We need your help to finish building out our shop in its new location. We share building space with Refab STL, an amazing non-profit providing skills training to former combat veterans by deconstructing old buildings in and around St. Louis. These materials are then processed and stored for resale in the historic 40,000 square foot building along Route 66, which houses Citizen Carpentry’s new workshop. Citizen Carpentry aims to be the first worker-owned woodworking co-operative of its kind in the Midwest, encouraging community members, artists, and entrepreneurs to utilize our shop for their work. We have the chance to be a hub of creative revitalization, recycling, and skill-sharing in a city sorely lacking in opportunities.
ReFab Founder Eric Scharz. Photo by J.B. Forbes.
Schwarz’s experience had taught him that in an increasingly imitative world, some people hungered for an authenticity conceived in the marriage of age and use.
He founded Refab, a salvage yard in south St. Louis, in a condemned building four years ago. At the time, he had about $3,000 in his pocket and an idea for salvaging discarded building materials and turning around the lives of veterans. Today, Schwarz leases a 40,000-square-foot warehouse off Gravois Avenue and employs 14 people. His budget for 2017 is $1.2 million. That growth is partly attributable to a backlash against the uniformity produced by globalization.
The customers who frequent this two story red-brick repository of rescued material are weary of seeing the same furniture, the same sinks and the same light fixtures — all of it mass-produced on the other side of the planet. “You go into a lot of houses — and I don’t know if we coined the phrase — but they are all ‘Lowes’d up,’” said Randy Miller, who was looking for material for his coffee shop in Southern Illinois. “This is a like a candy store.”