Some of it came from someone's attic, while other materials may be leftover from a local factory.

If Nicole McGee gets her wish, it will all be repurposed into artwork and useful everyday products.

"Upcycling is about looking at things differently," says McGee. "It's also about diverting waste materials. It's sustainability, as well as creativity, as well as community coming together."

Mc Gee's Upcyle Part Shop carries everything from colored pencils and paint to skeleton keys and old industrial sampling tills -- all ready to be re-imagined into something else.

"If you see beauty and potential in a plastic bottle, then where can we find value around us. in our homes, in our neighborhoods, among our neighbors, in our communities?" says McGee.

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After doing years of nonprofit work, she opened the shop in 2014 as an art supply store at thrift store prices.

It's a model that's perfect for local schools struggling with shrinking budgets.

"What we have often in an urban school district is NOT the supplies," says Sean Wheeler, campus coordinator for Design Lab High School. "We live in an industrial city that has tons of industrial waste… And to have someone who collects these wonderful objects.. to bring it to my students and to show them that the things we walk by that we see people discarding could actually be treasures."

McGee also performs outreach programs within the community. "Crafting with Cops" is a program designed to bring community members together with local police to make something fun and easy with their hands.

"There's something humanizing about people playing with little puffballs and string," says Mc Gee. "They have something in common in that moment, and that’s a good place to start broader discussions."

Business and corporations also hire Upcycle Parts Shop to do team-building workshops for employees.

"As adults, we forget that that kid is still in us," says McGee. "There’s a chance for people who have a power differential in their work lives, to come together and create something and kind of let all of that go for a little while."

For those in the neighborhood, there is always a free craft of the day.

Saturdays are open studio days. Residents of the 44103 zip code can come into the shop on those days and have access to nearly all of the materials for free. For non-residents, open studio Saturdays are just $5.

For McGee and her crew it's ultimately about creating a neighborhood space and stoking their neighbors' creativity.

"I know a lot of the people who live and work here very intimately. I've grown up around these people," says employee David Van Horn. "A lot of these people have raised me and yelled at me when I was a kid! And now it's my turn to help."

"We think that there’s something powerful that happens," says McGee. "When we come together and make things with our hands, it takes away the ways and the reasons that we don’t talk to one another."

For more information on Upcycle Parts Shop, visit

WKYC and Fresh Water Cleveland are media collaborators. Look for more Fresh Water Cleveland stories on WKYC in the weeks to come.