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Archive for Sunday, August 8, 2004

Lawrence Habitat plans home-supply thrift store

Group seeks funds, location to open ‘ReStore’

August 8, 2004

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For sale: Brand-new kitchen cabinets, $150. Sinks, $25. New doors, $10.

Wanted: 10,000 square feet to open a homebuilders thrift store. Profits will benefit Lawrence Habitat for Humanity.

For the third straight week, Habitat workers have peddled new and used donated items and raised a little more than $3,000 toward a $10,000 goal. The money, organizers hope, will serve as a launching point for a "ReStore," a thrift store version of Home Depot.

Friday afternoon, passers-by stopped in for a look at the garage sale at 412 E. Ninth St., but few brought out cash.

"The first two Fridays were nuts," said Dave Baldwin, a Habitat volunteer working Friday at the "Presale Garage Sale," which continued Saturday. "But we've only sold $100 worth so far today."

In January, volunteers began brainstorming plans for a home-supply thrift store, said Jean Lilley, executive director of the Lawrence chapter of the international organization that builds and sells affordable housing for the "working poor." The ReStore plans are modeled after successful stores run by other Kansas and Missouri chapters.

In Springfield, Mo., for example, the chapter's 4-year-old ReStore profits now surpass $250,000 a year, according to a chapter report issued in June. Volunteers man the 15,000-square-foot warehouse, and all profits are pumped into building new houses for low-income applicants who buy them with no-interest loans.

Lawrence volunteers hope to find a space for a store through purchase, lease or donation by March, Lilley said.

Habitat offices, 840 Conn., receive four or five calls a week from home supply stores or individuals who can't find a use for hard-sell merchandise or leftover materials, Lilley said.

Tony Roe, Perry, left, gets help from Habitat for Humanity
volunteer Dave Baldwin, Lawrence, as they load windows Roe
purchased at the Habitat for Humanity "Prestore Garage Sale."
Proceeds from the sale Friday and Saturday went toward plans to
start a home-improvement thrift store in town.

Tony Roe, Perry, left, gets help from Habitat for Humanity volunteer Dave Baldwin, Lawrence, as they load windows Roe purchased at the Habitat for Humanity "Prestore Garage Sale." Proceeds from the sale Friday and Saturday went toward plans to start a home-improvement thrift store in town.

A space for a store will have to be bigger than the chapter's 1,000-square-foot former office building at 412 E. Ninth St. Friday afternoon, cabinets, doors and countertops leaned haphazardly against the walls, partially blocking the walkways.

"This keeps it out of the landfill," Baldwin said.

But with suppliers donating truckloads of materials, the chapter needs more storage, Lilley said.

"If you're not building a lot of houses at once, you don't need a lot of space," she said.

Habitat is finishing construction on two Lawrence homes and is poised to break ground on a third in the coming weeks.

Anyone would be able to shop at the proposed thrift store. And if it doesn't raise money to benefit those needing housing, it won't last long.

"We will close it if we are not raising money to build homes," Lilley said.

The store could funnel some much-needed revenue to the Lawrence chapter. Lots alone can cost $40,000, and building materials for new houses run about $50,000, Lilley said. Habitat has programs to attract grants, but a successful business venture couldn't hurt, she said.

Habitat officials also said they wanted to launch an online version of the thrift store to cater to a 24-hour market.

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