Frequently Asked Questions




Why Is The Bower A Reuse & Repair Centre and not a charity Op-Shop?

We do sell pre-loved goods, just like a second hand store, but we're so much more!

The Bower is an entire resource centre for sustainable living, and unique in it's offering. Key to our mission of diverting landfill is the promotion of a Reuse & Repair Culture. By promoting this culture we can extend the lifecycle of a product, which has two great outcomes.

1.The product doesn't end up in landfill contributing to the methane build up and the early closure of landfill sites around Sydney.

2. By refurbishing the chair/desk/electrical item for continued use, a replacement product is not required, minimising the carbon footprint of the individual

We practice what we preach. Every Monday our electrician tests and repairs common electrical goods with resale value. Everyday our members repair, refurbish and resurrect furniture and industria found for sale in The Bowerhaus, including items repaired by our staff. Our entire building is refurbished, repaired and fitted out with salvaged building materials.


Who Operates / Runs The Bower?

As a cooperative the members (the community) own and ultimately control the assets of The Bower. The big picture is overseen by a Board of Directors, who employ the General Manager, who in turn employs the rest of the team; Staff & Member Coordinator, Customer liaison Officer, Truck Driver, electrician, librarian and Sales Team extraordinaire,all of whom carry out the daily running of the co-operative.

Members and volunteers provide invaluable support in daily maintenance of The Bower and it's stock. We work with numerous local programs like Green Reserve, Community Service Orders and Work for the Dole.

We are not a council initiative, but we would not be able to achieve our goals without council support across Sydney.


How Does The Bower Obtain Its Goods?

At our discretion, we accept donations at our retail store, arrange collections from donors including small business, salvage and demolition, charitable organisations and individuals.

We also trawl the local council household clean-ups -  they're a convenient solution for residents, but everything you put on the curb goes to landfill, when we could reuse, repair and resell it, extending the lifecycle to minimise it's carbon footprint. So think about contacting us before you book a collection with your local council.


What Resources Does The Bower Collect?

We take most household goods  in good, reusable condition. Furniture, electrical appliances*, whitegoods*, bric-a-brac, office items, architectural hardware including fireplaces, stained glass windows, and doors to name some of the items.

For various public health and OH&S reasons and/or space constraints we cannot collect everything. Mattresses, kid's items like cots and prams, and clothes are not items we can accept. If you're looking to donate these items please check here for a list of common organisations and stores who might be able to help. Call for a current list of those items we may not, at the time, be able tocollect. We do however have a list of other options that might be useful.

Please note that as The Bower is a centre for Reuse we are unable to take outdated technology for recycling. The electronics we do  take are at the discretion of our staff, but we promise if we can't take it, we can give you 3 referrals to people who can, just contact us


Where Does The Money Go?

Sales help cover operational costs, so we can continue to divert resources from landfill. We are a registered environmental charity and a not-for-profit organisation, that means any excess funds (we wish!) go directly to the running of the centre and providing greater service to the community and local employment. Currently funds are absorbed mostly by operations and insurances. Donations to The Bower are tax deductible and can be made here.


Will you buy my unwanted fridge/Couch/Desk/Collection of Billy Joel?

It's not that we don't appreciate your pre-loved goods, or the sonorous tones of Billy Joel, but as an environmental charity, we exist to deal with the bits and bobs that other commercially operated second hand stores don't seem to want.

So we don't buy goods, or exchange, or barter. We accept, collect and refer donations.

You should think of us as being like The Salvos - except our religion is Reuse & Repair to improve the environmental sustainability of Sydney.

There are plenty of second hand stores listed in the yellowpages if you need to exchange goodies for cash.


Is The Bower just a Second hand shop?


Currently with the support of 9 councils we run a Reuse Referral Service, to help customers locate other reuse organisations who might accept goods the Bower is unable to accept.

Previously we've developed a line of remanufactured products from discarded productsand materials. So far we have made saucepan pot racks from bicycle wheels; light shades fromvenetian blinds and coat hangers; light stands from snow skis and motorbike helmets; trestletables with legs from old doors and sofa frames; lamps from ex-army circuit boards; coffeetables from bike rims and cranks.

