Once completed, the project will double the ReStore’s available retail and processing space.
Construction should be finished by this fall with a mid-September opening. A ribbon cutting and grand opening are tentatively targeted for early October.
Located at 300 Grove Ave. SW, the ReStore has become a popular destination for all varieties of shoppers, including low, mid- and high-income, according to Paulette Smart, ReStore director who has held the leadership post since January. She had previously led the Habitat-supporting nonprofit when it operated in rented facilities at the former Charleston Hosiery Mill on Edwards Street in 2005, but left the post two years later due to a family relocation.
Since moving into the remodeled theater, the ReStore’s client base has exploded. It not only attracts shoppers of all incomes, but it has also has become a stopping point for antique dealers, “treasure hunters,” developers, builders and remodelers, among others.
The ReStore most recently has added “repurposers” to its slate of regular customers. A “repurposer” is a shopper who finds unique items that can be converted into a completely new use. An example might be a consumer who buys an old lamp stand, detaches the lighting fixtures and attaches a large kitchen bowl in order to create a birdbath.
Repurposing can stretch as far as the imagination, Smart cited.
“Since moving to this location nearly three years ago, The Habitat ReStore has steadily grown thanks to our convenient location, ample parking and — most importantly — the generosity of the community,” Smart said.
The ReStore sells new and used building supplies, appliances, furniture, home decor, clothing, books and a variety of items whose size ranges from small to large. Items vary daily and are donated by individuals and businesses within the Cleveland and Bradley County community. Many of the contributions are unique.
One recent donation came from Whirlpool Cleveland Division which gave the ReStore a set of 36- and 40-foot light poles. The towering contributions were eventually purchased by Cleveland Utilities whose crews made slight modifications and are now using them to service areas of the city.
“These are the big, metal utility poles,” Smart said. “We made a lot of money that month and the city of Cleveland saved a lot of money so everybody was happy.”
Another significant part of the ReStore mission is to keep material out of the Bradley County Landfill for as long as possible. In Fiscal Year 2011-12, the ReStore kept 350 tons of material out of the landfill. In the same year, the discount retailer’s sales supported the construction of 10 homes in partnership with deserving families by Habitat for Humanity. Qualifying families help to build their homes using “sweat equity,” and they purchase the modest dwellings with no-interest loans.
Another unique item currently on the ReStore foor is a large section of stained glass that came from the chapel of the original Cherokee Park Hospital, the same facility that once operated as Cleveland Community Hospital and is now a component of SkyRidge Medical Center.
Because of its unique qualities, the stained glass is being included in a silent auction. The ReStore holds silent auctions for two-week periods on unusual donations that are considered higher prospects for resale as opposed to the retail floor. Customers place their bids and the high bidder is awarded the item. Bids will be accepted on the stained glass, and other items, through Saturday, July 14.
Smart said the ReStore has many community and business donors. One is the Don Ledford Automotive Center which is tearing down a former showroom as part of its business remodeling. The ReStore is being invited to claim furniture and other materials within the existing structure that can be sold on its retail floor. Other area businesses have given the Habitat retailer the same type of opportunity in past years.
“We want to be the first place people visit when they want to remodel or redecorate their homes,” Smart explained. “Customers from all areas of the county and beyond love the adventure of finding bargains and one-of-a-kind items in a fun shopping environment.”
Habitat for Humanity’s decision to expand the ReStore is the direct result of the community’s support, Smart said.
“We’ve just outgrown our capacity,” she noted. “Habitat for Humanity operates about 800 ReStores in the United States. Because of the size of Cleveland and Bradley County, we are considered rural, but we (Cleveland store) are performing at a mid-city level.”
Smartt added, “This community is very generous. We have outpaced (in donations and business sales) what the experts say we should be doing.”
The Habitat ReStore operates Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Donations are accepted during the same hours. Although most donations are delivered by the owners, Smart said larger contributions can be picked up by Habitat volunteers. Questions may be directed to Smart at the The Habitat ReStore office at 423-473-4610 or by emailing email@example.com.
Certain large items like console TVs, console stereos, pianos and pool tables cannot be accepted.
Smart said The Habitat ReStore mission is a simple one — to support Habitat for Humanity of Cleveland.
“Purchases from the Habitat for Humanity ReStore support the Habitat for Humanity of Cleveland’s mission of providing decent, affordable homes to qualified people in Bradley County while protecting the environment by diverting material from landfills,” she stressed.
The Habitat ReStore was launched in 2004 when it operated one day a week from a donated storehouse. In 2005, the retailer moved to the rented Charleston Hosiery Mill facility, and in 2008 the former Cinema Twin Theater was bought. Following an extensive remodeling, the new ReStore opened in 2009.