Clever Octopus, a sustainable art supply store, shuts down after eight years

The Utah nonprofit organization posted on social media Friday that it is ‘permanently closed.’

(Francisco Kjolseth | Salt Lake Tribune file photo) Clever Octopus Creative Reuse Center in South Salt Lake — a cross between a craft store and a thrift store, seen here in January 2022 — announced its permanent closure on July 7, 2023.

The Utah nonprofit Clever Octopus Creative Reuse Center, which resold art and craft supplies to inspire “creativity and environmental consciousness,” has permanently closed, according to the organization’s website and an Instagram post shared Friday morning.

No reason was given for the closure. The Instagram post said: “Thank you for being so supportive of our nonprofit organization over the past 8 years and sharing your love of creative reuse with each other. We hope you continue on the ever-changing path of sustainability.”

The store is credited with being Utah’s first creative reuse center, repurposing unwanted and unused items so they didn’t end up in landfills. According to the group’s website, Clever Octopus has diverted over 232,000 pounds of waste during its eight years in operation.

In the nonprofit’s 2021 report, the group said it accepted nearly 102,000 pounds of diverted material that year — more than 42,000 pounds of diverted material donated by businesses and nearly 60,000 pounds of materials donated by individuals. Most of that was sold in the group’s store, with 1,146 pounds of material donated to 21 organizations in need.

It’s unclear if the store’s Octopod Mobile Outreach vehicle will also stop working, or what will happen to the group’s warehouse location. Representatives from Clever Octopus did not immediately respond for comment.

In a previous Instagram post from early May, the nonprofit stated that it was closed to the public, but open to nonprofits “by appointment only.” A group working to unionize the store’s staff has not posted on its Instagram account since last August.

Clever Octopus’ previous store location was in Murray, but the organization moved to its South Salt Lake location in January 2020.

Aside from selling art materials, such as paint brushes and fabric, the shop offered workshops and classes for adults and youth, grants for schools and teachers, and aid to local businesses through waste diversion partnerships — which also included donations from such entities as 3form and the Salt Palace Convention Center.

Owners Sheri Gibb and Jen Lopez met during a ceramics class at the University of Utah, and soon hatched the idea for the store.

In 2019, Kacy Huston, the store’s outreach coordinator at the time, said the store’s mascot went with its mission.

“Octopuses are really resourceful,” Huston said. “They can change their skin color to blend in with their surroundings. They can use different debris in the ocean as shelter. We’re trying to be clever octopuses, thereby being resourceful with what we already have.”

This story is developing and will be updated.