June 8, 2019 9:59:41 PM
Jan Swoope - [email protected]
"Hey, guys! Donation!"
Habitat for Humanity ReSale Store Manager Abby Davis' shout was followed by the deep rumble of the building's wide metal lift door being raised. A vehicle pulled up with a hefty donation for the store -- in this case, a sofa. The next hour could bring a gently-used dining table and chairs, a box of delicate glassware, kitchen cabinets from a remodel, jewelry, a coffee table, surplus building supplies or a pair of ceramic pheasants. The scenery is always changing in the ReSale Store on Gardner Boulevard in east Columbus, where donated items from the public are sold at a fraction of their original retail price to benefit Columbus-Lowndes Habitat for Humanity.
"Each week is different. Each week holds surprises," Davis said.
Receiving, sorting, cleaning, pricing and displaying it all keeps staff and volunteers on the move. The evolving inventory keeps shoppers coming back every Friday and Saturday. Most importantly, it all helps Habitat for Humanity continue to put roofs over the heads of qualified families and individuals in need of decent, affordable housing.
Since opening in 2015, the ReSale Store has become a hive of activity and an asset to the local Habitat mission.
"We'd thought about starting a store for some time, and some of our board members had visited other Habitat 'ReStores,'" said CLHH Executive Director Kathy Arinder. Along with much thought and research, "We prayed about it a lot and thought this could be not only a way to extend our ministry, but to also be a ministry to the community so they can purchase quality clean items."
On Wednesday, volunteer Judith Moore arranged donated woven baskets on a store shelf. She comes in usually two days each week and turns a hand to any task needed, from washing glassware to pulling nails out of boards. Davis refers to her as a "triage" technician for donations; Moore often sorts them into categories as they arrive. But her first experience with the ReSale Store was as a donor.
"My mother passed away about two years ago," Moore began. As difficult as it is, families are often unable to hold on to every item their loved ones owned. When the time came, Moore donated some of her late mother's possessions to the Habitat store.
"They were so caring, so thoughtful there," she said. "I was always aware of Habitat and what they do for people, but when I saw it myself, I started volunteering." She has never regretted it.
"Everybody is so great to work with ... and we're helping to build houses for people. It's amazing that I can be a part of that."
The call and response echoed effectively through the ReSale Store Wednesday, useful in a building where sight lines are interrupted by shelving and furniture. "Marco Polo" helps Davis and others locate each other when working in different parts of the facility. The playful form of "tag" brings a smile to their faces.
"It sounds so much like a cliche, but it's a family here," said volunteer Billye Asherbranner of Steens. "Everybody is a delight -- the volunteers and the staff. I love these people."
Asherbranner discovered the store as a shopper first, after her sister enthused about it and told her to check out the Facebook page. Davis posts "walk-through" photos every Thursday, previewing new items available during weekly Friday-Saturday store hours.
Arinder said, "It's not uncommon to see 30 to 40 people lined up outside before we open up on Friday mornings. It's fun. The parking lot is full. A lot of them are people who come every week; they become like family to us."
"It's incredible. The customers who are regulars come out and have now become friends. It's like 'How's your mama and them?'" Davis smiled. "And people are still discovering us."
While everybody loves a bargain, the ReSale Store is not just a "good deal" -- it's also a good deal more.
Arinder noted that, in addition to helping offset expenses or supporting house builds, the store can also help toward programs like a relatively new repair ministry on homes of elderly or disabled individuals.
"I think since the first of the year we've done repairs on five or six homes," said Arinder. Just as Habitat homeowners pay an affordable interest-free mortgage on their new houses (and contribute required hours of "sweat equity"), repair recipients make manageable monthly payments toward materials.
"The store is kind of evolving into more than we anticipated," Davis observed. It spreads the word of the CLHH mission.
"There's a bigger knowledge now about Habitat and what we're doing because we're able to communicate that to people who come in," Arinder said.
Now in its 30th year, Columbus-Lowndes Habitat for Humanity is building its 49th home, expecting to have it finished for the new senior occupant, Mary Bush, by her birthday in late July. And there's "Christmas in July" to look forward to at the store. It's a festive weekend July 19-20 with Christmas music, snow cones and a building filled with holiday decor and gifts for sale.
Arinder credits the ReSale Store's success to the generous circle of those who donate items, those who purchase them, and volunteers that assist the staff with each step in between.
Davis said, "It's just amazing how close they all are. Volunteers are the backbone of every nonprofit. It's about them and their love for the community."
Of the store and the Habitat mission, Asherbranner summed up: "Everybody cares about it. It's not just going to the store -- it's thinking about what it means to Mrs. Bush's house that's being built right now." And every house built, every family helped, for years to come.
CLHH ReSale Store
■ The Columbus-Lowndes Habitat for Humanity ReSale Store at 1110 Gardner Boulevard in Columbus accepts donations of items in good condition and full working order Tuesday-Friday, 9 a.m.-4 p.m. and Saturday 8 a.m.-2 p.m.
The store is open to shoppers Friday 9 a.m.-4 p.m., and Saturday 8 a.m.-2 p.m.
■ For donations of large, heavy items, please call first (662-329-2501) to ensure someone is on hand to unload, or to arrange pick-up.
■ The store accepts clean/gently-used building materials, furniture, household items, working electric appliances, kitchen items, artwork, linens and home decor.
■ It cannot accept clothes, used mattresses, medical equipment or supplies, dishwashers, paint, car seats or baby items, fluorescent bulbs and fixtures, electronics or gas appliances.
■ For more information, visit columbushabitat.org, email [email protected] or [email protected], call 662-329-2501, or visit the Facebook page, facebook.com/clhfh.
Jan Swoope is the Lifestyles Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.