ReStore open for business

The ReStore in Grand Forks is the first of its kind for HFHSEBC. The organization plans to build two more in the near future.

Eric Anderson

After some unforeseen missteps along the way, the Habitat for Humanity ReStore in Grand Forks is open for business.

The ReStore was originally going to be in the Multi-Agency Accommodation Planning (MAAP) building on Riverside Drive with their partners but due to plumbing issues had to find another spot until those issues could be dealt with.

The organization was able to open up in a temporary location at 136 Sagamore Road and has been open since Sept. 17 of this year.

“It’s been slow,” said Eric Anderson, store manager. “We’ve got all the issues that start-ups usually have: building up inventory, especially seeing as all our inventory is based on donations. We don’t buy anything; we don’t trade for anything. Our donations are our one and only source for our inventory. And, of course, we’re a little bit out of the way so we don’t have walk in traffic.”

Anderson said that people have to learn where they are, which is on Sagamore Avenue past the City Works yard, right next to the mini-storage and in the same building as Jazzercise.

Once people learn the location and see the great deals they keep coming back, said Anderson.

The ReStore is operated by Habitat for Humanity Southeast B.C. (HFHSEBC) with the primary objective of raising money to build safe and affordable housing for those who may otherwise not afford it.

After a recent merger between Habitat for Humanity Boundary (Grand Forks) and Habitat for Humanity West Kootenay (Castlegar/Nelson), HFHSEBC now operates from Rock Creek straight through to the Alberta border and north to Golden. Former executive director Rick Friesen said the organization has built a combined total of 19 homes in Greenwood, Grand Forks, Nelson and Castlegar with a 20th project currently built in Cranbrook.

“Habitat homes are sold at fair market value (a hand up, not a hand out), with an interest free mortgage, and mortgage payments that do not exceed 25 per cent of the homeowner’s income,” he said. The homes are built by volunteers using donated material.

The ReStore in Grand Forks is the first of its kind for HFHSEBC. The organization plans to build two more in the near future.

“This is the first ReStore in the Kootenays,” said Anderson. “There are 12 or 13 other ReStores throughout B.C. We’re the newest one in Canada that I’m aware of.”

Anderson said the ReStore carries basically anything to do with your house, whether it’s inside or outside.

“Whether it’s building materials or appliances or anything like that,” said Anderson. “We have corporate donors that donate us new product that has been discontinued or been returned or anything like that. From private donors we take anything that would be classified as gently used as far as furniture, appliances, leftover building materials.”

The ReStore does not take any mattress or unframed glass at this time. They want appliances that are seven years old or newer, Anderson added.

The store relies strictly on volunteers, other than the manager, to help operate. Anderson said they are always looking for new volunteers.

“We try to work people on four-hour shifts either morning shift or afternoon shift,” he said.

Anderson added there are several different positions such as cashier, light cleaning, receiving and repairing.

Another major objective for the ReStore is to keep objects out of the landfill.

Anderson said that in 2013, Habitat ReStores in Canada kept an estimated 26,650 metric tonnes out of the landfill.

“Our third objective is to provide a good product to people at a very reasonable price,” he said.

“Sometimes we’re targeting between 30 and 70 per cent less than you’d pay at retail. The people that have found us and been here are great; they’ve been very happy. Any person we’ve seen here, we’ve seen again and again.”

To volunteer or for any other information please call the ReStore at 250-442-2720.