New Habitat ReStore off to a great start

May 7, 2014   ·   0 Comments

By Tabitha Wells – March, saw the return to Orangeville of a Habitat for Humanity ReStore that provides affordable products for home renovations and outfitting through the re-sale of new or gently used items. The ReStore is one branch of what Habitat for Humanity does, which includes creating affordable homes for low-income families.

“We’ve always been looking at building another home in Orangeville, but what we wanted to do was start with the ReStore to have some form of presence here first,” said Sharron Riley-Persson, Director of Marketing, Communications & Resource Development for Habitat for Humanity Wellington Dufferin Guelph.

“Orangeville is such a vibrant, growing community that we thought it would be great to have a ReStore here.”

While there was previously a ReStore in Orangeville several years ago, it was not under the Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph branch. The town was assigned to their branch not too long ago, and they decided that Orangeville was in need of a ReStore and a larger impact from Habitat for Humanity.

“We just felt that it’s a growing town, and it’s sort of at the end of the area that we cover,” said Ms. Riley-Persson. “Orangeville is going to be a very important area for us, to build homes and obviously to bring the community a ReStore, so it was a natural choice for us.”

The March 1 grand opening of the store at the top of First Street, next door to Fred’s Tire, saw a record high for sales at $10,000 throughout the day.

Since then, the flow of customers has continued to be steady, helping get the ReStore off to a strong start.

“The first day was just fantastic,” she said. “It was filled with people, and we still see a constant stream of people coming in. We seem to get a lot of antiques here as well, so we’re pretty pleased with that. It’s always a community that’s filled with unique products and people.”

The store collects new and gently used home materials from around the community and resells the product for between 40 to 90 percent lower than retail value.

Donations come through individuals or stores looking to empty out some product. The ReStore provides pick up and removal of the items from homes, making it more convenient on donors to make sure the product gets there.

Recently, the store began to carry gently used bikes, a feature launched by a generous donation from Jeff Lemon, owner of Cycling Elements in Orangeville.

Mr. Lemon donated five refurbished bikes, which were sold the first day they were in the store.

“Over the last two years my store has been open, I found that a lot of people kept coming in and asking if I knew of anywhere they could take their bikes,” said Mr. Lemon.

“I was looking around and when the ReStore opened this year, they seemed like a good fit. They were eager and willing to take the bicycles.

“They seem to be non-partisan – they definitely want to help everybody – and it seemed like a great place to take them.”

In university, he did something similar through their small campus bookstore. They would collect bikes that couldn’t be sold to students, restore them, and at Christmas would donate them to Big Brothers and Big Sisters.

“We got to hand over a bike that still had life in it and provided a second chance as a safe, functioning bicycle for people who really needed them,” said Mr. Lemon.

“So that’s why I was happy to give some time and make it work so that whoever was the person to buy the bike, they will have a fully functional, safe bike to ride around town.”

Along with the items that they sell at the ReStore, Habitat for Humanity also has a vibrant e-waste and recycling program, to help keep electronic waste and scrap metal out of the dumps and sending it to places where it can be taken care of in a more environmentally friendly manner.

“Last year alone in Guelph, we recycled almost 170,000 pounds of e-waste and over 220,000 pounds of salvage material; they were all kept away from landfill sites and we were really proud of that,” said Ms. Riley-Persson.

“The e-waste is not shipped to third world countries. We have an agreement with a government-approved company that takes the e-waste, recycles it and repurposes it so it never leaves the country.”

All funds raised through the ReStore and collections go towards Habitat for Humanity’s main purpose – to provide affordable home ownership to lower income families, helping get them on their feet and get away from the need to spend their lives renting.

All the revenue that is generated goes directly to the building costs, instead of being filtered through multiple departments before leaving the remainder to the projects.

As far as the ReStore’s future in Orangeville, Ms. Riley-Persson said she feels it’s going to continue to be successful and that people seem to be on board with spending their money for a good cause.

“I think for the community, it’s going to bring a value-driven shopping experience to the people here,” she said.

“It’s new, it’s different and I think the community is going to really benefit from having the ReStore and having our affiliate here.”

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