Dallas art supply thrift store Pegasus Creative Reuse diverts treasure from the landfill
Editor’s note: This story is part of an ongoing series for Arts Access examining the health and well-being of our North Texas arts economy.
Bridget Smith beamed as she walked to the front counter of art supply thrift store Pegasus Creative Reuse in Oak Cliff.
“I have buttons for you!” she exclaimed.
Smith, who’s a middle school geography teacher, wore button earrings and carried a bag full of hundreds of buttons you might find on a t-shirt.
Pegasus Creative Reuse is an art supply thrift store. What does that mean? Let’s say a group of friends decides to make their own outfits for the upcoming Beyoncé concert in September. They can bring in the leftover glitter, rhinestones and fabric in exchange for “Pegasus points” that can be used for new supplies for future projects.
“So think of it as everything that you could find at a Hobby Lobby and Michael's and an antique store. But in one great community space and at more affordable prices,” said co-owner Dorothy Villarreal, who opened the store in August with her partner, Ernie Diaz.
The inside of Pegasus is like a hoarder’s treasure trove. Think fabric, yarn, rolls of butcher paper, bulletin boards, vinyl, paint, cardstock, scrapbooking supplies. There are even rental stations where customers can use a 3-D printer, a Cricut machine and an AccuCut die-cutting machine, which can cost hundreds of dollars.
Visitors can get supplies for about half what they would cost at big-box retailers. Villarreal is the daughter of a teacher, so she knows how expensive it can be for educators to keep their classrooms stocked. That’s why the store offers a teacher’s discount, and most items in the store sell for about $7.
While Pegasus is one of the only centers of its kind in Dallas, other creative reuse spaces have popped up across North Texas, such as The Welman Project in Fort Worth and Untrash Creative Reuse in Richardson. It’s also happening in other upcycling-friendly cities like Portland, Ore., and Philadelphia.
The store isn’t just a hub for the community, it’s also a way to make art more financially accessible and to reduce waste. At the end of the year, Pegasus will tally up how many pounds of art supplies were saved from the landfill.
Smith, who invited two teacher friends along with her, was excited when she first heard about the store. She’s committed to “save the planet a little bit at a time,” she said.
“I just know how much of our clothing with fast fashion just gets thrown into landfills after a couple of uses, which is why I like to do vintage clothing.”
Smith set up a store account with co-owner Diaz, who weighed Smith’s hefty bag of buttons to calculate the number of Pegasus points she’ll receive – 16 pounds equals 16 Pegasus points - the most a customer had received so far that day, Villarreal noted.
“It makes me feel like we're doing our bit to help divert really great, useful things out of the landfill and into the minds and hearts and minds of people that can do something really wonderful with it,” Villarreal said.
She also wants to work with customers to make prices accessible to all.
“If we have people coming in that are like ‘Hey, we really, really want this, but it's kind of tight right now,’ we'll work with you because that's what really matters to us.”
Villarreal said even the business hours, from 4-8 p.m. Tuesday-Friday and 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday-Sunday, are meant to make the store more accessible.
“We all know how much it sucks whenever you get out of school, you get out of work and you have to race somewhere because it closes at 5 or 5:30,” she said.
Friends Gissell Rodriguez and Carly Mack wandered into the store because they liked the design of the storefront sign. Rodriguez, who crochets in her spare time, looked through the yarn.
Meanwhile, Mack – who is a graphic designer – found a Ray Charles record she wanted to buy.
“I like looking at old records for design inspiration, and it’s good to listen to sometimes,” Mack said.
Like Rodriguez and Mack, other community members are being drawn to the store. Booker T. Washington High School for the Visual and Performing Arts and The Oak Cliff Ladies Club have already reached out about hosting events at the space.
Pegasus takes co-owners Villarreal and Diaz back to their roots.
“Growing up in the [Rio Grande] Valley, always being from an immigrant family, like the idea of reduce, reuse, recycle is just very natural to us,” Villarreal said.
Some of her fondest memories were growing up in Mexico and crafting on the porch with all the women in her family.
“My grandmother taught me how to needlepoint. My mom taught me how to paint. One of the things that I really treasure about the experience of being able to make things is, is the feeling that I can author my own life.”
That’s a feeling she hopes to spread in Dallas.
“We have our roots here,” Villarreal said. “So it felt really important to do something that was going to help foster this place that we wanted to have. But it's also going to help foster things for a better future for us all.”
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