The sound of relaxing music fills the room as customers find unique treasures and enjoy home-cooked meals at Gathering AK Cafe. Piles of old and new treasures combined fill Anchorage Remade, where clothing, antiques, repaired furniture, art and unique, repurposed creations are donated or consigned.
The non-profit business, run by volunteers, repurposes donated and salvaged materials from the Anchorage Municipality Transfer Station to sell. Remade donates to charities such as Big Brothers Big Sisters, Bean’s Cafe and Catholic Social Services. It has partnered with over 40 nonprofit organizations since Patti Buist opened it in 2015.
“She wanted it to be a place where people to collaborate creatively, a place where artists could gather, repurpose and design products together with the purpose of helping people in need and keeping things out of the landfill,” community networker Jill Kanuit, a full-time volunteer at Remade for nearly two years, said.
While volunteers donate a lot of time and energy into Remade, they feel that what they get in return is worthwhile.
“I really couldn’t believe that they weren’t getting paid, yet they were so willing and joyful to be there. It gave me a sense that they really believed in the place,” UAA student Theresa Thomas, who has shopped at Remade, said.
Group volunteer coordinator Danny Hester repairs and repurposes furniture, such as headboards and chairs, into benches for Remade.
“They are trying to help people,” Hester said. “That’s part of my heart — to meet people’s needs and care about them.”
While many of the items for sale are remade into store-quality creations with fair prices, others are left untouched as potential projects for customers. Remade teaches classes on life skills, such as cooking in their approved kitchen and cafe and creative repurposing projects. They provide resources and training for people to develop skills and reach their goals.
Darcy Moxon, who has volunteered at Remade, repurposes furniture.
“It’s a mutual partnership where I dedicate my time and energy to help Remade and that gives me access to the tools [and donated supplies],” Moxon said.
Remade accomplished a lot in 2018. It saved 10,900 pounds of materials from the landfill. It helped 19 new businesses start up through small business training. Over a hundred volunteers contributed almost 10,000 hours. It opened a coffee bar, which has grown into the Gathering AK Cafe.
Each day of the week, a different chef serves a different nationality or type of food including Mexican, Cuban, barbeque and sweet and savory.
This year, the Remade community is trying to expand its volunteer staff and raise funds to buy the building that they are currently working out in.
Volunteers are welcome to drop in or sign up to take on positions. Remade currently needs people to manage the clothing section, serve as a chef or barista and help clean.
Through donations, the Remade team hopes to be debt free by 2022.
“We were supposed to come up with 100,000 dollars, which we haven’t been able to do,” Kaniut said.
While Remade has monetary needs, its main focus is on the people. By partnering with like-minded organizations and individuals to reach their goals, Remade has fostered a caring, creative and empowered community.
“For a long time [our goal] was surviving… Now we are trying to thrive,” Phil Wright, who contributes carpentry, sewing and makes licence plate signs, said.
Remade is open Monday through Saturday 11 a.m.-5 p.m. and Thursday 11 a.m.-8 p.m. In the summer, vendors sell their own products at Saturday Remade Markets from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. The next Saturday Market is June 8.