberty Warehouse roof collapsed and the building was condemned by the City of Durham. Following a tumultuous several weeks spent securing temporary space and moving massive volumes of materials, The Scrap Exchange relocated to the newly christened “Cordoba Center for the Arts” at the east end of downtown, across the parking lot from the Golden Belt complex. The Scrap Exchange operated out of this location from June 2011 until August 2014.

In December 2013, The Scrap Exchange purchased the former Center Theater (which housed the Duke Surplus Store from 1997 to 2007) in the Lakewood Shopping Center at 2050 Chapel Hill Road in Durham. The property includes a 23,000 square foot building on 2.4 acres of land. Following 6 months of repairs and renovations, operations were moved into this space in August 2014 with a grand opening held in October 2014.

In 2016, The Scrap Exchange secured a short-term loan from the North Carolina Community Development Initiative Fund to purchase the northern part of the Lakewood Shopping Center, adding 85,000 square feet of retail space and expanding the campus footprint to 12.5 acres.

With this new space and a bold new vision for the future, 2017 promises to be a pivotal year as we celebrate 26 years of creative reuse and launch our biggest dream yet … the Reuse Arts District and National Center for Creative Reuse.

The Scrap Exchange has received several local and national awards during the course of its history. This list highlights a few of the awards received in recent years.