Archive for March, 2010

Are you a storyteller?

Are you looking for a way to help inspire people to take a second look at what is in their trash treasure can?

Tell us all about your project that you created from used, recycled, found or scrounged materials in the comment section at the bottom of this post.

  • What did you start with and what did you transform it into.
  • What challenges did you overcome in the process.
  • How long did it take?
  • How did you feel afterwards?
  • Have other people commented on your efforts?

You can also contact us via the form on our website and let us know if you have photos or have an extra special project to report on.

Thank you for your contribution to the reuse revolution!

Posted in: Stories about people, Stories about stuff, You can do it yourself

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Finding the beauty in the wood

Entry way hutch made from salvaged wood

Entry way hutch made from salvaged wood

Pat Contor loves old wood. He also has a connoisseur’s taste for old hand saws. Pat’s works as a school psychologist and his main hobby takes the form of building furniture for his home in Bellingham, Washington. His attention to details like dovetail joints and bringing the beauty of wood grain into his functional designs gives him great pleasure and respite.

Shown in the first photo, his entryway welcomes visitors with a beautiful piece that he made almost entirely from materials that he found at The RE store. The hinges, the majority of the wood, and the knobs are all reused. Pat says that the types of wood that he finds at the store make his work a true joy, finding the fine patterns in the grain of a salvaged bleacher board or a piece of green oak that he had to cure himself for years before using.

2-door cabinet made from salvaged wood

2-door cabinet

Pat thinks creatively in many ways – the entryway hutch sits in front of a furnace register, heating the bottom compartment of the cabinet.

“It’s nice to have warm shoes to put on.”

Contor also has a great appreciation for old tools that he has found at The RE Store, especially old saws. He buys them in well-used condition for between 6 and 15 dollars and brings them back to life, resharpening and cleaning them. He showed the care that went into fashioning the handle’s grip (the one in the photo is broken, requiring further restoration) and talked about the quality of craftsmanship that went into the old tools.

Vintage saw

A resharpened vintage saw

“They used these tools all day long. The quality of the design and the steel that they were using 75 years ago just can’t be found today. You could have a saw like this custom-made for you but it would cost you 600 dollars.”

Pat has gifted these restored tools to students that he works with as a school psychologist, as they have gone on to buy their first homes or taken on building projects. He has also bought items like used end tables and restored or enhanced and given them as gifts as well.

“I like to help them get started with something they can really use.”

Posted in: Stories about people, Stories about stuff

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1920’s bungalow restoration

Craftsman bungalow from 1920s

The Schindler's bungalow-style home

By Mike and Becky Schindler

We bought a 1920’s bungalow years ago here in Broadway Park, Bellingham.  As our restorations continue, we are reminded daily of how valuable The RE Store has been for us through this process.  To date, every room in our home has benefited from the store.

One of our first projects was to replaced several non-vintage closet doors.  We knew that louvered doors were not correct for our period home and we felt very fortunate to find and purchase several doors from The RE Store that fit our spaces appropriately.  Another project was to replace three hot water radiators that had been previously removed from the bathrooms and kitchen.  It was really wonderful to find the perfectly operable vintage radiators and restore that type of heat to three very important spaces in our home.

We have replaced light fixtures, door hardware, wood trim, and screen doors; We have purchased old school bleachers to replace our basement stairs and recycled cabinetry from  Western’s old chemistry lab for our garage work bench ; we even found a wonderful vintage deep sink and small hot water heater for a garage that has been used extensively throughout this remodel and process.

Most recently, we have removed the carpet from our stairway and are planning to strip them and refinish them.  Unfortunately, upon removing the carpet we discovered a broken stair.  What are the chances of finding 5/4 fir with one rounded edge to match those in our staircase? Well, we found the wood at The RE Store!  OF COURSE!!!

We are reminded how valuable you are to our community every time we look around our home.  We thank you for being there for two people who have never restored a home before.  We love our vintage 1920’s bungalow and so appreciate being able to find the materials we need to restore the true character of this wonderful old home.  They do not build them like this anymore.  With The RE Store’s help, this home will still be standing for another 96 years!

Posted in: Stories about people, Stories about stuff

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Cheers to History at Fremont Brewing!

Just southeast of Seattle’s infamous Fremont Troll, the bittersweet skunk of fermenting hops wafts from a bright blue warehouse.  Behind the blue walls, you will find Fremont Brewing Company, just barely a year old but quickly making its way to taps across the region.

FounBleacher Board Table and Benchesded by long-time environmental advocates, Sara Nelson and Matt Lincecum, the emerging brewery focuses on locally sourced and organically grown ingredients.  But Fremont Brewing’s commitment to sustainability doesn’t stop with the contents of their kegs.

Having refurbished their home with RE Store treasures, Sara and Matt looked to the Seattle store for key elements of the brewery’s décor.  “It’s better to reuse than to buy new, plus the materials bring a lot of history”, Sara explained.

RE Store finds accentuate the brewery’s Urban Beer Garden.  Patrons gather at a long banquet table and benches built from bleacher boards salvaged from Ballard High School.  “There is still gum on the bottom,” Sara commented.  Silkscreened t-shirts are stacked in a display reportedly salvaged from a Macy’s.  “It was the color of calamine lotion,” Sara says, “we had to paint it.”  On the walls, artwork by local painter Dan Stuckey hangs in wood framed windows found at the RE Store.  A salvaged playground toy keeps the kids entertained.  Nearby, a commissioned painting of the brewery, painted by Stuckey, includes the unique play toy reflected in the chrome of the brewing equipment.  Sara explains, “We wanted to include the toy because now it’s a special part of our beer garden”.

Antique Wooden CoolerEach salvaged piece has a story, but none compare to the antique wooden cooler stocked full of growlers.  As soon as Matt  found the 1936 cooler, he knew it belonged in their brewery.  But it wasn’t until they talked with RE Store staff about the origin of the piece, that they realized the cooler was more than an attractive centerpiece.

The cooler was salvaged from Pies & Pints, a North Seattle pub and eatery co-founded by Vince Gallapega.  Vince gave Sara her first kiss, circa 1978, in Sacramento, California.   The two crossed paths nearly twenty years later in Seattle and became good friends, sharing a love of good food, good beer, and community.  Sadly, Vince passed away suddenly in 2007.  The antique cooler, now proudly housing handcrafted beers, serves as a relic and an honor to an old friend.

Raise a glass to history at the Fremont Brewing Urban Beer Garden or get a taste of their brew at the RE Store’s Trash Fashion Show on April 17.  Cheers to salvage and re-use!

Posted in: Stories about people, Stories about stuff

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Things you never knew about The RE Store #1 – Murphy’s Law and evacuations

evacuation mapThe RE Store in Bellingham has only had to evacuate it’s store for emergency purposes on a few occasions. Most of them have been due to power outages. The RE Store’s Bellingham Safety Manager, Mike Printup was detailing store evacuation protocols for our staff meeting in late February, 2010 when Marj Leone, our field crew manager, recalled a strange and curious mishap that took place over a decade ago.

On July 2nd, 1999, only 3 weeks after the tragic pipeline explosion that rocked Bellingham, the Georgia-Pacific (G-P) paper mill and chemical refinery on Bellingham’s waterfront had it’s own large explosion. G-P had leaked chlorine gas into downtown Bellingham multiple times over the last 2 decades. A steam generator at the plant burst and injured four G-P employees. The blast blew out windows in downtown. The Old Town Cafe lost all of its large picture windows that faced onto Bellingham Bay and the Georgia-Pacific facility.

Less than a mile away from G-P, The RE Store was still located at it’s former Holly Street site. The sliding front doors were blown off of their tracks by the explosion.

The store manager at the time, Janet Marino, recalls, “The sliding doors flew off their tracks inward and this huge fir school archway that was leaning over the doorway tipped upright, swayed for a minute and came crashing down in the entryway on top of the gumball machine, smashing it.  Nate Moore made an announcement that there had been an explosion on the intercom. I ran through the downstairs shouting ‘there has been an explosion, we are evacuating the building’ and someone knocked on the doors of the bathrooms. We locked the doors and went outside and agreed to go to Alice Panny’s house on F street because it was nearest. We waited until we heard from Carl Weimer (executive director at the time) what had happened, that it was safe and we went back. We weren’t gone for all that long.”

As Murphy’s Law would have it, an elderly man who was very hard of hearing had been using the men’s restroom and had not heard any of the staff’s inquiries for stragglers. The gentleman came to the front doors and found himself locked inside the building.

Janet goes on, “He was a little disoriented, I think, and didn’t know about the explosion or anything else after it.”

In the end, the gentleman was safe, downtown survived another industrial accident, and it became yet another odd tale in The RE Store’s colorful history.

Posted in: Stories about people, Things you never knew about The RE Store

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Reuse and design inspiration

You may have seen some of these examples in our email newsletter in mid 2009 but these are some truly inspirational examples of re-purposed materials.

The Web Ecoist gives us all kinds of out-of-the-box examples of inspiration for furniture. is a great place to find creative ideas and innovations like these top-notch pieces by Rupert Blanchard in the UK. Our very own custom window designer in Bellingham, Nia Sayers, has had her work shown on Apartment Therapy as well!

Check out the creative uses of salvaged materials like a wall that is also shelving made from stainless sinks. Check out their link under the objects menu for the “Sink wall” here

This is what it could look like if you made chairs from 55 gallon drums or shopping carts.

Here is a whole passel of ideas of odd, kitschy, and practical things to do with old drawers, desks, and other almost dead doodads on

If you can’t pass up that bottled beverage, what else can you do with it other than recycle it? How about building an entire temple out of bottles? Check out the Wat Pa Maha Chedio Kaew temple in Thailand. Talk about daylighting* a structure!
*Daylighting is the use of natural daylight to illuminate the inside of a building.

Posted in: Stories about stuff, You can do it yourself

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