BY LAURA OLENIACZ
DURHAM – Richard W. Morgan Jr. has opened a store in downtown Durham, the ReUse Warehouse, that’s like a thrift shop for building materials.
In a 8,500-square-foot space at 800 Taylor St., Morgan is selling surplus new as well as used materials from porcelain tile to used cabinets, commercial-grade carpets, old doors and antique bricks that he said are priced lower than their original retail value.
The warehouse is near the new location of the nonprofit The Scrap Exchange in the East Village Plaza that’s owned by Julio Cordoba. The property is next to Golden Belt and is also part of what was historically a textile mill facility.
“The mission is to divert material from the landfill, period,” Morgan said of the mission of the business’ nonprofit partner, the California-based The ReUse People of America.
The nonprofit repurposes building materials to keep them out of landfills. Morgan said that since the store is a partner with the nonprofit, homeowners or others can receive a tax deduction for making a donation of building materials.
He also sells items on consignment in the shop, with a portion of the sales price from the items going to original owner.
Morgan, a loan officer for Harrington Bank who is running the ReUse Warehouse business on the side, said he believes God had a hand in the location and launch of the new business.
“I can see his hand in everything,” he said.
Morgan said he started planning for the for-profit ReUse Warehouse a year and a half ago, and has gotten a lot of support from his father, Richard Morgan, who owns the longtime downtown home furnishings retailer and gift shop Morgan Imports.
He said his father has supplied a large amount of material for the shop, since his father has a partnership with Triangle Flooring out of Cary that has surplus materials from big construction jobs.
Morgan said he also is looking to gather materials from homeowners looking to demolish their property, or who in donations from homeowners who would pay for a deconstruction in exchange for a tax deduction.
Inside his shop, he pointed to a corner containing cabinetry, an oven, and a kitchen countertop taken from a home in Hope Valley that was sold and was targeted for a renovation by the new owner.
“It was a whole house remodel,” he said.
Morgan said he believes the tax benefit of a donation would offset the additional cost of a deconstruction project, as opposed to doing a demolition. But he said the company is also looking into bidding on demolitions to be able to access the materials as well.
He said he expects to see business for the store generated from customers looking to do remodels, and said he believes the slow-to-recover economy will be on his side, as consumers are looking for a good deal.
Ted Reiff, president of ReUse People of America, said the nonprofit has seen deconstruction drop by 20 to 25 percent from a high in 2007 or 2008, but he said retail sales have increased.
The nonprofit partners with seven other stores scattered throughout the country, and also operates two of its own. Reiff attributed the increase in retail sales to more people focusing more on own home renovation projects rather than new construction.
“A lot of people have downsized their projects, and they’ve also found that reused materials are often just as good as new materials, and they’re priced significantly less,” he said.
On Monday, Hillsborough resident Carey Collins was in the ReUse Warehouse of Durham looking at materials for a home renovation. Collins said he’s also a contractor with the company MCN Woodcraft.
He said he has bought building materials from the Habitat for Humanity ReStore, which also sells donated surplus building materials, but he said he’s seen a decline in the available supply as a result of a drop-off in new construction.
He said the stores are helpful for selling items at lower prices.
“It looks like (Morgan) is getting enough volume of product where you can actually plan something,” he said.