Habitat for Humanity Fresno County is opening a ReStore in Fresno – its second location in the area.
The nonprofit home improvement store and donation center sells new and gently used furniture, appliances, home accessories and building materials at discount prices. It is a DIYers dream and a handyman or woman’s thrift shop.
“You can pick up things that people think are junk,” said customer Teena Sears of Clovis, who likes to repurpose metal and wood shelves. “It’s a great way to reuse items that are thrown away.” And it’s for a good cause, Sears said. “I think it works for everybody.”
The proceeds from ReStore are used to fund the construction of new homes for Fresno County families. Record sales at the 8-year-old store in Clovis and an aggressive goal by Habitat’s new executive director to serve 10 times the number of families from last year led to the search for a second ReStore location.
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You can pick up things that people think are junk. It’s a great way to reuse items that are thrown away.
Teena Sears, ReStore customer
Construction is underway to transform an 8,300-square-foot storefront on the southwest corner of West Shaw and Brawley avenues to hold shelves of paint, light fixtures, nails and wood. Habitat officials hope to be open in a month.
With the dissolution of redevelopment agencies and less funding for affordable housing projects “we have had to be creative about how we underwrite our mission to build safe and affordable homes and opportunities,” said director Matthew Grundy. “The ReStore has been key in that effort.”
Habitat opened its first ReStore in 2008 with help from the city of Clovis, which donated 2,000 square feet of space to the agency in the former Swiss Colony Winery on Clovis Avenue, south of Ashlan. The store was open on Saturdays only.
Two years later, ReStore moved a mile and a half north to its current 14,000-square-foot building on Railroad Avenue, behind the Lowe’s Home Improvement store at the corner of Shaw and Clovis avenues. Habitat recently signed a lease to remain there until 2020. It is open Mondays through Saturdays.
The store concept is simple. Businesses, contractors and residents donate unwanted or excess materials – pipes, cabinets, office chairs, ceiling fans, even pianos and metal fireplaces. ReStore resells them. Doorknobs are $3 and up. Metal brackets are $2. Doors start at $10. Gallons of recycled paint from Sacramento-based Visions Paint is $15 a gallon.
It’s a treasure hunt. If you’re coming for a particular item, you might not find that but will find four or five other items.
Torin Blount, ReStore director
“It’s a treasure hunt,” said Torin Blount, ReStore director. “If you’re coming for a particular item, you might not find that but will find four or five other items.”
The goal in the beginning was to bring in enough money to cover business expenses and the cost of building at least one house. A Habitat house and land costs about $150,000.
“We’ve exceeded that … we’re closer to three homes that we can support,” Blount said.
Grundy added that ReStore’s annual gross sales have increased 25 percent since 2013.
Then there’s the environmental factor. Last year alone, ReStore, which also serves as an electronic waste drop-off location, kept 575 tons of rubble out of landfills.
“We’re at a point where the ReStore needs to expand to serve more families” not just through housing, but also by creating jobs and putting dollars back into the local economy, said Grundy who joined Habitat a year ago. His goal is to serve at least 100 families this year through home construction or the agency’s other programs, which include wheelchair ramp construction and exterior home rehabilitation.
The Clovis store has seven staff members and is looking to add two more positions. Another four to five people are needed to work at the new Fresno location. Many staff members come from various work programs such as CalWORKS, the state welfare program; AARP’s senior employment program; community service workers and volunteers.
The new store will have more technology compared to the Clovis location, giving customers a visual look at what Habitat does in the community. It also has air conditioning, which the Clovis location does not, Blount said. And unlike the Clovis store, most of the materials will be inside the building because there is no room outside for storage or display.
“We’re very excited to have this location that will give us access to the west side of the community,” he said.
Meanwhile, Blount and Grundy are working on opening an online ReStore.
While ReStore donors come from all over the county, about 90 percent of its customers live within two miles of the store, according to a demographic study Habitat conducted.
“Now, having something about 20 to 25 minutes away from us is definitely going to attract a different segment of our population,” Blount said.