“What kind of items does the Bower collect?”
The Bower accepts household furniture, bikes, some electronic appliances, small quantities of building materials, bric-a-brac, kitchenware and books. For a full overview of items we do and don’t accept, click here. Please note that all donations are accepted at the discretion of the Bower staff, often depending on space and resources available. Please see our collections page for more info.
“How do I contact the Bower?”
Please email: firstname.lastname@example.org – send a photo of the item you wish to have collected and include your name, contact details and suburb.
“Why doesn’t the Bower take certain items?”
In some cases there are legal and sanitary regulations that prevent the Bower from accepting certain goods, such as baby and children’s items including strollers, cots and care seats. Other items, such as washing machines and dishwashers, are unable to be tested by the Bower. We also cannot accept mattresses or furniture made from MDF or chipboard.
“What if the Bower won’t accept my items?”
The Bower has a database with over 1,000 organisations listed that may take those items. They will refer you to the most appropriate organisation for your item. Key examples are mattresses, fabric and haberdashery items and excess building materials. The Bower receives no kickbacks or funding from these organisations. We cannot guarantee that they will take your items, but we are always updating and checking our databases to ensure the information we give out is as accurate and relevant as possible.
“Can I donate in store?”
Yes. If your unwanted items are small enough to fit into your car, you can take them directly to the Bower.
“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 its offering. Key to our mission of diverting landfill is the promotion of a reuse and repair culture. By promoting this culture we can extend the life cycle of a product which has two great outcomes. 1.The product doesn’t end up in landfill. 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 practise what we preach, Each week our electrician tests and repairs electrical goods with resale value. Every day our members and staff repair, refurbish and resurrect found furniture and industrial items for sale. 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 employs the General Manager, who in turn employs the rest of the team. They carry out the daily running of the Bower. Members and volunteers provide invaluable support in daily maintenance of the Bower and its stock. We work with numerous local programs like 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 of goods at our retail store and arrange collections from donors including small business, salvage and demolition, charitable organisations and individuals. We collect what we can and reuse, repair and resell it, extending its life cycle and minimising its 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, architectural hardware including fireplaces, stained glass windows and doors to name just 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 we can provide a list of well-known organisations and stores who might be able to help. Please note that as the Bower is a centre for reuse we are unable to take outdated technology for recycling. Some electronics we do take but this is at the discretion of our staff. We promise that if we can’t take it, we can give you referrals to people who can.
“Where does the money go?”
Sales help cover operational costs so that we can continue to divert resources from landfill. We are a registered environmental charity and a not-for-profit organisation, which means that any excess funds (we wish!) go directly to the running of the centre and providing greater service to the community and to 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 Yellow Pages if you need to exchange goods for cash.
“Is The Bower just a second hand shop?”
No! Currently with the support of 21 councils we run a Collection and Rehoming Service to help customers locate other reuse organisations who might accept goods that The Bower is unable to accept. We have developed a line of in-house re-manufactured products from discarded products and materials. The Bower also run a range of workshops to promote Reuse and Repair. We hold workshops in Recycled Art, basic carpentry, Furniture Restoration and Repair, Introductory Upholstery, Furniture Painting, Mosaics, and our weekly Repair Café. We believe that educating people to look at their items in a new way and giving them the tools to renovate, upcycle or refurbish items that may be seen as waste will have a positive impact on the amount of ‘waste’ going into landfill.
“What is special about the Marrickville Bower building?”
The Marrickville Bower building is an excellent example of sustainable building practice in itself. We operate from the first straw bale building in Sydney, a 258sqm passive solar design warehouse.600 straw bales make up the ‘infill’ walls, and the insulation is superb. The building used fully recycled materials in its construction: load-bearing posts recovered from demolition sites, roof trusses from an RPAH refurbishment, 5,000 second hand bricks, second hand roof sheeting, and all doors and windows were salvaged from so-called ‘waste’ on Sydney streets.
“Does The Bower practice what it preaches?”
Indeed we do! Nearly every fixture and fitting you see in the centre is reused. Our cash register, 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 to the tip. We use our rain water tank for washing up and we recycle whatever we are able to. For example our scrap metal goes to a recycler. There are plans to reduce our carbon emissions even further by recycling and composting more of our waste.
Are there benefits in being a member?
Of course! While all patrons are welcome to browse and buy second hand goods and Bower manufactured items, only Members may vote on changes to the constitution, elect the Board of Directors and steer the direction of the enterprise. Members also have access to our ‘Rent-a-bench’ workshop space in Redfern and are also entitled to become one of our consignors who are invited to sell restored goods in The Bower’s shopfronts. Find out about becoming a Bower Member now.
“Can I pay with something other than cash?”
Yes. We have EFTPOS facilities for Bankcard, Mastercard and VisaCard transactions. We have a ‘Hold’ policy of 50% down and collection within 3 days.
“Does The Bower deliver?”
Yes, we can deliver items with our 2 tonne truck. We deliver to a wide range of suburbs, divided into zones. Contact us to find out which zone your suburb is in. Zone 2 is $25, Zones 1, 3 & 4 are $35. Items deemed extra heavy or awkward by Bower staff or multiple items are $50, regardless of zone. We do not deliver (or collect) up or down flights of stairs. For the same OH&S reasons we do not deliver big awkward items like pianos or large sheets of glass. We cannot set a delivery time but the truck driver can call ahead with an approximate delivery time on the day. We have the contact details of friendly, economical removal services for times (or areas) when we cannot help.