Habitat for Humanity Opens Discount Building-Supply Store in Anchorage, Alaska

Call it the thrift store for do-it-yourselfers.

Nov. 8—Call it the thrift store for do-it-yourselfers.

Habitat for Humanity, a nonprofit group that builds affordable homes for low-income families, has opened a "ReStore" in Anchorage selling building materials, including paints and stains, lumber, appliances, cabinets, hardware and plumbing and electrical supplies.

Though some of it is used, a lot of the merchandise available at the ReStore is brand new, donated by area retailers, contractors and individuals, who can write off its value as a charitable tax deduction.

The new items — which range from wood stain to rakes, shovels and other garden tools — can be had for half what they'd cost at a regular store. Used items are sold at an even deeper discount, said Colin Hogan, the ReStore's manager.

The store is in a small warehouse at 5023 Cordova St., just down the road a piece from the Lowe's and Home Depot stores on Tudor Road. Although it's open, Hogan, the store's only paid employee, is relying on volunteers to help him put on the finishing touches before its "grand opening" later this month.

"We haven't added all the bells and whistles or put the spit shine on it yet," Hogan said.

Even so, the shelves and floor space in the 5,000-square-foot store are filling up fast.

Among the items available are small cans of Behr-brand wood stain, priced at $3 apiece. Spenard Builders Supply, the donor, was selling them at its stores for $6.99, Hogan said.

Other new items at the ReStore include a wide assortment of floor and table lamps — displayed on top of a couple of desks, which also are for sale — miscellaneous nuts, bolts and other hardware as well as lumber.

Some of the new items were discontinued at area retail stores and made their way to the ReStore in part because it was simpler for the retailers to donate them than to try to unload them in a clearance sale or ship them back to the manufacturer, Hogan said.

That's part of the reason Browns Electrical Supply — which donated the lamps and other lighting equipment — decided to do so, said Chip Brown, vice president of the family-run business.

"But the biggest factor is giving it to somebody who can use it," Brown said.

The Browns have been involved with Habitat for Humanity for years, he said, donating electrical supplies as well as a piece of property to the group's home-building program.

Used items also are a big part of the ReStore's inventory, up to and including the kitchen sink.

"It's a little dated, but there's nothing wrong with this," Hogan said, peeking inside a shiny black gas-powered range and oven. "It was going to end up in the landfill."

Near the loading bay doors, boxes of hardware (donated by Wal-Mart) obscured a couple of used table saws.

"This setup, brand new, would cost you $750 to $800," Hogan said, pointing to a Ridgid 10-inch table saw. The ReStore's price: $350.

Of course, the type and amount of merchandise available at the ReStore will vary based on what's been donated. So it won't be an alternative to the Lowe's or Home Depot as a source for everything the do-it-yourselfer needs to complete a project.

"We want to have enough of a variety of things so that so that you'll at least be able to find something at a great value," Hogan said.

After covering overhead costs, all the money raised by the ReStore sales goes toward Habitat for Humanity's home-building program. The group has ReStores in 37 other states.

Since it started building here in 1992, the group has built 38 houses in Anchorage and expects to have completed another six by the end of this year, said Janis Wild, its Anchorage development director.

—Location: 5023 Cordova St. (between International and Tudor)
—Hours: Tuesday through Saturday, noon to 6 p.m.
—Phone: 743-8060
—Web site: http://www.hfhanchorage.org/restore

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