In another part of the store, an unusual male-bonding experience is taking place: Two friends are getting their first look at this Habitat ReStore after having visited others in the region.
“I have a five-bedroom house in New Jersey,” says John Hankinson, 51, of Willingboro. “I pretty much redid it entirely through Habitat stores.”
How does an affordable-housing construction nonprofit raise more money in ramshackle economic times? It sells home decorating and renovation items, of course.
This month, Habitat for Humanity’s Philadelphia chapter turned its periodic garage sales in a North Philadelphia neighborhood into a large warehouse, stocking everything from kitschy plastic toilet-bowl cleaners whose handles look like art nouveau-ish ballerinas, to stylish kitchen cabinets fresh from the box.
“I think there’s a movement across our country, and maybe some of it is driven by the economy, that people of all income levels are looking for ways to save money,” says Drew Meyer, senior director of ReStore support in Habitat for Humanity’s Atlanta-based national office.
The first Habitat store opened in 1991 in Winnipeg, Manitoba, and the first U.S. shop was in business the following year in Austin, Texas. Now there are more than 700 stores countrywide. Locally, ReStores are also in West Norriton, Pennsauken, Cinnaminson, and at the Granite Run Mall in Media.
The stores’ sales accounted for $175 million out of Habitat for Humanity’s $700 million revenue nationally in fiscal 2010 (the remaining revenue comes from contributions and grants). That’s up from the previous fiscal year’s sales of $162.7 million, a Habitat for Humanity spokeswoman says.