Senior Director of ReStore Operations Group Drew Meyer talks about how the shop in Lawrenceville gives back to local communities through Habitat for Humanity. (Staff Photo: Meghan Kotowski)
LAWRENCEVILLE — In a nondescript strip mall on Riverside Parkway, there are several bargain shops offering clothes, jewelry and other fashionable goods.
In the middle of it all, there is a store selling everything from cabinets and tiles to dressers and bunks beds. It’s the Gwinnett Habitat for Humanity’s ReStore, where the funds raised are given back to the nonprofit.
“The store is not just selling and buying things. It’s more being a part of something bigger,” said Senior Director of ReStore Operations Group Drew Meyer.
The ReStore provides individuals and businesses a way to donate and purchase new or gently used household goods and building materials. Proceeds generated from the sale of the items help families seeking decent, affordable housing in Gwinnett County.
“We feel like the ReStore is the face of the affiliate to the community because obviously if you’re building you’re connected, but what if you can’t go build?” Meyer said. “This whole thing is donor driven. We have to find a way to engage with more donors as we spread out. It’s easier for large donors to interact with us because they can give us a call and we can share the items around all of the ReStores.”
The Lawrenceville location has been open for business for three years selling home improvement goods such as furniture, decor, building materials of all types including tiles, doors and windows, appliances, lighting, plumbing fixtures and tools.
Since not every piece of material donated is always in perfect condition, the staff of ReStore has thought of new ways to advertise the goods.
“There’s some really cool things here that you can re-purpose, re-use, recycle. All those things are part of what we do,” Meyer said. “We would love for people to give us the before and after (with these projects), so we can create a space here for others to get (craft) ideas.”
Several colleges and artists have used the materials to make works of art to sell in the store.
At the end of the day, the funds are to help other people in the community Meyer said.
“The one thing we try to focus on are the unique things. Each ReStore has its own personality,” he said. “It’s all about the quality and quantity of donations. We talked a little bit about the ‘Virtuous Circle’ — that’s how many people benefit. The donor gets a tax deduction, customer gets a great bargain and what we raise goes right back into the community raising homes and hope, which we think is really powerful.”
For those who don’t know about Habitat for Humanity, the nonprofit builds houses for those in need. The new residences aren’t completely free for the recipient though. They put in hard work, too.
“Each family needs to give so many sweat equity hours. It takes a year normally,” Meyer said. “You learn how to make repairs around the house, how to balance a checkbook, how to save money.”
The positive changes in the families can be seen at through the generations, the senior director said.
“I’ve been a volunteer for a long time (before working for Habitat International) and I love it because of the impact you have on families because it’s really multi-generational,” Meyer said. “Especially for the children. The kids have a stable home, they can study, they can build friendships. We’ve been at this for the past 35 years, so we’ve got the history of what happens over the generations.”
For more information, visit www.gwinnettrestore.org.