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ReStore Business Is Booming

Nichole Dupont
iBerkshires Staff
03:47PM / Thursday, July 29, 2010

  Photo courtesy of CBHFH
Anne Christopolis, center, and ReStore volunteers pick up, clean, sort and sell donated building materials. The ReStore is open for donations on Wednesday mornings and for sales on Fridays and Saturdays. Find out how to donate or volunteer here
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — One man's trash is another man's treasure, or so the saying goes.

If so, there's plenty of treasure at Central Berkshire Habitat for Humanity's ReStore (located at 70 Jefferson Place), which is  transforming donated building materials and furniture into housing opportunities for Berkshire County residents.

The store opened its recycled doors on March 6 of this year and since then, according to Habitat Executive Director Carolyn Valli, business has been booming.

"We have quite a mixed bag of people coming in here," she said. "Homeowners, local contractors, people from the neighborhood and other nonprofits. There's something in here for everyone and we get new stuff every week."

Inventory at the ReStore is constantly moving (thanks to volunteer pick-up drivers who donate their time, muscle and box trucks) as donations pour in. Lighting fixtures, cabinets, doors, washing machines, dryers, flooring material, hardware fixtures and nonupholstered furniture fill the nearly 7,000 square foot space that the Habitat rents (on a sliding scale) from John Pariseau, a heating contractor and the ReStore's neighbor. In fact, donations are pouring in so quickly that Anne Christopolis and her team of volunteers can hardly keep up.

"We have between 20 and 25 volunteers," she said. "Some work four hours a month, some work every week. We absolutely need more volunteers to help on donation day [Wednesday] with pricing, cleaning and arranging the donations, and on Fridays and Saturdays helping customers. People that have some knowledge about building and plumbing."

While Christopolis is grateful for the dedication and experience level of the ReStore volunteers, she said she would like to see more people donating their time so that the store can extend its hours and be available both as a resource for the community and an increased source of revenue for Habitat houses being constructed in the area.

"Most of us here are all over 60 years old," she said. "A lot of our people are retired contractors, which is great. But most of us are on the board and we thought that we would start the store and then have other volunteers take over. So far, that has yet to happen. We're more successful than we thought we'd be. It's busy for us all of the time."

Great business at the ReStore means great opportunity for those who are approved for a Habitat home. Valli said that in the five months since the ReStore has been open it has brought in $45,000, all money that goes directly into the construction of the now three projects that are already under way. And the benefits keep rolling in.

"It's so wonderful here," Valli said. "The materials and products is less than half price of what's new at a retail store. Every time I go in there, there is something new. It's like a treasure hunt."

In addition to quality items and affordable prices, according to Valli and Christopolis, the ReStore embraces green building (and living) and collaboration within all community service areas.

"These things are not filling up landfills," Valli said. "Plus, there's a tax benefit when people donate materials, although, I have to say, not many people really seem concerned with getting the receipt. It's not just about the tax donation. It's about benefiting the whole community."




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