A different kind of thrift store: ReStore
by Katie Pearn and Angelos Kyriakides
When people hear the words “thrift store,” lumber and flooring tiles aren’t usually the kind of items that come to mind. However if anyone were to venture into one of Habitat for Humanity’s ReStores, those are the kind of products they are likely to find. ReStores are thrift stores that sell home improvement items to help fund Habitat for Humanity’s work throughout the world.
It’s a social enterprise, selling building materials and supplies to help fund the work of Habitat for Humanity. A social enterprise is a business that funnels its profits into non-profit work, helping to accomplish a lot of good work. You can shop for your home while supporting a great cause. ReStore has three locations in Southern Alberta where bargain-hunters, DIYers, students or contractors alike can find thousands of items all at 40-60 per cent below regular retail prices and GST-free.
“The idea for ReStore came from a group of summer students in Winnipeg 26 years ago,” says Alex Meyer, Manager of Business Relations at Habitat for Humanity. “The funding model was to take new and gently-used appliances and household items and repurpose and reuse them, with the proceeds going back to Habitat for Humanity.”
Patrons can shop for major appliances like stoves, fridges, washers and dryers or home furnishings such as tables, chairs, cabinets and couches. There is also a variety of brand new supplies for home renovations, such as paint and flooring.
“About 80-90 per cent of the product in our stores is brand new, overstock or discontinued product,” Meyers says. “We see lots of oversupplied product from projects or companies that are looking to free up warehouse space. If you’re doing a project at home, you can get really great supplies for 20-60 per cent less than you would otherwise. Our furniture is typical pricing for second-hand furniture.”
ReStore not only provides shoppers with great buys, it also helps people avoid both the cost of transporting items to the landfill and the associated dumping fees, while reducing their overall environmental footprints by recycling the old household items. Because its product is all donated, and/or recycled, many large appliances, home furnishings and other products are diverted from local landfills. In fact, last year alone, the three southern Alberta ReStores diverted over 2000 tonnes of waste. They even make it easy to donate by offering a free pickup service for donations.
“We are always looking for household furniture and large appliances,” says Meyers. “We have a technician in-house and offer a short-term warranty on refurbished items. We will pick them up free of charge and if an item is picked up and not able to be used, we will take it to the appropriate facilities.”
Donors are also eligible for a charitable tax receipt for donations valued at $150 or more. For more information on what you can donate, how to volunteer or the three ReStore locations and hours in Calgary and Medicine Hat, visit www.restorecalgary.ca.
Habitat for Humanity is a non-profit organization that brings the community together to build strength, stability and independence for families through affordable home ownership.
Since 1976 Habitat for Humanity has been building homes and partnering with families all across the world. To date, they’ve housed 9,800,000 people, a number which is steadily increasing.
They offer families who are willing to partner with them a chance at sustainable living by building houses and giving them a payment plan that suits their needs. Partnership consists of, among other things, putting in 500 work hours, called “sweat equity”, and engaging in tutorials on how to budget and be a good neighbour. Ninety-three percent of families enrolled in the program are successful, fully purchasing their own home. This is an interesting statistic as 93 percent of people who are raised in poverty tend to remain in poverty. The work of Habitat for Humanity is helping to break the poverty cycle at the same rate in which it’s occurring.