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FOCUS 2018: Fort Wayne Habitat for Humanity’s new ReStore location reaching more people

Fort Wayne Habitat for Humanity's new ReStore opened in March at 4747 Lima Road and already has seen a big increase in business compared with the old ReStore location on Wells Street. (News-Sentinel.com file photo)
Kay Aupperle, left, of Bluffton, and her sister, Phyllis Hull of Fort Wayne, checked out the furniture one day last month at Fort Wayne Habitat for Humanity's new ReStore on Lima Road. (By Kevin Kilbane of News-Sentinel.com)
On a day last month, shoppers could pick from a large selection of doors at Fort Wayne Habitat for Humanity's new ReStore on Lima Road. (By Kevin Kilbane of News-Sentinel.com)
Sales Associate Deborah Graham, at checkout, helps customers buying items at Fort Wayne Habitat for Humanity's new ReStore on Lima Road. (By Kevin Kilbane of News-Sentinel.com)
A volunteer works on processing donated items in the donations area of Fort Wayne Habitat for Humanity's new ReStore on Lima Road. (By Kevin Kilbane of News-Sentinel.com)
Fort Wayne Habitat for Humanity's new ReStore on Lima Road continues to stock a large variety of building and home improvement items, as well as adding a larger selection of furniture and appliances. (By Kevin Kilbane of News-Sentinel.com)

It didn’t take long for people to discover the new Fort Wayne Habitat for Humanity ReStore at 4747 Lima Road.

Since the new ReStore opened in early March, sales have doubled from what they were at the former ReStore location at 3837 N. Wells St., said Megan Hubartt, Fort Wayne Habitat communications and grants manager.

In its first 11 weeks of operation, the new ReStore generated about $250,000 in sales compared with the about $700,000 the Wells Street location earned in an entire year, Hubartt said.

With 42,000 vehicles passing by the store daily on Lima Road, Fort Wayne Habitat CEO Justin Berger said previously he believes the visibility will attract about 100,000 shoppers a year, which is double the number of people who visited the old store on Wells Street.

That’s good news because Fort Wayne Habitat plans to use ReStore revenue and mortgage payments from families who have moved into a Habitat-built home to cover all of the nonprofit ministry’s operating costs, including construction of three to five homes per year, Berger said previously.

That would allow the ministry to use all donations to build even more homes for families who are unable to buy a home on their own, Berger said.

THE MISSION

With fundraising and donations, Berger hopes the local Habitat chapter can build about 10 homes per year, he said previously.

In early May, Fort Wayne Habitat had 25 families approved for a new home, including four families for whom construction of a new home had begun, Hubartt said. The ministry, which hopes to build 10 homes this summer, has about 1,200 people on its waiting list for possible participation in its home-ownership program.

Habitat families must help with construction of their home and also go through education on managing their finances and maintaining their home, Berger said previously.

Habitat holds down the cost of building homes by using volunteers for most of the basic construction work.

HOW IT HELPS

The ReStore generates revenue by selling donated new and gently used home improvement items and building materials at discounted prices – typically 40 percent to 60 percent lower than normal retail for most items, Berger said previously.

At the old ReStore, Habitat mainly sold donated building supplies, cabinets, plumbing fixtures and related items. The new ReStore, which at 27,000 square feet is nearly twice as large as the old store, will sell those items and will add furniture and some new items Habitat will purchase and sell at a discount, Berger said.

Furniture and appliances have been the fastest-selling items during the store’s first few months, Hubartt said.

“We have a good selection of both new and used furniture,” as well as appliances, she said.

NEW FEATURES

The building’s other features include:

• Higher-quality items than in the past.

• A large, canopy-covered donations area that can accommodate 16 vehicles in line.

• A canopy-covered pickup area, where customers can pull up to have heavy items loaded into their vehicle.

• 100 parking spaces, which is more than double the approximately 40 spaces at the old ReStore.

• An appliance testing center so staff can ensure donated appliances work properly before putting them on the sales floor.

• Two shower areas where staff and volunteers can clean items before moving them to the sales floor.

• Free coffee and popcorn available for shoppers.

MOVING AHEAD

To avoid increases in constructions costs, Fort Wayne Habitat proceeded with building the new ReStore before it raised the full cost of the project, Berger said previously.

The ministry still needs to raise about $2 million to pay off the new ReStore project, he said. Once that happens, Fort Wayne Habitat can devote all fundraising income to constructing houses for families approved for its home program.

Fort Wayne Habitat also can use more volunteers, Hubartt said. It works best if volunteers can commit to working a regular schedule of hours.

NEW RESTORE

WHAT: Fort Wayne Habitat for Humanity has opened its new ReStore, which sells new and gently used home improvement products, building materials, furniture and other items at discounted prices. Proceeds go to help support the ministry and its work building new homes for families unable to buy one on their own.

WHEN: Store hours are 10 a.m.-7 p.m. Mondays-Fridays and 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturdays.

WHERE: 4747 Lima Road

INFORMATION: 1-260-470-4200 and https://www.habitatgfw.com

NOTE: The Fort Wayne Habitat chapter also operates a ReStore in Huntington at Huntington 250 Commerce Dr. Hours are 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Tuesdays-Saturdays. Information: 1-260-356-8002.

DONATIONS

Donations of new and gently used building materials, home improvement items, furniture and appliances can be dropped off at Fort Wayne Habitat for Humanity’s new ReStore during the future regular hours of 10 a.m.-7 p.m. Mondays-Fridays and 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturdays.

To schedule a pickup of donated items, go to https://www.habitatgfw.com/schedule-pickup or call 1-260-470-4200. Donation pickups typically take place about a week after they are called in Fort Wayne Habitat, said Megan Hubartt, communications and grants manager.

INVENTORY UPDATES: For updates on what items the Fort Wayne Habitat ReStore has in stock, check out its page on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/FWHFHReStore/.

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