New Habitat store to fund construction

Morgan Day

Habitat for Humanity of Portage County is seeing an increase in material donations which they can’t use to build Habitat houses.

The group can only use new materials for the homes, so they kept the furniture, building materials and other items in the quickly-filling Habitat for Humanity warehouse in Ravenna. The organization held the grand opening of ReStore on Saturday at 3391 State Route 59, Ravenna. The store will sell the donated items to compensate for the increase and help fund the four or five houses it builds a year.

“Our vision is, within five years, we should be able to make enough money to fund two of the houses,” said Michael Barnes, operations director for Habitat for Humanity of Portage County’s new ReStore warehouse.

Habitat works with partner families by helping them find credit counseling, and it sells the houses it builds — which are worth about $125,000 — for about $60,000. The organization also provides interest-free loans to partner families.

According to 2000 Census Bureau information, the home ownership rate for Kent was 37.8 percent, compared to nearly 70 percent in Ohio.

Barnes said he got the idea to open a ReStore in Portage County after he saw one in Medina County about a year ago. The store, which was only open on Saturdays, was still making a considerable amount of money. He said there are about 500 in the United States right now.

“We keep getting calls asking us if we take furniture, if we take appliances, if we take toilets and sinks, which we didn’t because we put all new stuff in the Habitat houses,” Barnes said. “But by opening ReStore, it’s a great way for people to recycle household items that might otherwise end up in a dump.”

Portage County is following a growing trend, said Melanie Schumacher, office manager for Habitat for Humanity of Portage County.

“Habitats all over the country have been opening these,” Schumacher said. “It’s a way for local Habitat affiliates to sell products we can’t use in our (own) houses.”

She said ReStore sells furniture, appliances and anything that would go into building a house. Items sold during the first days of ReStore’s opening were toilets, sinks, couches, lamps, washers and dryers, desks, cribs and microwaves.

Habitat’s donations of these items were becoming too great to house at its warehouse at 6630 Cleveland Rd., Ravenna, so this seemed like a perfect time to expand, Schumacher said.

“It’s something that was just crying out to be done here for us,” she said.

She said ReStore’s location is ideal because it’s close to Kent State. The store offers landlords reasonable rates on household items to keep up their rental properties.

Also, Barnes said being directly beside the used clothing center is beneficial because both buildings are owned by Family and Community Services, which allows Habitat to use the 3,100-square-foot facility for a small charge.

“In essence, it’s rent-free,” Barnes said.

The warehouse used to be a produce store but was renovated by Habitat volunteers and completed in four weekends.

Tim Davis, a Habitat family member in line for a house, was one volunteer who helped prepare the building for its grand opening. He said it took a lot of effort to get the warehouse ready, but all the power-washing, dismantling and painting was well worth it.

“What I am excited about is all the people this is going to help in the future,” Davis said.

Store hours are 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Thursdays and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays. For more information on donating or volunteering, call the store at (330) 296-8005.

Contact public affairs reporter Morgan Day at [email protected].