ReStoring hope: Shop's profits help build homes in Gwinnett

Photo by Tori Boone

Photo by Tori Boone

LAWRENCEVILE -- Habitat for Humanity recently opened a ReStore retail store in Lawrenceville, the first in Gwinnett. It uses profits from selling donated furniture and home supplies to help build homes in Gwinnett.

The store, the 705th of its kind in the nation, accepts donations from individuals and businesses, cleans them and then puts them on sale for 90 days. All profits go to the Gwinnett County Habitat for Humanity affiliate.

Although the store looks small from the outside, it's actually a 22,000-square-foot warehouse-like room filled with carefully organized furniture and supplies. Eighty-five percent of the stock was donated by individuals, the other 15 by businesses.

Sherry Christian, who is moving from Loganville to Flowery Branch, stopped by the store while shopping nearby.

"I do like it if you can find good furniture at a good deal," Christian said. "I'm all for these kind of stores, especially if they help somebody."

The Gwinnett Board for Habitat for Humanity spent almost 20 months searching for a location before settling on a unit on the shopping complex in the corner of Riverside Parkway and Duluth Highway.

Store Manager Don Milligan says spreading the name is the biggest challenge in running the store.

"Everyone knows about Habitat for Humanity but ReStore is a new concept. People are like 'Huh? What's ReStore? What do you guys do?'" Milligan said.

They have been spreading the name through fliers, newspaper advertisements and word of mouth. Gwinnett Habitat ReStore also plans to publicize by partnering with organizations like Amigos for Christ and the Gwinnett Chamber of Commerce.

Unlike similar businesses, ReStore has a large amount of furniture in its stock and a truck to pick up donations. A crew is planned to remove furniture during home remodeling projects to take as donations.

The store depends heavily on volunteers who arrange and clean furniture, unload and load the truck and even greet customers.

Nassir Adam of Atlanta volunteers for the store to help his sister who is trying to get a Lawrenceville home through Habitat for Humanity. The organization requires homeowners to participate in the process. Adam plans to volunteer 300 hours and was pleased by what the ReStore does.

"Instead of wasting all these supplies, people can use it. A lot of people like buying this stuff, why waste it?" Adam said.

The management relies on six to 10 volunteers to come on busy days.

"In this heat, some (Habitat for Humanity) volunteers might rather work in here than out in the 110-degree heat," said Jennifer McKnight, the store's assistant manager.

Tomorrow the store is having its grand opening and ribbon cutting from 9 a.m. to noon. Lawrenceville musician Rudy Vaughn will perform and 104.7 The Fish will do a live stream from the event.

For more information about the store, visit www.gwinnettrestore.org.