March: One Man’s Trash is Another Man’s Treasure

Rylee McOuat

In a day and age where you can buy practically anything online brand new, practices such as upcycling are not often a person’s first thought when exploring options for furniture and decorative pieces. Upcycling can be defined as the transformation of various repurposeable materials to create new products, a process that Shorty’s Upcycling Studio based in Thompson, Manitoba utilizes to create one-of-a-kind pieces for its clients.

Created and owned by Don Glenn, or “Shorty” as he is popularly known by, Shorty’s Upcycling Studio was a business that Glenn didn’t see coming. “I had been a mechanic for 16 years but in 2015 I was diagnosed with a skin condition and was unable to continue working as a mechanic.” Shorty, who also has depression, explains that he was looking for a way to provide for his family while doing work that impacted him positively.

The idea for the business was one that presented itself during the time that renovations were being done on Shorty’s house. Using fence boards that were laying around from a fence brought down the previous year, Shorty made a bathroom vanity, a project that Shorty’s brother commented Shorty should continue doing on a business level.

“I’ve always had a passion for building and fixing things.” says Shorty who grew up learning and assisting in carpentry work alongside his parents during the renovations made on their various homes and through jobs as a teenager.

The process of requesting a piece done by Shorty often takes place over the Shorty’s Upcycling Studio Facebook page, with advertising for his company mostly being done through word of mouth and social media outlets. Shorty will then discuss with the client about the specifics of what it is they’re looking for and get to work on their piece.

Shorty, who has partnered with various Thompson business owners of six different scrap piles, often pulls inspiration for a piece from just about anything. The relationships he has established with local companies makes creating the pieces all the more unique as Shorty’s business is essentially entirely locally funded in terms of materials. “I think they also appreciate the fact that some of their waste is being taken care of by our company, since Thompson’s waste disposal system is a bit overwhelmed.” comments Shorty.

Thompson, which is a city recognized as the “Hub of the North” because of its regional trade and service centre of Northern Manitoba, has been a great location for Shorty’s growing business. “It’s been a great place to do this type of business here since the type of customers we see can usually appreciate the quality of work I produce.” Shorty says.

On a more environmental note, upcycling is widely praised for its environmentally friendly status and sustainable outreach. Removal of what can be considered waste materials can be a difficult task in smaller communities such as Thompson but waste generation and removal is a recognized issue worldwide. “I’m trying to do my part for the environment by re-imagining, re-designing, and re-inventing these items into functional, artistic pieces,” says Shorty, “We are helping the environment while enriching people’s lives at the same time, and that’s a pretty great feeling.”

For more information on Shorty’s Upcycling Studio or to request a piece, visit their Facebook page, Shorty’s Upcycling Studio or Instagram @shortysupcyclingstudio3969.

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