Philly’s Habitat chapter puts its periodic garage sales on a grander scale –

Antionette Reed is in stealth mode as she walks among the used dining-room tables and chairs at Philadelphia’s newest salvage and thrift store.

Reed, 55, takes photos on her cellphone of dining sets at the Philadelphia Habitat for Humanity’s ReStore warehouse in Kensington, and sends the pictures to her daughter, who is about to move to a new home.

She calls the young woman, who shuns thrift shops, and asks what she thinks of the tables and chairs. Evidently, her daughter’s mind is on a single issue.

“Where am I? It doesn’t matter where I am,” Reed says defiantly, refocusing her daughter on what’s in the photos. “Look at the legs. Do you like the legs?”

Detail of a sink on sale for $59. Merchandise is often donated in regions where Habitat volunteers build affordable housing.

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.

via Philly’s Habitat chapter puts its periodic garage sales on a grander scale –