The shelves are stocked. The inventory has been dusted. New items have been added to the old. Departments have been created. And the floors have been shined.
“We are ready,” said Paulette Smart, Habitat ReStore director. “Right about now I’m breathing a little sigh of relief that we’re not going to be here tonight until midnight trying to get finished.”
That’s because of teamwork, an organized approach and the aid of plenty of volunteers, including one team from Mars Chocolate N.A. that dispatched a crew of workers to the ReStore for a full day of hard labor.
“The Mars volunteers came in and did a miraculous job in just one day,” Smart said.
All the organizing, all the cleaning and all the price-tagging have been for one cause; that being, the ribbon-cutting and grand-reopening ceremonies for the “bigger and better” Habitat ReStore which closed at 5 p.m. on Sept. 30.
The temporary closure was necessary to allow staff and volunteers to transition into the retailer’s 8,000-square-foot expansion. Almost two weeks later they’re finished. And just in time. The ribbon will be cut at 11 a.m. Thursday and the gates ... er, the front door ... will be opened for business.
The public is invited to the ribbon-cutting ceremonies though Smart believes most will be in more of a hurry to get into the larger, revamped store in order to explore all the new, and more organized, treasures.
Preparing the ReStore for “the big event” was a labor of love for staff and volunteers, but it didn’t come easy.
“During the shutdown (store closure), we had some staff and volunteers working six and seven days a week,” Smart said. “We’ve been working to get all the major equipment and fixtures moved in, and the departments lined up. These are all the kinds of things we couldn’t do with the store open.”
Staff and volunteers still have work ahead. Offices and other rooms still need to be cleaned and furnished, but that can be done while the ReStore is operating, Smart explained.
“We have spent most of our time on the receiving room ... that’s the heart of everything,” she said. “Even with the store closed, we have continued to receive some donations. We haven’t gone out and picked any up. So, with donations still coming in we’ve been doing a lot of sorting and stocking the shelves.”
Thursday’s grand reopening is coming at a good time for many. Early bird customers will get a 25 percent discount on all products and merchandise. Plus, the ReStore will have plenty of Halloween items on display, but the “biggie” is that Christmas items have been brought out and are now on display in the shelves. They too are eligible for the 25 percent discount.
“We had a lot of regular customers who were asking about this before we closed the store so we figured the grand reopening was the best possible time to bring everything (holiday items) out,” Smart noted.
Located at 300 Grove Ave. S.W., in the site of the old Cinema Twin Theater, the ReStore is a regular shopping spot for a variety of local buyers. One of 800 ReStores across America, the local facility is far exceeding original expectations; hence, the need for expanding the retail floor.
By Habitat for Humanity standards, the Cleveland and Bradley County community is considered small or rural, but the ReStore is performing at a mid-city level, Smart explained. She credited its success to how the community has embraced the retailer — both as consumers and donors.
“This community is very generous,” she said. “We have outpaced (in donations and business sales) what the experts say we should be doing.”
The ReStore sells new and gently used donated material and merchandise at reduced prices. Its profits — all 100 percent — go to Habitat for Humanity of Cleveland’s mission of providing decent, affordable housing to qualified families in Bradley County at a zero-percent mortgage rate.
Last year, the ReStore’s proceeds paid for the construction of three Habitat homes in Bradley County.
Now only hours away from the ribbon cutting, Smart credited the work of staff and volunteers.
“We have had so many who have worked an incredible number of hours and they’ve worked incredibly hard,” she stated. “We could never have done this without them. I also want to thank [Habitat Executive Director] Matt Carlson and the board of directors for giving us the freedom to be able to grow and to pursue the growth that we have experienced here.”
Once the doors open Thursday, the Habitat ReStore will return to its normal business hours of 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday.