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Habitat for Humanity, public benefit from donated building supplies

HUDSON–Columbia County Habitat for Humanity’s new ReStore, the outlet for donated new, used and reusable construction materials, home appliances, fixtures, and furniture, is open for business.

Volunteers opened the new business in February with only $10,000 in donated capital for rent, lighting and a point-of-sale check out and inventory control system. That and lots of volunteer work hours for everything else got the new store open in just under a year. A custom made pine checkout desk just inside the door was built from scratch by Al and Rose Ross.

 

Located in a former gymnasium and roller skating rink on Route 66 just east of the intersection with Route 9H, the ReStore, which is open Friday through Sunday, saw more traffic than anticipated during the winter months.

“On Friday mornings, people are waiting to get in. We are exceeding our projections for the first six months, and that’s really exciting,” said Habitat board member Pat Baer. “We started out with great sales. This is a community that would embrace the concept. A lot of people do their own work. Shopping here can make people’s construction and maintenance dollars go farther.”

“Having really good inventory is key,” said board member Joyce Lapenn. “New material comes in every week. Everything that is for sale has been contributed.”

Gallons of paint, tung oil and wood stain, ceiling fans, kitchen and laundry appliances, plumbing fixtures including new Kohler tubs in discontinued colors sell at one half of their list price. Stone tiles, roofing materials, screening, oak flooring, doors, windows, shelving, file boxes, a furnace rated for 97% efficiency, circuit breakers, electrical components, light fixtures, doorknobs, hinges and more, all at cut rate prices, provide the public with unusual savings, while keeping useful materials in circulation and out of landfills.

If you need something and don’t find it, you can ask to be put on a wish list in case what you want does come in. People ask for kitchen cabinets, doors, windows of specific sizes or configuration, roofing materials, lumber, tiles, washers and driers, and wood stoves, said Brenda Adams, executive director of Columbia County Habitat for Humanity.

A woman who bought a gas stove at the ReStore said she had been without an oven for two years because she couldn’t afford to replace her stove when it broke.

Melissa Sarris and Michael Wollowitz were planning to put new siding on their Chatham house after re-insulating. Through Ms. Lapenn, a friend, they heard that the ReStore had just received a donation of the pricey, pre-painted cement Hardy board siding and bought it last winter, realizing a windfall of savings.

Contractor Tim Wyman found a whole kitchen’s worth of cabinets “in good condition” to use in apartments he is building in Claverack in the old Hickey Brother’s Grocery Store on 9H. He estimates he saved $2,000. He shops frequently at ReStore with a list, because “you never know what you’re going to find.” He checks the websites of other nearby ReStores to see what’s on offer, and donates his own surplus back to the store. “It’s nice to be able to use the Restore. It gives something back to the community,” he said.

Clyde Schrader, owner of Schrader Home Interiors in Greenport, donated all of his paint to the ReStore when he decided to get out of the paint business. “We could have made some money on a paint sale, but it gave us a chance to help them raise money for Habitat. In times like these, you can’t give to every organization and this gives you a way to help out,” he said.

“We often throw out boxes of stone tiles, but ReStore came and asked,” said Ali Williams who works at Countrytown Marble & Tile in Hillsdale. “We’d rather see someone enjoy these tiles we can’t sell because small quantities are hard. We’re happy that people who can use these tiles will have them,” she said.

The idea for a store to recycle construction materials and raise extra money for the non-profit producer of volunteer built housing originated in Winnipeg, Canada in 1991. The same year, a Habitat affiliate in Austin, Ga., started the first ReStore in the United States. Now there are 600 ReStores in the US. The Winnipeg store says it diverts 1.5 million pounds of usable materials from local landfills each year.

“This idea affects a huge number of people. We’re serving the entire community from donors, and buyers, to Habitat beneficiaries who get new houses from the summer building programs,” said Ms. Adams. An added benefit of the ReStore is that Habitat for Humanity, for the first time, has a home office in the same building.

Habitat for Humanity is gearing up for its summer building project that will create two single family homes on Columbia Street this summer. Another new initiative, Cars for Homes, seeks donations of used vehicles to help fund the housing projects.

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