How Habitat ReStores operate for a good cause

Habitat for Humanity ReStores are nonprofit home improvement stores and donation centers that sell new and gently used furniture, appliances, home accessories, building materials and more to the public at a fraction of the retail price.

Each ReStore is independently owned and operated by the local Habitat, and proceeds are used to help build strength, stability and self-reliance through shelter in local communities and around the world.

An awful lot goes on at a ReStore, from before the doors open for the day to that moment when the staff and volunteers turn out the lights on another successful day. Take a look at just one day at a Habitat ReStore.

How Habitat ReStores operate for a good cause, Habitat for Humanity

9 a.m. The staff works to make sure the store is ready for the day. The registers are set, a little cleaning up takes place, and some items are priced to sell quickly. The truck has already left to pick up donated items.

Staff and volunteers accept gently used items from the public. Sometimes, items go right out on the sales floor; other times, items need a little TLC before they’re ready.

Store manager Ann Congdon reviews the special sales she has planned. It’s going to be a good day, she says.

10 a.m. Doors open. A customer waits outside, ready to pounce on an item for sale.

10:03 a.m. The first donations of the day arrive.

10:05 a.m. More customers enter the store. The day’s first customer walks out with his purchase.

Ann talks about the “mission wall” at the store, a display that highlights Habitat’s mission and work all over the world. The many hats and t-shirts displayed, all donated by a local volunteer, represent builds in multiple locations. “How cool is that?” she enthuses.

Shoppers wander through the store, checking out what might be new. A few check out office chairs that are for sale. Nearby, a woman measures building materials to see if they fit her needs.

Marietta resident Kenny James says he tries to make it to the ReStore regularly. Today, he’s got house shutters in his cart. “I picked these up for 5,” he says. “You can’t beat the price.”

James also has picked up a few other things. Sometimes there’s an item that makes him say, “I can do something with that.” The prices are so good, he says, that “if you see something, you have to grab it.”

10:50 a.m. A customer purchases a door. Others are looking at windows. A sink leaves the store.

Ann works to hang pictures and paintings. One shopper says to another, “That’s a pretty good deal right there.”

The store’s inventory is constantly changing, depending on what comes in and what goes out. Things already look a bit different than they did earlier this morning. Regular customers know the drill. “We have people in here two or three times a week,” says Vernita Gibson, assistant store manager.

12:25 p.m. The truck returns with its first round of donation pickups for the day. The staff is expecting six couches by day’s end. This load has a sectional couch, kitchen table and cabinetry, all ready to be picked up by a future customer.

Items like these that come in on the truck often can be put out for sale shortly after arriving.

12:30 p.m. A lovely china cabinet leaves the store at a great price, and volunteers help load it into the customer’s vehicle.

When a large item like the cabinet is sold, another takes its place, and the “room” designs the fill up the ReStore are rearranged to highlight a new look.

A customer points to one item and tells a friend, “It’s cute; 10 bucks.”

Kevin Taylor, a ReStore employee, sees the potential in what they sell. And when a customer can add their own touch to a purchase or give something new life through a new coat of paint or creative DIY project, “it’s personal,” he says. “They’ve made it their own.”

3:30 p.m The ReStore truck comes back from its second run. The truck door opens, and volunteers unload a grill, table and more cabinetry.

Wayne Elliott, a ReStore employee who drives the truck, says the trips consistently bring in good items. “Very rarely do we have to turn things down,” he says, noting that the trips often net more items than expected.

“Nine times out of 10 we get more than we bargained for,” he says. “You don’t get bored, that’s for sure.”

5:40 p.m. Staff begin to turn off the lights, and end-of-the day cleaning begins as the last of today’s customers make their way out of the store.

6 p.m. Closing time!

Ready to see what you might find? Locate your local ReStore. Stop by today to shop, volunteer or donate!