Habitats ReStore helps all

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Habitat for Humanitys retail resale store in Alexandria adheres to the same basic principle of the construction side of the organization, working towards better living environments across the area, only on a do-it-yourself basis.

Its called the Habitat ReStore, and they specialize in new and used building and home improvement materials to the general public. The warehouse-style store has sections for appliances, lighting, flooring, cabinets, and doors. Within each section are shelves of lighting fixtures, doors, hinges, ovens, bathtubs and toilets.
Some of the materials are new items from stores and contractors that over-ordered for certain projects, while other materials are donated from homeowners who are moving or doing their own home improvement projects.

Smoot Lumber is a big contributor, said James Snowden, an employee of Habitat for Humanity in Northern Virginia, who maintains the store. A lot of businesses donate when they have discontinued items, he said.

Marshall McLean did a major renovation to his home, adding about 2,400 square feet to the structure in the form of a second level and extension of an existing room. I got 65 percent of the stuff here, he said. McLean has six children and grew out of his existing house, so instead of moving, he drew up some plans and visited the ReStore. He had to buy materials ahead of time when they were available at the store, moving materials around from room to room as he went. If you dont buy it right then they might not have it later, he said.

His neighbor, Thomas Winborne, is presently collecting wood to rebuild his whole house. My whole kitchen came from here, Winborne said.

Bargains can be found
There are nearly 200 Habitat ReStores across the country returning as much as $250,000 per year to their local affiliates. They are employed by a small staff and volunteers from the neighboring communities. Glenn Levy is a volunteer from the Franconia area who worked at the ReStore since it opened three years ago. She sees a wide variety of items come through the door, including antiques and odd items that dont stay around long. Bargain hunters are wary of the store, too. They say if you miss a day, you miss a deal, Levy said. They keep a list of customers’ needs sometimes, and make a call when they get something that fits that description. The store has a list of items they dont take too, like mattresses, computers, paint and used carpet.

Mount Vernon resident Larry Hollett was remodeling at his home which meant getting rid of his washer and dryer since he was going with a stackable model. The appliances were in good condition and could have been sold in a yard sale. This way they can use it, it will help people out, he said.

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