By Lee Rennick
If you are doing any home remodeling or DIY projects, one of the things that you will say the minute you walk into Habitat’s ReStore is, “Why didn’t I come here first, that is just what I was looking for!” Rutherford County Habitat for Humanity wants to change your reaction.
“We want to become the place where those who are remodeling or doing DIY projects come first,” said Terri Schultz, Executive Director of Rutherford County Habitat for Humanity.
Rutherford County’s Habitat for Humanity ReStore is a warehouse filled with all kinds of home remodeling supplies, furniture, and housewares available at a fraction of what you will pay at a regular retailer. There are aisles of doors and windows, trim, plumbing supplies, electrical supplies, paint, tile, flooring, and much more. They also carry furniture, tabletop items, home decor, rugs, and art, to name some of the non-construction merchandise.
What makes ReStore so great for the remodeler is that it has a lot of reclaimed, close-out, and vintage items. When remodeling, one can donate all of their old cabinets, trim, doors, and lighting fixtures. And as they say, one man’s no longer used items are another man’s treasure. With the growing interest in keeping an historic feel when updating an older home, this is the prefect place to find some of those unique classic pieces, like a beautiful fireplace surround or fancy millwork.
As a matter of fact, donating old construction and household items is the best way that the community can help the ReStore.
“When the store first opened in 2003 at our first site on Samsonite,” said Schultz, “the ReStore had fewer donations and offered more items that Habitat purchased from discounters. But our return on investment was slim. We needed to increase our income from the store, so now, in the current store, 85% of what we sell is donated, and only 15% is purchased from discounters.”
Many local companies supply the ReStore with merchandise, including City Tile, Sledgecraft, General Mills, and Fleur. They have even been known to have the occasional truckload of art from Kirkland’s.
“We also get items from individuals,” added Schultz. “A lady just donated to us her dining room table and chairs, that she has never used. The table itself normally sells for close to $1,500, and that doesn’t count the chairs!”
They also have an area where they offer high end and one-of-a-kind merchandise by silent auction, like a table made from an old drum set.
ReStore is also great for those who like to do DIY projects. They have items like drawer knobs and glass replacement covers for light fixtures that might have multiple arms with a few broken shades. Or for the truly creative, there are all kinds of bits and pieces that can find a new home by being made into something completely different, like perhaps a vase made into a lamp or the drum table noted above.
“For a recent Boro Art Crawl,” said Schultz, “Teresa Johnson, who owns The Pottery Place, worked with some local artists and turned some of our products into works of art, and then showed them at the Crawl. We will eventually be selling those pieces in our store. One example is a set of window shades that when opened one way is Vincent Van Gogh’s Starry Night, and when you pull the cord and flip the blinds the other way, it changes to another of his paintings.”
One of the most important groups to whom ReStore offers goods is those who are on a tight budget, especially those who have purchased a home from Habitat for Humanity through their no-interest loan home buying program, for which they are famous thanks to Jimmy and Roslyn Carter.
“We want our homebuyers to know that you can have a fashionable and well cared-for home of your dreams on a very tight budget by purchasing at the ReStore,” noted Shultz.
As a matter of fact, Regina Harvey, who teaches Habitat’s Home Buyer Education classes through her financial education non-profit, Dominion Financial, tells homeowners-to-be all about the joys of shopping at the ReStore.
“We take them on a tour of the store,” said Harvey, who also serves as Habitat’s Development Specialist. “We tell them all about what the store has to offer, and that the quality of what we carry is the same as what they will find elsewhere, but because so much is donated, we can offer it at a lower cost to them.”
Net profits from the ReStore are applied to the operational costs of running the non-profit, so all donations made to build the homes and all payments for the homes that Habitat for Humanity builds goes toward that purpose.
Schultz is interested in getting the community into the store so they can do more. The more the public purchases at the ReStore, the more that the organization is able to reach out to both potential homeowners, and to businesses and organizations that can help to build Habitat for Humanity’s much-needed affordable homes. As a matter of fact, the organization has upgraded the quality of housing in a number of areas in the community by removing substandard housing and replacing it with quality homes for low-income families.
“There is no end of reasons for coming to the ReStore,” Schultz added. “For example, last year I made Christmas stockings for my kids, who now live away from home, filled with tools from the store so they would stop ‘borrowing’ mine.”
The ReStore is located at 850 Mercury Boulevard. It is open Monday through Saturday from 9:00 a.m. until 6:00 p.m., and closed on Sunday. For more information about Rutherford County Habitat for Humanity and the ReStore, go to www.rchfh.com.