Donate, buy, reuse, repeat
The latest business coming to East Multnomah County has a mission that differs from the rest of the market.
The soon-to open Gresham ReStore isn't focused on the bottom line, but instead will help the community reuse donated materials and furniture while supporting the charitable efforts of the Portland Metro Habitat for Humanity.
"We are trying to support the community," said Joe Connell, vice president of Retail Operations for Habitat. "It's not about making money, it's about changing people's lives."
Habitat's ReStores accept appliances, furniture, roofing materials, new and used paints, tools, hardware, lumber, flooring, lawn and garden decorations, doors and windows, and much more. ReStore helps divert thousands of tons of reusable materials from the landfills. It then sells those items for about 50 percent of retail price, using the money to build homes for families in need across the region.
Once open the Gresham ReStore, located at 610 N.E. 181st Ave. in the heart of Rockwood, will be the largest Habitat location west of Denver and north of Oakland. The store will join three other locations in Portland, Beaverton and Vancouver. The latest location will easily be able to handle the large amount of donations and shopping expected, with 27,650-square-feet of space available.
The construction and remodel is ongoing, so there is no firm date for an official opening. Volunteers and staff members are hard at work installing LED lighting, stocking the shelves and painting the walls. It's a group effort to have the location open as soon as possible.
"East County is underserved in many ways, and there are very few reuse and recycle places," Connell said. "That is why we are excited to open this new location, because there is nothing like it in the area."
And while people will have to wait to shop at the Gresham ReStore, they began officially accepting donations on Monday, May 1. Donations can be made from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, and 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Saturdays. Before going, it's best to check the website, www.pdxrestore.org, for what items can't be accepted.
For example, the store is unable to accept electronics and heavily damaged items.
"A good rule of thumb is, if it breaks your heart to throw it away, give us a call," Connell said.
Habitat chose Rockwood for the new ReStore because of the group's goals of supporting lower-income regions with affordable housing projects.
"I am pleased to welcome Habitat for Humanity's ReStore to Gresham," said Gresham Mayor Shane Bemis. "Not only is ReStore a great place to find deals on home improvements and 'DIY' projects, it supports Habitat's important mission of empowering families through homeownership."
This past year the local ReStores took in more than 40,000 donations from individuals and business partners. The stores raised enough money to build 15 Habitat homes and diverted 6,300 tons of reusable materials from landfills. The new location will only help increase those numbers.
"Each of our stores is a little different. They tend to reflect the community they are in," said Brieana Weaver, who will be the manager of the Gresham location after two-and-a-half years of experience running the Washington County location. "Donations typically stay in the neighborhood where they were made."
With 60 to 80 donations expected daily, it's impossible to know exactly what will be in stock. Regulars at the other locations often will peruse the aisles twice a week to find new gems.
"Coming to a ReStore is like a treasure hunt," Connell said. "What makes it fun is you never know what you will find."
The ReStore will be a good place to volunteer, with opportunities available to share time while developing new job skills.
There will be a small crew of paid staff on hand, but expectations are that about 60 percent of the work will be done by volunteers.
In addition, true to the purpose of the store, many elements within the ReStore are built using recycled materials. The wooden frame of the front cashier's desk is made from donated wood from The ReBuilding Center and Sperry Shoes.
Everyone is working hard to have the location ready for the grand opening, although the precise date everything will be finished is still in flux. But judging from the many people who have come up to the front of the store to peer in, the opening will be exciting for all.
"Our volunteers and staff love interacting with people as they come up," said Martha Cerna, communications and marketing manager for Habitat. "It's going to be a very friendly environment."