• Shopping consignment at The ReStore

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    Part recycling center and discount home improvement center

    By Joe Santangelo

    Half an hour before 9 a.m. opening time, people already are outside Habitat for Humanity’s ReStore. They are waiting to load up items they have purchased, donate their gently-used home products or look at furniture still on a truck that was picked up at Cape Cod homes the day before.

    Manager Donna Baldwin and ReStore Associate Fred Thimme are on site early, reviewing the incoming merchandise and organizing appliances and furniture that customers will pick up. It will be a steady flow throughout the day at the ReStore: volunteers assisting arriving customers, donated goods coming in one door and purchased goods going out the other.

    During the day, about 20 customers per hour come mostly from Yarmouth, Dennis, Barnstable and Harwich but also Brewster, Eastham, Falmouth, Mashpee, Sandwich, Orleans, and visitors from the Albany, Boston and Hartford areas. Customers who saw furniture items on the ReStore’s website have come even from central Massachusetts and the North Shore.

    Every customer has a story: rental property that needs appliances, a basement or garage that is being upgraded, a son or daughter moving to a new place and needing furniture, a family member who passed away or is downsizing with furniture to be donated or nonprofit organizations assisting people with housing needs.

    Builders who are tearing down or remodeling properties donate reusable cabinets, appliances, fixtures and a range of other products to the ReStore. Building suppliers and furniture dealers contribute overstocked or discontinued products, often unopened in original cartons.

    “This place is wonderful, absolutely wonderful,” one Dennis woman declared as she walked in the store. A couple from Yarmouth Port affirmed what nearly every customer said, “We come here for the prices. We find good things for a reasonable amount of money.

    “We find different items we can make work for small projects,” according to rental property owner Leon Narbonne of Dennis. “It brings income to Habitat and it brings us some savings. It’s a good fit.”

    Customers noted the quality of goods is improving, which draws people back repeatedly – often more than once a week. Name brand furniture such as Thomasville and Broyhill has been donated, also Barbo’s Wayside Furniture, as well as Andersen and Brosco building products.

    Inventory in the recently expanded store – now almost 10,000 square feet – can be “hit or miss,” according to customers. Items change from day to day and include furniture, appliances, kitchen cabinets, doors, windows, lighting, vanity sinks, mirrors, rugs, and even outdoor furniture. Electronics and upholstered furniture or bedding currently are not accepted.

    Furniture is the top seller, generating about half the business. Appliances are second in sales. Refrigerators, washers and dryers often come and go within 24 hours. Good rugs often sell in a day or two.

    Eight blue-shirted volunteers were on hand one Wednesday, including Max Schachter, a Syracuse University senior from Barnstable who rode with Thimme in the ReStore truck, donated by Waystack Real Estate of Harwich, to pick up donated goods in the Upper Cape area.

    Karen and Hank Henderson assisted customers. Joe O’Toole repaired a lazy susan kitchen corner-cabinet that came in on the truck the day before. Summer staffer Elias McQuaid and volunteer David Hevenor both of Sandwich helped move furniture and appliances.

    At the front desk, volunteer Tom Sears manages the ReStore’s command central, taking a continuous stream of phone calls, scheduling pickups of donated goods, keeping a wish list of items customers want and calling customers when the item comes in.

    The ReStore opened at 28 Whites Path, just off Exit 8 of the Mid-Cape Highway, in December 2011. It is generating nearly $100,000 a year for Habitat for Humanity effort that helped five Cape Cod families build  affordable homes during the 2012-2013 construction season, and 10 new homes in 2013-2014.

    Community donations and volunteer construction workers still are the key ingredients to Habitat for Humanity’s local home-building mission, but the ReStore is producing increasingly significant amounts of money to help build more homes, according to Victoria Goldsmith, local Habitat executive director.

    Each Habitat home on Cape Cod requires about $130,000 in building materials and licensed contractors’ work, in addition to the hundreds of hours of donated labor by volunteers and the future home owner. The homeowner takes out a low- or no-interest mortgage in that amount.

    With a slogan, “Recycle, Reuse, ReStore,” the ReStore benefits homeowners and contractors who shop there, but also the local environment. Habitat for Humanity International, which counts about 800 locally-operated ReStores across the U.S., estimates that for each dollar in goods sold, 1.3 pounds of material is kept out of the waste stream. Thus, the Cape Cod ReStore has saved more than 100 tons of material from the waste stream.

    Manager Donna Baldwin thanks the community and the local Habitat board of directors for strong support. “Great things are being donated,” she said. “The quality of the merchandise helps improve our reputation, and it brings people back again and again.  It really is a win-win business. We help keep items out of the landfill, we sell these items to the community at discounted prices, and we help Habitat’s mission of building affordable homes here on Cape Cod.”










    May 13, 2014