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Frequently Asked Questions...

These are just a few of the FAQ we get at The Idea Store. If you have any other questions, feel free to reach out by phone, email, or social media. 

1. What is creative reuse?

Creative reuse, also known as upcycling, means taking non-traditional materials and items and using them for your arts, crafts, and educational projects. Think transforming coffee tins into cool planters, using old paint swatches for a self-portrait, making puzzle pieces into earrings…get inventive! Creative reuse keeps good materials out of the landfill and gives them new life.


2. Where does the money go?

The Idea Store is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. All profits go towards supporting our mission of fostering creativity, education, environmental stewardship, and community through creative reuse.


In practical terms, this means we’re spending it on essentials like rent and utilities, and on staff who accept/process your material donations, coordinate volunteers, answer your questions, and ring up your purchases. 

3. Why do I need an appointment to donate?

Unlike bigger donation centers, our storage space is small! This means our intake shelves fill up quickly. Taking donations by appointment means we stay up to fire code, which helps us avoid fines (and worse).


Additionally, almost all of our donations are handled by one staff member. Our appointment system makes sure they have a safer workplace.


Bonus: if you have a smaller donation of one grocery bag or less, you can bring it without an appointment during regular donation hours!


4. Where do you get all your stuff?

Everything in the store is donated by community members and local businesses.

5. Is everyone who works here a volunteer?

We have a small staff to run registers, process donations, coordinate volunteers, keep the bills paid, etc. 

BUT we depend on our volunteers to sort donations, package and price items for the sales floor, help at special events, and many other tasks.

6. Do I have to wear a mask?

For the time being, masks are not required, but they're strongly recommended. 

We have a number of elderly, disabled, and immunocompromised staff, volunteers, and customers, and wearing a mask during your shopping trip will help you protect them! 

7. Why do I have to take donations to the back now?

Our cashiers are busy ringing up purchases, answering customer questions, pricing items for the store, fielding phone calls, and many other tasks. It was too much work for them, and for our intake team, to keep running back and forth. It also made for a much longer checkout time and confusion as to which items at the register were/were not for sale, which was frustrating for customers and staff alike.


Donating at the back door is nice and easy; you don’t even have to get out of your car! Just call us at (217) 352-7878 and we’ll come and collect your stuff.

8. Can I hang this flyer up on your community board?

Probably! We review everything that goes up on the community board, so give it to the cashier and we’ll hang it for you. If the board is very full, we prioritize flyers for upcoming art-related events.

9. Can you hold this item for me?

We make occasional exceptions, but we don’t usually hold unpaid items. If you see something on our social media that you just can’t live without, you can call us and pay over the phone for items over $10.

10. Do you take medicine bottles/egg cartons/other items we used to take?

We no longer take some items that we used to, for a variety of reasons. Sometimes we can’t take something for safety reasons, or we just have way too much of it. If you have questions about an item, please give us a call or email

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