About 150 people came out for an early morning ribbon cutting ceremony Saturday at the new and improved Habitat for Humanity ReStore on Coliseum Drive.
Habitat offices across the nation run ReStores that sell new and gently used building materials, furniture, appliances and home accessories.
“The purpose of the Habitat Restore is to generate income that goes back into our mission and by doing that, generating more income in a more visible location, we serve more families,” said Forsyth County Habitat for Humanity Executive Director Sylvia Oberle.
Habitat builds new homes and revitalizes existing structures, often helping to breathe new life into blighted communities.
The local ReStore opened in 1999 in a small space behind Habitat Forsyth’s office on Witt Street and became so popular that it was expanded to nearly 37,000-square-feet. Aside from being hard to find (Witt Street is in an obscure location near the intersection of Stratford Road and Knollwood Street), the former store lacked proper lighting and climate control.
The new colorful bulding has a prime location – between a CVS Pharmacy and the Arts Council Theatre and across from the Lawrence Joel Veterans Memorial Coliseum. Its bold, towering architecture is visible from the heavily traveled University Parkway.
Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center Vice President and Chief of Human Resources Officer Cheryl Locke, who led the $3 million capital campaign for the new ReStore, noted that the location is also close to some of Habitat Forsyth’s most ambitious work to date – a Cherry Street restoration project that constructed several new houses and refurbished others.
“I think (the new ReStore) took a lot of vision and a lot of real dedication and understanding of really what this could mean for folks; and here we are, blocks away from some of the communities that have really benefited from the kindness and volunteerism of Habitat,” Locke said.
ReStore manager Dwayne Thompson was pleased with the turnout at the grand opening, which included free food and workshops on restoring furniture and repurposing broken items. The store, which has both paid and volunteer employees and has been open since Jan. 2, has doubled its sales and received more donations since the move, Thompson said.
Contractors and everyday residents looking for bargains have made the ReStore a popular spot. The new location is also attracting many curious drivers-by, who stop, come in and inquire about the store, giving employees a chance to educate them about the ReStore and Habitat.
“Old customers are finding us,” Thompson said. “More importantly new customers are finding us, people just driving by and stopping.”
ReStore regular Preston Mickens dropped in Saturday morning. Within minutes, he’d already found a light fixture he liked. Mickens said he often uses the quality lumber and other materials at the store for home improvement projects. He said he was impressed with the new location and has always appreciated the ReStore’s outstanding customer service and selection.
“With a place this big and nice, they’ll make money,” Mickens said.
City Council member Jeff MacIntosh is also a ReStore regular. MacIntosh, who spoke during the ribbon-cutting ceremony, is a realtor who restores old homes with his interior designer wife, Susan. At the ReStore, the couple has purchased hard-to-find flooring, appliances, doors and windows.
“There really is very few places in town where you can get antique building materials,” said MacIntosh, who is among the volunteers helping Habitat revitalize Cherry Street.
Keeping the store full of unique and quality materials is the job of Procurement Director Vince Cannino. Individual donations can be dropped off at the store. ReStore employees and volunteers also pick up donated items of any size. Often, materials companies donate lumber, tiles and inventory they can’t use. Cannino often leads architectural salvages, taking windows, doors, flooring and other parts of buildings that are about to be demolished. He even drives around looking for and collecting stray and donated bricks.
“We have everything under the sun,” Cannino said. “It’s a shoppers paradise.”
The ReStore is located at 608 Coliseum Drive and is open Tuesday – Friday from 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. and on Saturday from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. For information about donating, including scheduling a pick-up, call 336-893-8494 or visit www.habitatforsyth.org/restore.