It all began under the 62nd Street Bridge
In November 1999, the Pennsylvania Resources Council (PRC) founded Construction Junction (CJ) – Western Pennsylvania’s first nonprofit used and surplus building material retailer.
A neighborhood success!
By 2001 we had outgrown that space, and we opened in our current location in the East End in June 2002, where we have a large retail store open to the public 7 days a week. Due to the amazing support of the Pittsburgh area community (you!), we have experienced 16 years of ever growing numbers of donors and customers, and therefore in the amount of material diverted from landfill.
And the birth of a Pittsburgh phenomenon to fill the funding gap
Reuse on a large scale creates many overhead costs, from Worker’s Compensation Insurance to rent to supplies. The revenue from sales of donated items is only enough to pay for around 90% of the bills we have to pay to keep the store and warehouse going. In order to raise money to support the other 10% of our core running costs, we needed a fundraising idea. In 2007, at the Sharp Edge, a group of CJ supporters came up with the answer – and the Steel City Big Pour® was born. The Big Pour is a fantastic event, featuring tastes of the finest foods and craft beers from the Pittsburgh area, and live art by local artists. We organize and run the Big Pour ourselves – it’s our only fundraiser – and it’s held every September. The Big Pour generates enough revenue to cover that other 10% of our running costs, and is so successful that funds raised have also allowed us to make occasional improvements and undertake partnerships and community programming,
Extending the good
With continued assistance from PRC, and as a way of giving back to our neighborhood, CJ evolved into a regional resource, not only for reuse but also for recycling of a range of materials: glass, paper, cardboard, batteries, florescent bulbs, Freon appliances, and small scale scrap metal recycling. We also lease space to other reuse organizations: the Pittsburgh Center for Creative Reuse, ComputerReach, and FreeRide.
In more recent years, we have developed programming to share the good in our neighborhood. In 2010 we formed a partnership with Goodwill to provide employment and training opportunities for those with barriers to employment, and we’ve received two Goodwill Power of Work Awards as a result of our participation. In 2014, we began a partnership called Project Re_ that exposes university level architecture students to used materials while partnering with entry level construction trainees recently released from incarceration. Project Re_ focuses on building prototypes that incorporate reused materials, and that are designed to be replicated on a larger scale. The Project Re_ space within our building has won a local and a statewide AIA award.
Throughout its 16 year history, CJ has also received support and funding from the Heinz Endowment, the Forbes Funds, the Laurel Foundation, the Colcom Foundation, the RK Mellon Foundation, the Henry L. Hillman Foundation, and an anonymous foundation, as well as donations from private individuals.. And most of all, the support of our neighborhood. Thank you all!