Thursday, September 29, 2022

This Williamsburg ReStore is the most successful in Virginia. Here’s why

The Williamsburg ReStore is one of the most profitable in the country. (WYDaily/Sarah Fearing)
The Williamsburg ReStore is one of the most profitable in the country. (WYDaily/Sarah Fearing)

The assortment of patio furniture, planters and rocking chairs that greet guests between the brick columns out front of the Williamsburg Habitat ReStore might clue in savvy shoppers that savings can be found once they pass through the sliding glass doors.

What’s not apparent, or advertised, is that the Habitat ReStore in the Colony Square Shopping Center on Jamestown Road is the highest-grossing restore out of 27 in the state in fiscal year 2017.

The store also ranked top 20 nationwide.

“That’s due to the generosity of our donors who are interested in recycling, reusing and reducing, and therefore they want to drop items off,” said Janet V. Green, Habitat for Humanity Peninsula & Greater Williamsburg CEO. “We are then able to return those donations to the community.”

There are nearly 900 Habitat ReStores across the country, and each one takes in donated goods and resells them at steep discounts — typically between 30 and 90 percent off retail price depending on condition, said Steve Russell, director of ReStore Finance and Growth.

“It’s not an exact science to get it right, but we try our best to do so,” he said. “If somebody comes in and says, ‘I can find this hose for the same price or $5 less,’ we’ll readjust accordingly. We have some pretty savvy shoppers.”

After employee salaries, rent and other overhead expenses are subtracted, the entire net profit for the Williamsburg and Newport News stores are used to build and renovate homes for families in Greater Williamsburg and across the Peninsula.

Habitat for Humanity Peninsula & Greater Williamsburg has been working to provide housing since 1986, and they are approaching their 200th home built in the region. The Williamsburg ReStore has been open since April 2012.

The Williamsburg ReStore is one of the most profitable in the country. (WYDaily/Sarah Fearing)
The Williamsburg ReStore is one of the most profitable in the country. (WYDaily/Sarah Fearing)

The stimulus for the success, Russell said, is the supportive community that both makes donations to and shops in the ReStore.

The store is typically open six days a week, and on any given day they will receive 50 drop-off donations and make a dozen or more pick-ups in their truck.

“Times that by six – that adds up to a lot of stuff,” Russell said. “Restores are generally a reflection of the community that they’re in. You want to put your restore in an attractive donor market so you can get those higher end donations.”

Last month the Williamsburg ReStore set a record 8,000 individual transactions, Green said.

More than 70 regular volunteers worked a total of 15,000 hours to make the store’s charitable mission possible through working the cash register, fixing up furniture, and serving on the donation dock or sales floor.

The Williamsburg market, with its high average income, provides a constant flow of incoming donations.

Inside, customers are first met with arm chairs, couches, loveseats and more. Walking down the aisle to the right will take shoppers past a selection of desks and dressers before they reach kitchen utilities and cabinets.

To the left shoppers can scout dining room table sets, decorations and other home goods.

The wide selection and below-market prices are quite an enticement, even far beyond the Historic Triangle.

“The reality is shoppers that shop these kind of retail – consignment stores, secondhand stores, thrift stores, restores – they’ll go to you if you have stuff at good prices,” Russell said. “They’ll travel 20 minutes, 45 minutes, an hour. They come from all over the places to shop these stores.”

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