Habitat ReStore reopens to throng of eager customers
by RICK NORTON, Associate Editor
Oct 12, 2012 | 2319 views | 0 0 comments | 6 6 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Habitat ReStore reopens
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CLEVELAND RESIDENT DIANE CENTERS found some major bargains Thursday at the reopening of the Habitat for Humanity of Cleveland ReStore. Here, she holds a Christmas stand she bought at a low price and that might explain the big smile. Banner photos, RICK NORTON
In an apparent prelude to Black Friday, hundreds of bargain hunters stormed the unlocked doors of the Habitat for Humanity ReStore on Thursday as the popular discount retailer reopened with a ribbon cutting and in a grand way.

It didn’t take long for cash registers to buzz. Cash was flying, credit cards were sliding and lines were growing. Inventory sales of 25 percent — off everything — will have that effect.

“I just got started ... but I already wish I had gotten a bigger [shopping] cart,” beamed an elated Dolores Koob, a Cleveland resident who said she shops at the ReStore at least once a week. “I don’t always know what I’m shopping for — like today — but I’ll know when I see it.”

With a spirited laugh, Koob cautioned that anyone who doesn’t believe in her addiction to the ReStore should “... just come to my house, you’ll see.”

The elderly woman’s cart was already full less than 15 minutes into the reopening.

The morning’s dedication ceremonies started with featured comments from Paulette Smart, ReStore director; Barry Boettner, president of the Habitat for Humanity of Cleveland board of directors; and Cleveland Mayor Tom Rowland, the latter of whom has served as a major supporter of Habitat since its 1990 inception.

But then the fur began to fly.

Koob was just one in a huge crowd that started lining up at the ReStore’s doors by 9 a.m., a full two hours before the ribbon cutting that would signal the retailer’s grand reopening. The ReStore had been closed since Sept. 30, a brief hiatus that allowed staff and volunteers to organize the newly expanded facility that now boasts 8,000 square feet of additional sales floor.

But to some shoppers Thursday, it was the longest 11 days of closure in the history of ReStores, and the U.S. has about 800 of them.

With a chuckle, Koob didn’t admit to withdrawals, but she was quick to say she was elated at the retailer’s reopening. She didn’t shy away from giving an opinion about the store’s new look.

“It’s paradise!” she exclaimed. “The size and the layout ... it’s all wonderful. Everything is out in the open where you can see it ... and buy it!”

Kathy Schultz was one of several shoppers who traveled all the way from Chattanooga to check out the expanded and revamped Cleveland store.

Thursday was her second visit to the ReStore. She’s a good friend of the store’s director (Smart), so she wanted to show support for the Habitat for Humanity cause. On this day, she was keeping a ReStore employee busy in the rug section.

Last year alone, ReStore proceeds paid for the construction of three new Habitat homes in Cleveland.

A smiling, white-haired Patsy Floyd — who is another regular in the ReStore and who on this day was buying colorful table mats and Christmas decorations — said she had no intention of missing the retailer’s reopening.

She knew the crowds would come.

“I’m not really surprised at the size of this crowd,” Floyd said with a laugh from inside the busy ReStore. “I know how people are. They want bargains.”

Another couple of Chattanooga residents shopping in Cleveland were Joyce Alexander and Cindy Bailey.

“We were just out browsing on Tuesday and we came by the ReStore,” Alexander explained. “We didn’t know they would be closed, but when we found out about today, well ....”

Her voice trailed off as her eyes scanned the store’s bustling interior.

“It’s magnificent!” Alexander said of the Cleveland merchant. “It’s not cluttered or junky. It’s well organized.”

Bailey agreed.

“I love it here!” the Hamilton County resident stressed. “We will be back!”

As promised over the past 1 1/2 weeks, the ReStore reopened at 11 a.m. after the dedication and ribbon cutting.

After a spirited “Welcome!” by the ReStore director (Smart), the crowd creeped just a little closer to the doors in anticipation of the opening.

“This has been many months in the making,” Smart told the growing masses while holding the giant pair of scissors. “It has been a lot of long hours and hard work.”

She credited the resilience of Habitat staff and volunteers, and she thanked the nonprofit’s board of directors and Habitat Executive Director Matt Carlson for their vision in allowing the store to grow.

In his brief comments, Boettner pointed to the significance of Habitat for Humanity and the ReStore moving to the 300 Grove Ave. location — site of the old Cinema Twin Theater — four years ago. After a year of remodeling, the facilities opened in October 2009, an event that brought a comparably sized crowd of shoppers.

In his comments, Rowland told those in the crowd who were regular ReStore shoppers they would not believe what they were about to see.

“If you visited the store before, this is like a brand new one,” the longtime mayor cited.

Once the colorful red ribbon was snipped by the gold-tinted scissors, Smart held the door open for the throng of eager customers while talking with newsmen.

“We had people stopping by here as early as 9 o’clock this morning,” she said, laughing. “And the phones have been ringing off the hooks. Based on the number of calls we’ve been getting, I’m not surprised by the size of this crowd today.”

She added, “People want the bargains. They want to be first in line. There’s lots of stuff in there they want.”

Although details will be released soon, Smart confirmed the success of the 3-year-old ReStore is breeding even more success. A second Habitat ReStore location will open soon on North Lee Highway near the Bradley Square Mall.

“It will be a full-scale store and donation center,” Smart said. It is being opened on the city’s northern end because the area’s neighborhoods have been strong supporters of Habitat and the Grove Avenue ReStore for years, she explained.

A northern location will add convenience for residents on that end, both as donors and consumers, Smartt said. To be located near one of the city’s largest intersections — Huff Parkway and North Lee Highway/Keith Street — the ReStore director projected its growth could even exceed the existing facility.

Additional information about the second Habitat ReStore location will be published in a future edition of the Cleveland Daily Banner.