Jonelle Dawkins, Executive Director of Scraplanta. Photographs by Isadora Pennington.

Just a few steps down from the TJ Maxx at the Briarcliff Village shopping center in
Tucker is a small, relatively unassuming storefront that holds immeasurable treasures. This is Scraplanta, a creative reuse store that is part thrift, part art supply shop.

This shop has a little bit of everything: knitting needles, beads, ribbon, fabric, paper,
partially empty tubes of acrylic paint, cardboard boxes, toilet paper tubes, picture frames, and oddly enough, a lot of trophies.

Jonelle Dawkins is the executive director of Scraplanta, and she has brought her
passion for sustainable retail to the forefront of operations at this burgeoning store.

“I’ve always loved the environment,” said Dawkins as we sat together in her office. At
only 25 years old, Dawkins carries an air of confidence and leadership of a woman far beyond her years. She attended the University of Georgia, graduating in 2019, during which she studied ethical fashion in Ghana and obtained a Sustainability Certificate. She went on to attend graduate school at North Carolina A&T where she discovered creative reuse centers in Greensboro, NC.

“During my time at UGA I got a certificate in sustainability, so I wanted to use that to market myself as a fashion designer who cares about the environment,’ she said. “When I found out about creative reuse centers, I thought it was perfect because it was the intersection of art and sustainability.”

Dawkins said that since they began accepting donations last May, Scraplanta has collected around 30,000 pounds of materials. It’s an astonishing number, and it highlights the need that this community has for a sustainable creative reuse store where craft and art supplies can find new life.

An estimated 40-50 people walk through the doors of Scraplanta every day. Dawkins
said some regulars return every day to peruse the shelves and bins that are nearly overflowing with materials. It appears that Scraplanta is not only a valuable resource for artists who need art supplies for their projects, but also for crafty folks who enjoy the act of looking. Dawkins said some days the store is packed to the brim with shoppers, and it seems that many find peace and relaxation from browsing. “They will come and just look for like an hour and leave in a better mood than when they came in,” she said.

It’s not unusual to see a mix of shoppers at Scraplanta since it appeals to small children and their families, seniors, college students, art educators, crafters, and professional artists alike. According to Dawkins, part of Scraplanta’s success is the lower price point. She wants it to be accessible not only to shop there but also reasonable to donate leftovers back to Scraplanta when there are things that go unused.

“I want people to be able to immerse themselves in art without spending so much money and be okay with being bad at first,” Dawkins said, “Sometimes when we start a new hobby and spend $300 on a new sewing machine, $200 at a class, $60 on materials if we aren’t great at the end of the first class it can feel like a waste.” Those who shop at Scraplanta spend a fraction of what they would at traditional stores to get all the materials needed to try something new.

Scraplanta’s by-the-bag pricing for small items makes it easy to grab just what you need for any given project. Avid crafters and artists will relate to the frustration of having to buy packs containing large quantities of an item when they only need a few. This pricing system allows for greater flexibility and selection.

For creative reuse centers like Scraplanta, sourcing new materials and donations is not the problem. In fact, most are overflowing with donations, which is something that Dawkins saw play out time and again when she toured eight similar centers across the southeast from Richmond, VA to San Antonio, TX. She spoke with their directors, starting a group chat that has resulted in a sort of network of creative reuse stores where they can share their tips, tricks, and struggles.

Beyond the logistics of sorting through an ever-evolving selection of donations is the
mental block that sometimes accompanies endless organization. “I can’t sort and process everything in one day, one week, or one year. I just can’t. When I come at it with a mindset that it’s going to get sorted eventually, I can tackle it one box, one bag at a time.”

She has three employees and relies on the help of a team of dedicated volunteers to help manage the flow of items in the store. The crew works hard organizing and reorganizing all the shelves at Scraplanta. “It’s basically just constant reorganizing,” Dawkins said.

While patrons are allowed to bring in donations during regular business hours, larger
donations require an appointment to ensure enough staff members and volunteers are on hand to sort the materials dropped off. Many of the volunteers are professional organizers who feel so strongly about the mission of Scraplanta that they are willing to spend their days off hunkered down sorting boxes and bags full of beads, ribbon, paper, fabric, and more.

The idea for Scraplanta was born from a newspaper article that founder Susan Reu read about a similar reuse center and visiting the Scrap Exchange in Durham, NC. Meanwhile, Scraplanta board chair Melissa Wood had scoped out the storefront at Briarcliff Village before the pandemic, but when the world came to a halt so, too did the plans for the shop.

Dawkins met with Reu and was brought onto the team back in November 2021. In that
time, Dawkins established the business’ non-profit status, secured the physical space – which had sat empty for 25 years following the closure of an H&R Block – and opened their doors to retail a year later.

Last September, Dawkins coordinated with arts collective The Bakery to put on a
fundraiser for Scraplanta. The Revival Art Show featured works made from recycled and reimagined items, and all profits were used to open their physical space. Considering the impressive foot traffic, the community’s response, and the online buzz, it’s clear Scraplanta is answering an essential need.

Dawkins hopes Scraplanta can expand to more locations across the city to better serve
artists in those communities. So far, her model has proven to be a success. In addition to retail, Scraplanta also offers classes on making bags, cardboard sculptures, appliques, and skills such as beading.

At the moment, Dawkins said the shop is hoping someone will donate tables, chairs, and shelves to help in the neverending sorting and organization. She also wants artists to spread the word. “The only way we grow is through more people knowing about us.”

Scraplanta is located at 2130 Henderson Mill Road and is open varying hours Thursday through Sunday. Visit for more information and to register for classes.

Isadora Pennington is a freelance writer and photographer based in Atlanta. She is the editor of Sketchbook by Rough Draft, a weekly Arts newsletter.