These days we support innovative designs by our members in The Bowerhaus - drop by for a look.

We also visit primary and secondary schools, working with students to create EcoSnap Shots (environmental audits) of their schools, as part of a Sustainable Schools consortium with S.C.R.A.P.


What Is Special About The Building?

The Bower building is an excellent example of sustainable building practice in itself. Weoperate from the first strawbale building in Sydney, a 258sqm passive solar design warehouse.600 strawbales make up the ‘infill’ walls, and the insulation is superb. Otherwise, the buildingused fully recycled materials in its construction: load-bearing posts recovered from demolitionsites, roof trusses from an RPAH refurbishment, 5,000 secondhand bricks, second hand roofsheeting, and all doors and windows were salvaged from so-called ‘waste’ on Sydney streets.


Does The Bower Practice What It Preaches?

My Lordy, we do. Nearly every fixture and fitting you see In the centre Is reused. Our till,computers, phones, fax, photocopier, printer, fridge, microwave, kettle, staff amenities,filing, shelving, display cabinets, tools and equipment, etc have all been rescued from a trip tothe tip. We use our rain water tank for washing, we recycle what we are able to for exampleour scrap metal to a recycler. And there are plans to also reduce our carbon emissions furtherthrough recycling and composting more of our waste. We employ local people, many of whomwalk or cycle to work.


Are There Benefits In Being A Member?

Of course!

While all patrons are welcome to browse and buy second hand goods and refer to books in the Eco-library, only members can borrow books, magazines and DVDs.

Members are sent an email newsletter, normally once a month, advising what unusual things are in store. They may vote on changes to the constitution, electing the Board of Directors and steering the direction of the enterprise.

Members are entitled to borrow books from our wide ranging catalogue on sustainable practice in our Eco-Library

Members receive a 10% discount on all purchases (excluding Consignment/Bowerhaus items and prophire) upon presentation of their membership card.

Members who complete the equivalent of 8 hours volunteer work over a 12 month period are known as 'extended members' and are entitled to a 20% discount on all purchases (except Consignment/Bowerhaus items).

Extended members are also invited to sell restored goods through The Bowerhaud and have access to the workshops (after completing competency, OH&S tests etc).

Both Bower and Alfalfa House members get 10% off any purchase made from both coops!


Can I Pay With Something Other Than Cash?

Yes. We have EFTPOS facilities for Bankcard, Mastercard and VisaCard transactions. We accept cheques - with 2 other forms of identification. We have a 'Hold' policy of 20% down and collection within 3 days. We have also a special Props Hire service (see below), where goods are hired for 125% of their value.


Does The Bower Deliver?

Yes, we can deliver items with our 2 tonne truck. We deliver to the same zones noted above for'collections' on those same days. Zone 2 is $25, with Zones 1, 3 & 4 being $35 and $50 for Items deemed Extra Heavy or Awkward by Bower staff. We do not deliver (or collect) up or downflights of stairs. For the same OH&S reasons we do not deliver big awkward items like pianos orlarge sheets of glass. We cannot set a delivery time but the truck driver can call ahead with anapproximate delivery time on the day. We have the contact details of friendly, economicalremovals services for times (or areas) when we cannot help.


Can I Hire Items for Use as a Prop in A Stage, TV or Film Production?

Yes, we have a props hire facility. It requires a 100% security deposit (the marked price of theItem) plus 25% hire. This is valid for up to 1 month, with longer periods on negotiation. The100% (original item price) will be direct deposited into the hirer's account within 2 weeks thereturn of undamaged goods. The total buying price must be $100 to be available for prop hire.There is a minimum that the total items Prop buyers for productions, ranging from the Matrix,Star Wars and Little Fish to product commercials to the local theatre company, come to theBower looking for that unique hard-to-find gizmo.


Can You Answer My Other Questions?

We'll do our best. Contact us.


Last Updated on Thursday, 22 September 2011 03:17