Manager Joanne Mason has been at SAMS since 2005
Local community groups and children are getting creative, thanks to other people's waste.
The emporium of rubbish known as Scrap Art Material Store (SAMS) in Blackburn, is where surplus objects are collected and displayed.
These odds and ends are then resold for a minimal charge to nurseries, schools, faith, community and craft groups.
SAMS aims to raise awareness and encourage recycling within the local and business community.
SAMS is based in Apollo House on Ordnance Street in Blackburn, where everything from wool to wallpaper is collected directly from the supplier. Rather than being sent to landfill, unwanted items are then resold to be reused in educational and creative activities.
The company operates as a not-for-profit social enterprise where public and private organisations are welcome. It aims to raise awareness and encourage recycling within the local and business community, reducing landfill and disposal costs whilst helping local children get crafty.
As a supplier of scrap, the possibilities of what you find are endless, as Manager Joanne Mason told us...
How did you get involved with SAMS?
Everything from wool to wallpaper are collected
I started at SAMS in March 2005 - can't believe how time flies by - so much has changed!
I initially applied for the job after seeing an ad in the local paper. I was working as a weighbridge operator on a landfill site, and with my background as a nursery nurse, felt like SAMS was made for me.
What's your role there? What does it involve?
Lots of things! Sourcing new interesting scrap materials, merchandising, dealing with customers, meeting new 'suppliers', attending to customers, unloading the van, mopping the floor - we all muck in together.
What do you enjoy most about your job?
Being creative and being busy.
Going to meet new suppliers is great fun! They are amazed that we want to collect what they perceive as waste or rubbish. It is really interesting to see what companies do and make behind closed doors - did you know that there is a tinsel manufacturer in Darwen?
How big is the store? You must be very organised to know where everything is?!
We collect everything relevant to the 0 - 90 age range, so yes, we have a lot of stock! We all work together to unload the van or merchandise, it's easy to keep an eye on what's in at the moment.
You know when you go to the supermarket and they move things around? Well, it's no different at SAMS, we are always changing things about to make it look interesting and attractive in our shop.
Community and craft groups as well as individuals are welcome
Who uses the materials you sell?
Anyone who has a crafty eye can join SAMS. We have school groups, youth groups, community associations, nurseries, drama and dance groups, church / religious groups - the list really is endless!
Over 890 groups have used the SAMS facility - in March 2005 when I first started here, there were less than 100. We are so proud of how far SAMS has travelled in such a short period of time.
We have members from Carlisle and Cumbria, Blackpool, Formby and Fleetwood. I know its not hundreds of miles away, but it shows that we are offering a good service that is worth travelling to.
What are the most popular items?
Our favourite words are shiny, glittery, sticky backed, fluorescent and furry, so anything that falls under these categories! As we have such an eclectic collection of 'things' different people see different things to make with each item.
What's the strangest thing you've had for sale?
We once collected some Alpaca wool from a local farm!
Have you been busier recently as money is becoming tighter?
There has definitely been a change. Once upon a time, teachers had to order from educational supplies catalogues - which can be extremely expensive. We are finding that the supplies available from SAMS is helping budgets / funding to stretch further. It is definitely cost-effective to source reusable materials from us.
SAMS also run craft workshops in Blackburn
And you run workshops too?
We offer a couple of classes - creative sewing and card making. The idea is that the items created are made from lots of the materials available at SAMS, we get lots of fabric and textiles and are working hard to supply interesting paper and card (amongst the other things!) The classes are well attended and run on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays - but its better if people give us a ring to check the availability.