Don’t be surprised if you walk through the doors of your local Habitat for Humanity ReStore and a vintage Coke machine is for sale.
There was one for sale at the Williamsburg location.
A real crystal ball atop an ornate stand, velvet pouch included, didn’t last long at the Newport News store.
Nor do housewares, some gently used, yet many brand new.
Leather and sectional sofas come and go quickly, too.
Refrigerators sell almost as fast as volunteers can put them out.
But the local Habitat ReStores don’t just give items a second chance.
In addition to being a shopper’s paradise, they leave you inspired about where your money goes.
The home improvement stores and donation centers are operated by local Habitat for Humanity organizations – the Peninsula and Greater Williamsburg affiliate here locally – who earmark 100% of sales proceeds to support Habitat for Humanity’s vision to make sure everyone in the community has a decent place to live.
Since 1976, Habitat for Humanity affiliates across the globe have helped more than 35 million people build or improve the place they call home, a number that includes 5.9 million from fiscal year 2020.
Shameka Brown and her two teenagers are some of the faces behind those statistics. Three days before Christmas, they moved into their house in Hampton built by Habitat for Humanity.
“It’s incredible; it’s our home!” Brown says. “I look forward to waking up in it every morning because it’s my home.”
Two years ago, Brown balanced three jobs in addition to being a mother. Friends urged her to apply to Habitat for Humanity’s first-time homebuyer program, which requires the new buyer to be an active participant in the actual building of a Habitat home as well as have steady income and good credit. Once selected, Habitat homeowners engage in “sweat equity,” helping build their homes and the homes of others. They must be willing and able to pay an affordable mortgage, which is cycled back into the program to build more homes locally.
Brown wasn’t selected the first time she applied, yet she continued to improve her qualifications and was approved to be a Habitat homebuyer the following year, 2019.
“It’s a journey I began on my own, and even though I got accepted into the partnership, I still have goals, and I can’t lose focus of that,” she said. “Even though I’m in the house, my finances still have to be intact. I still want to excel. I still want to move forward. There’s things I want to do with the house and I look forward to paying my monthly mortgage.”
While Brown grew up in a one-story ranch in Newport News, she never experienced the freedom home ownership provides. She’s already painted— her daughter’s room is purple and her son’s room a teal green — and plans are in the works for a backyard barbecue and a privacy fence.
“I just love to see my kids so excited,” she said. “It’s our home. This is our home. No one can say they’re selling it. No one can say we have to move out in 30 days so they can rent to somebody else. It’s good for me to know my children have stability.”
Shoppers returning to the Habitat ReStore after COVID-19 restrictions forced a two-month closure last spring help families like the Browns achieve home ownership. When the stores reopened on May 16, 2020, more than 120,000 customers flocked through the doors in the first four months alone.
“We were on pace before COVID hit to have our best year,” says Steve Russell, director of the Williamsburg store. “When we reopened, it was just like gangbusters. Our June and July sales were better than 2019. Then October saw better sales than we have seen since we opened 15 years ago. We are so appreciative of the community’s support during these tough times. All of our profits stay local to build affordable housing for families with lower incomes.”
Customers should feel good about safety and sanitation protocols in place due to COVID-19. Every hour workers sanitize touchpoints. Handwashing by employees is logged, and social distancing signs serve as reminders. Masks are mandatory.
Donations dropped off at the stores have limited contact, too, with drive-up and drop-off areas available.
If you have donations too large in size or quantity to drop off at the store, the Habitat ReStore operates four large trucks and offers FREE pickup of your donations. However, due to the pandemic, employees are no longer able to enter the home.
The Habitat ReStore helps to protect the environment by recycling, reusing and repurposing items and materials. When a gently-used building material or household product is donated to the Habitat ReStore and then sold at a discount to a community member that needs it, that item is recycled and kept out of the landfill.
The Habitat for Humanity ReStore in Williamsburg is located in Colony Square Shopping Center, 1303 Jamestown Road. The Newport News ReStore is at 371 Chatham Drive, near Lowe’s. Hours are 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. Monday through Saturday. Both stores are closed on Sunday. Donations to the Habitat ReStore are tax deductible.
To learn more about the Habitat ReStore, how to donate and when to shop, visit ReStorePGW.org.
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