Aluminum bleacher planks are some of the materials available at Repurposed Materials in Forest Hill, a suburb of Fort Worth.
Jan. 30, 2017
Call it a thrift shop on steroids. Instead of housewares and shoes, at Repurposed Materials, customers can peruse stacks of old ball park bleachers, billboard tarps and rows of metal drums at the industrial resale store in south Fort Worth.
At the 30,000-square-foot warehouse, byproducts and waste from one industry is typically purchased for a different purpose. Gym bleacher wood is turned into architectural accents, synthetic turf becomes horse paddock, a conveyor belt turns into a fence buffer and a pool cover is now a kennel shade.
“It’s a really cool industry,” said Jeff Williams, who took over as manager of the DFW location in October. “My wife and I always loved shopping at consignment stores. This takes it to a bigger level.”
The Denver-based company, founded by Damon Carson, opened its fifth U.S. location in Forest Hill last spring.
Prior to founding Repurposed Materials in 2010, Carson co-owned a traditional garbage hauling company in the Colorado ski resort towns of Vail and Breckenridge.
Damon Carson founded Repurposed Materials in Denver. He opened the DFW location in 2016. Courtesy of Sierra Club.
That company was eventually sold to Waste Management. In 2010, Carson was making a living restoring kiddie rides, according to a Sierra Club article. An airbrush painter had recommended using old billboards as drop cloths. That's when he had an epiphany about industrial waste. Carson bought two dozen billboard tarps and sold the excess for profit. A business was born.
Besides making money, the goal, he says, when he founded Repurposed Materials was to help keep materials out of the landfill.
Now with branches in DFW, Atlanta, Chicago and Philadelphia, Carson's eco-friendly enterprise has delivered the green.
“We are basically an industrial thrift store chain,” Carson explains. “We have all kinds of castoffs of industry sitting in our warehouses that are available for sale.”
On the company’s website, they have a list of items they call “weird stuff” that are waiting to be repurposed, like a furnace heater, flagstone rocks and even fiberglass poles.
The most common materials that come through Carson’s stores are athletic turf, used conveyor belting, used advertising billboard vinyls and different types of reclaimed wood.
Billboard material can be repurposed tarp in the agricultural industry.
“Our sources of materials range from small contractors to Fortune 500 corporations,” Carson says when asked where he gets the material he recycles.
“We’re interested in dealing with any organization, regardless of size, that has obsolete materials, chemistry, inventory, byproducts, equipment, all may be a candidate for repurposing.”
Once Repurposed Materials gets the material from the various sources, the items then go to the warehouse waiting to find a new home.
“Whenever we make a deal for materials, we bring them in to one of our warehouses where they sit until we can find a second life for them,” Carson says.
The company mainly deals in materials that have already had a life, nothing new and Carson says there are some occasions that he can’t accept materials for various reasons.
Artificial turf is one of the most common items available for repurposing.
As for the customers that Repurposed Materials caters to, it’s a diverse range that include ranchers, landscapers, DIY’ers and business owners.
“Our customers have three characteristics in common,” Carson says. “They are innovative, resourceful and frugal. Repurposing is my second foray into the waste stream of America, albeit this time we’re trying to keep stuff out of the landfill.”
Damon Carson, founder of Repurposed Materials, explains his philosophy: