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Guelph Tool Library to open circular thrift store

The store will sell gently-used items on a sliding scale and act as a community hub for re-homing items that can be reused or repurposed
Jackie Cardow takes a look at some of the donated clothing during GTL's clothing swap earlier this year -- one of many events that inspired the Circular Store.

A new thrift store is coming to town, aimed at keeping your gently-used items from hitting the landfill by all means possible. 

The Guelph Tool Library is launching their first circular thrift store in the new year, which will collect gently-used items and sell them on a sliding scale at four different price points. 

This allows “people a little bit more flexibility, and they’ll be able to choose the price that suits their financial needs and capacity,” said Steph Clarke, program coordinator for the Guelph Tool Library. 

The store will be set up across the hall from the Guelph Tool Library in the Old Quebec Street Shoppes.

They will be open a couple days a week in January to collect inventory and generate interest, but their official launch date is Feb. 11.

But it’s not just a store: it’s also a community hub for re-homing items that can be recycled, reused or repurposed.

If an item is damaged or doesn’t sell, it will be passed along to an organization that reuses, repurposes or upcycles goods. 

If they can’t find someone to reuse it, it will go to a third-party company like TerraCycle, which recycles items like razor blades, razors, empty shampoo bottles, toothbrushes, empty toothpaste tubes and coffee packaging. 

“And these items can get collected by us and shipped to their recyclers at no cost to either the people contributing them or our organization,” she said. This is because the companies making the products have agreed to cover the cost of shipping “if we do a bit of the legwork to get the items to them.”

While the sliding scale model was inspired by the work the SEED does with sliding scale produce markets, the idea for the store itself was inspired by past events and community demand. 

One such event was Re: Purpose Fest, where they collected more than 2,500 kg of items for repurposing and recycling, distributing them to third party organizations and community groups. 

She said this, and other events like the Circular Fashion Festival and their clothing swap and sales left the community asking for more. 

“I think a lot more people are starting to embrace that idea of choosing second-hand goods first,” she said. “And because we were presented with the people power and the funding to pull it off, this just seemed like the right time to dive in,” she said. 

Though they’re not open yet, donations are already being collected. Right now, they’re looking for gently-used items like winter clothing, trinkets, household items, arts and crafts supplies, tools and appliances, and small toys. You can find the fill list of the items they’re looking on this page, which will be updated regularly depending on their needs.

Clarke said they will be in the space until at least April, though they hope to extend the project further. 

Since it’s volunteer-run, hours haven’t been solidified yet. But, she said they plan to be open Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays.