BY KATIE MATTESON
Where can you go in Racine to find new and gently used appliances, furniture and bed frames, tools and hardware, windows and doors, flooring, molding, millwork and lumber, sinks, toilets and plumbing supplies, lighting fixtures and electrical supplies, gardening and yard supplies, commercial and industrial items?
Where can you donate household furnishings and appliances when you decide to move or downsize?
Where can a company go to donate new or used office equipment?
Where is a good place to go to find what’s needed to furnish a college rental or first-time apartment?
Where can a new business go to find office furniture and equipment?
How can you support local Habitat for Humanity projects?
Where can retirees go to enjoy contributing their skills and making new friends?
Where can companies conduct a team-building activity and help a local nonprofit at the same time?
The answer to all these questions is the same: ReStore Racine, located at 2302 DeKoven Ave. (northwest corner of the Kranz building).
The 15,400-foot store is open on Tuesday and Thursday from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. and Saturday from 9 a.m. – 4 p.m.
It’s also a good idea to “like” the store’s Facebook page to see the featured items, as new things literally come in every day.
Donations are accepted while the store is open and pick up service is available on Tuesdays and Thursdays by appointment. The store also receives regular donations from Uline.
The whole operation is run by a small, but mighty part-time staff and a hearty group of 35 active volunteers, who take care of repairing, restoring, recycling, pricing and stocking in the warehouse, as well as cashiering and picking up items from donors homes or businesses.
Thom Bowen, serves as director, with assistant director Emily Knaapen and donation coordinator Mary Tompsett.
Bowen took over the operation in 2015 from founder Lois Solberg, who opened the doors in 5,800 square feet of donated space on March 15, 2007. Sales that day were $201, according to statistics provided by Larry Berger, a recently retired Habitat for Humanity board member who chaired the Finance Committee and is still responsible for ReStore accounting.
Berger said average daily sales are now $2,200 and cumulative sales through Dec. 2018 were $2.4 million and cumulative pounds kept out of landfills were 4.5 million.
He added that the largest sales category for cumulative sales has been furniture (21 percent), but in the 2017-18 fiscal year, the largest sales category was warehouse equipment including donations from Uline (24 percent).
Bowen said that the store was ranked third among ReStore operations nationwide in 2018 for sales growth, increasing from $200,000 in gross sales in 2017 to $296,000 in 2018 – an increase of 48 percent. He said 27 percent of that growth can be attributed to the Uline donations.
All of this means that the local Habitat for Humanity chapter can continue the work it began in 1988. Here’s what they’ve accomplished so far (Source: habitatracine.org, statistics are as of 2018):
- 95 homes sold (built new or rehabbed)
- $6 million added to the property tax base
- $2.7 million paid in property taxes by Habitat homeowners
- 200 children have been placed into safe and decent households
- 153 adults have become Habitat homeowners
For more information about making donations or volunteering, call (262) 898-2929 or visit restoreracine.com.
To learn more about Racine Habitat for Humanity, visit habitatracine.org.