Habitat for Humanity expands ReStore concept in Connecticut

Efforts to add more affordable housing to the state — and promote the reuse of furniture, appliances, and building materials at the same time — continue to grow across Connecticut thanks to outlet expansions. Habitat for Humanity ReStore.

There are eight ReStore locations statewide, with the addition of a store in Vernon this month. Other locations include stores in Wallingford, Cromwell, Stratford and two in Danbury.

The ReStore concept began in 1992 in Austin, Texas. There are now more than 900 across the country, according to Habitat for Humanity officials.

The range of items for sale is constantly changing and how the organization’s local affiliates use the profits varies by store.

Richard Desautels, who is the manager of Habitat for Humanity’s Coastal Fairfield County ReStore location in Stratford, said gently used furniture “makes up a very large portion” of the store’s sales.

“We also get building materials like flooring and windows,” he said. “Windows that were ordered incorrectly or had the order cancelled. We get donations from small businesses, large businesses, and we have a few forestry companies that donate to us regularly.

The 45,000-square-foot store at 1785 Stratford Avenue is one of the organization’s largest in the northeast, Desautels said.

The type of shopper who frequents ReStores is as eclectic as the range of products available.

“We have antique dealers coming; we’re getting treasure hunters and since the pandemic started we’ve had people buying furniture and building materials because orders they placed at other retailers haven’t arrived due to issues supply chain,” said Desautels.

“We have people looking for bargains so they can stretch their money a bit more. And we receive a lot of set designers from television and film productions who come regularly.

Larraine Moody, CEO of Habitat for Humanity’s North Central Connecticut affiliate, said the ReStore stores in Vernon and Bloomfield, like their other stores, “operate on a cash-and-carry basis.”

“We don’t do layaways,” Moody said. “If you see something you like, I tell my customers to buy it. Because if you wait and come back later, it might not be there anymore.

The type of shopper who frequents ReStores is as eclectic as the range of products available.

“You get the full spectrum,” she said. “You get the bargain hunters, and you also get people who come from subsidized housing.”

Carolyn Vermont, general manager of Habitat for Humanity’s Coastal Fairfield County affiliate, said proceeds from the Stratford store support the organization’s mission to build new homes.

“We don’t do a lot of rehab,” she says. “We build an average of 10 to 12 homes a year.

Since launching the Coastal Fairfield subsidiary in 1985, the local group has built 277 new homes. Most new homes are being built in Bridgeport, although Desautels said the local branch has two new homes under construction in Stratford.

By contrast, Habitat for Humanity’s North Central Connecticut affiliate focuses primarily on rehabilitating existing properties, Moody said.

luther.turmelle@hearstmediact.com

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