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The Newberg facility launches a website where customers can view items for sale.

NEWBERG GRAPHIC: GARY ALLEN - The Newberg Habitat for Humanity ReStore closed on March 13, but officials are hoping a new online presence will convince people looking for myriad building-related items to seek out the housing ministry's new website.The Newberg Habitat for Humanity ReStore closed March 13, but officials are hoping a new online presence will convince people looking for myriad building-related items to seek out the housing ministry's new website.

Launched May 14, shopnewbergrestore.org already has proven popular. The launch was "really positive," said Megan Hanselman, the organization's volunteer coordinator. "We had over 500 visitors to the site the first day. We have had quite a few orders already."

The brainchild of the organization's staff and the ReStore Advisory Committee, the online site joins one launched in Portland recently as well.

As the pandemic raged on, it became clear that Habitat had to do something to ameliorate the loss of revenue since the COVID-19 shutdown, which Hanselman estimated at about $30,000 by mid-May. The store on Meridian Street grossed about $240,000 in 2019, with 52% of that amount poured into the organization's house-building program.

Plans are afoot to open the physical presence of the Newberg ReStore, possibly in June.

"Staff and our ReStore Advisory Committee have been meeting weekly (via Zoom) with the goal of reopening the store in June," Hansleman said. "We are aiming for a soft opening June 5, but a lot will depend on when we can get the store retrofitted to meet the state guidelines for retail establishments."

Regardless, the online version of the store will remain open once the brick-and-mortar location opens its doors.

"We feel the store reaches a segment of customers that we may have been missing before — folks who cannot go out or who prefer to shop from the comfort of their living room," Hanselman said. "New items will be added to the store weekly. Any item that is listed on the store site will also be available for purchase in person. We are implementing a new tagging method and point of sale system that will allow us to instantly update inventory and avoid inadvertently selling any item twice."

The transition from a strictly physical store to an online presence has had its pitfalls, but has been well worth the effort, Hanselman concluded.

"Venturing into the online world of e-commerce has been an exciting and challenging experience," she said. "Being a somewhat old-fashioned affiliate, running an online store seems a little out of the norm for us, but we are very excited to see where this journey takes us. So far, our customers have been very supportive and patient as we work out all the kinks."


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