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RISMEDIA, January 4, 2007-(MCT)-Amarillo Habitat for Humanity, an organization known for building houses, has now produced a store.

A ReStore, to be exact.

The Habitat ReStore will collect donated used or new building materials, furniture and working appliances and use the profits to raise money to pay for construction of more homes for low-income families.

An estimated 375 ReStores are operated nationwide to generate funds for affiliates of the Christian nonprofit housing ministry.

The Amarillo ReStore — the 28 in Texas — will operate from the nonprofit's new offices at 2700 S. Wilson St., at the Wilson intersection with Southeast 27th Avenue.

Habitat purchased and is renovating the building with the help of grants totaling more than $700,000 from the Amarillo Area Foundation, Sybil B. Harrington Living Trust and the Amarillo Business Foundation, said Habitat board president Mary Emeny.

The funds also helped the organization purchase 24 new lots for homes near Glenwood Park in southeast Amarillo, thanks to a "generous" land deal offered by developer Perry Williams, Emeny said.

Habitat for Humanity uses volunteer labor and help from future homeowners to construct or renovate houses for people who otherwise couldn't afford their own homes.

The nonprofit's shift to southeast Amarillo begins to fulfill one of its goals — to expand its reach into many parts of the city, she said.

"We want to not confine ourselves to one part of town," Emeny said.

Only five lots remain on the city block in north Amarillo that Habitat purchased for home sites in the early 1980s. Another home Habitat built there to house its offices will be converted for a client family, Emeny said.

"We built four (homes) last year," Executive Director Jana Belew said. "My goal is 10 houses this year."

The new store can help Habitat reach that goal, said Amarillo ReStore Director Larry Brogdon.

Brogdon previously served as director of a Hot Springs, Ark., Habitat ReStore.

"In the three years I was there, we fully funded seven houses," he said. "And we saved approximately 250 tons of items from going to the landfill. So, it's a real winning combination."

Typical ReStore donors are home improvement retail chains, building contractors and do-it-yourself home remodelers. Typical customers include rental property owners and homeowners looking for bargains, Brogdon said.

New items sell for no more than half their retail price, and used items even less, he said.
"Our inventory changes daily — commodes, bathtubs, kitchen cabinets, lumber, doors, windows, carpet," he said. "And we're accepting furniture and working appliances."

The store's soft opening was yesterday, with a grand opening at a later date, he said.

Brogdon, who was a regional director for the Dollar Tree chain, said his experience in Hot Springs-population 35,750-leads him to believe Amarillo is large enough to support at least one more ReStore location.

"We're hoping to open another one in the west part of town," he said. "That's our long-term plan, which hopefully will be within the next year."

ReStores are operated different ways in different cities. Belew described what she called a "garage sale kind of thing" once a month in Manhattan, Kansas, that nets $1,000 in a day. Emeny described two San Antonio locations, one an 80,000-square-foot warehouse.
"Denver opened its second store and made $23,000 in the first day in sales," Belew said.

Habitat's new headquarters has provided it not only with space for the store, but also room to store building materials for future homes.

"It will allow us to buy in bulk, which is much more efficient," Emeny said. "Plus, we'll have the space to fabricate walls and roof trusses and store them, which means houses can go up faster and more efficiently."

And Habitat will be able to sell donated materials it can't use, she said, pointing to shelves loaded with doorknob locksets. "We'll never use that many locksets, ever."

Habitat also will match ReStore materials it receives with other needs in the community — and has already. Some contributed carpet went to the Don Harrington Discovery Center, and a donated refrigerator-too large for a Habitat home -was sent to the High Plains Food Bank, Emeny said.

The store will be staffed by Brogdon and volunteers, including Habitat homeowner clients, who give back to the organization through "sweat equity."

"The whole thing is just a synergistic dream," Emeny said.

Copyright © 2007, Amarillo Globe-News, Texas.
Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.

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