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Habitat’s ReStore Is an Adventure


Habitat for Humanity’s ReStore has a new look, at both locations—on Barber Street and on the Atlanta Highway. Some customers don’t like it, because they’re less likely to find vastly underpriced treasures. But as marketing consultant Paul Farr explains, “We’re here to maximize the return for Habitat.”

One of the big changes is that the ReStore staff is concentrating on identifying special-pricing articles as they come in and entering them into the in-store silent auctions every Monday and on the second Friday in the month. The experience at both stores so far is that these special items tend to bring more than they used to, when they were not as carefully curated.

By keeping a closer eye on what comes in, the ReStore staff has spotted some items that were clearly brought by mistake..

Assistant Manager Don Joyner described a box they discovered recently containing old photographs, military medals and other memorabilia collected throughout a lifetime, dropped off in error after the death of the woman who had compiled this record of her husband’s life. Thanks to their new procedures, the staff were able to spot the contents of the box and recognize their value to the family. With a little sleuthing, they located the couple’s children and shipped the box to them.

James Ford, the dock supervisor at the Barber Street ReStore says the box of memorabilia is not unusual. “People put things in boxes, and sometimes they bring the wrong box,” Ford says.

All three men emphasize the bargains still to be found at both ReStore locations: a $3,000 rug for $250, a $2,000 refrigerator for $350. “Our best deals are on our most expensive stuff,” Ford says.

The stores, particularly the one on Barber Street, have long been popular with the more creative Athenians with a knack for reusing whatever strikes their fancy.

Then, of course, there are the “pickers,” people who are expert at picking through the stores’ contents for items to resell in their own stores or at the J&J Center. And, of course, there are the many customers who cannot afford new items.

“We get a lot of repair people, too,” Joyner says, “people who’re looking for lawn mowers and other equipment they can scavenge for parts.”

PubNotes-HabitatRestoreDonJoyner.jpg

(l-r) James Ford, Don Joyner and Paul Farr spend a lot of time trying to put a value on items that come into the ReStore.

The men all stressed their need for volunteers to help with just about every facet of the ReStore operations. “We need people who know how to fix things, and those who know a certain field, like clothing or books or records and know how to value them,” Farr says.

Meanwhile, all three maintain that there are still great bargains to be found at ReStore, in the auctions and on the shelves. “Come early and often” seems to be the mantra for successful ReStore shopping.

Habitat Director Spencer Frye says the ReStore sales bring in around 30 percent of the organization’s budget, which goes to building homes for low-income people. People interested in volunteering can drop by the front desk at either store (532 Barber St. and 5132 Atlanta Hwy). The new configuration at the stores has made for a lot more room for processing the incoming merchandise, and that’s where volunteers can be a big help.

“And remember,” Ford says, “100 percent of what we make stays here and goes to work helping people in this community.”

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