NEW TO YOU

The wraparound sofa sets, stylish wooden dressers and plush recliners filled the showroom like a front-line furniture store.

Refrigerators in off-white, stainless steel and jet black line an entire wall off to the side. Ceiling fans and light fixtures, patio furniture and kitchen tables are scattered throughout the building.

Local Habitat for Humanity officials are hoping these gently used items will add up to new homes for needy families in the area.

After years of searching for a building and fixing the available option, Habitat for Humanity of Johnson County is ready to open its local ReStore branch this month.

The ReStore will serve as an outlet for salvaged building materials, gently used furniture, appliances and other home items to be resold, as well as helping raise money to support future builds for needy local families.

“We’ve been collecting stuff for 2½ years,” said LeeAnn Wilbur, executive director of Habitat for Humanity of Johnson County. “It’s a big win for us to finally be open.”

ReStore is a concept that Habitat for Humanity chapters have employed throughout the country. The chapters can sell used and new furniture, home accessories, building materials and appliances to the public at a discounted price. Proceeds are used to build homes in the community.

Since 2006, Habitat for Humanity of Johnson County has built 15 homes for families who otherwise could not afford one, selling the houses to them at an affordable rate.

Johnson County officials had been trying to open a ReStore since 2013, without being able to find a location that worked.

But the search has ended after finding an available space in Whiteland.

The building offers 10,000 square feet of space for displaying the recycled and restored items, said Kerri Faulkner Hartwell, director of ReStore operations for Habitat for Humanity of Johnson County.

“It was very ReStore-ready, with great retail space and great storage space,” she said. “It had two overhead doors, the parking we needed and great visibility off (U.S.) 31.”

Habitat for Humanity signed its lease on the new location in June, and officials took possession of the building on Oct. 1 and started tailoring it to their needs.

Organizers had to remove a stage to level out the existing floor, paint the interior and tear out carpet and other flooring. A driveway around the back of the building was reworked so people could pull their vehicles around and easily donate items.

An appliance-testing center, with electrical outlets that are compatible with dryers, washers, refrigerators and stoves, helps volunteers check each donation to ensure it still works.

A new counter will serve as the checkout area.

Funding to make these improvements came from money that Habitat for Humanity has saved for the ReStore project, as well as from grant money.

With the help of $35,000 in grants from the Johnson County Community Foundation, the Branigin Foundation and Old National Foundation, the organization has been able to purchase a box truck to move larger items from donors.

“We try to limit it to things that are too large for people to get here in their vehicle,” Hartwell said. “Large furniture, appliances and other things that people can’t get in, we can pick them up.”

Volunteers are finalizing the organization of the store, grouping vanities, sinks, showers, cabinets and other items together for easier shopping.

A bright blue cast-iron sink, a commercial refrigerator and brand-new bathroom fixtures are some of the more unique items that have come in.

“We’ve been very fortunate with our donations. People are surprised by not just the quantity but the quality of it,” Hartman said. “This isn’t ‘dump your junk.’ If not one wants it, it doesn’t help us further our mission.”

Hartman and assistant director Patrick Tisdale have been taking the box truck around the area to pick up additional items for the showroom.

The shop will be open Thursdays and Fridays each week, with thoughts on eventually adding Saturdays to the slate. Volunteers will accept donations during the same business hours. The rest of the week, officials will use the box truck to pick up new items, Hartwell said.

Habitat for Humanity has plans to open the ReStore slowly. An initial showcase for board members earlier this week will be followed by a soft opening through the end of the year. By mid-January, the store will have its official grand opening.

“We’re afraid that in the holidays it will get lost in everything else. So that’s why it’s just word-of-mouth for now,” Wilbur said.

At a glance

Habitat for Humanity of Johnson County

ReStore

Where: 6720 U.S. 31 North, Whiteland.

Hours: 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Thursday and Fridays

What: A nonprofit home improvement store and donation center that sells new and gently used furniture, home accessories, building materials and appliances to the public at a reduced price. Proceeds are used to build homes.

Director: Kerri Faulkner Hartwell

Donations: Any time during business hours

What’s accepted:

  • Gently used appliances
  • Wooden furniture
  • Cabinets
  • Tools
  • Vanities
  • Doors
  • Building supplies
  • Toilets

Items not accepted:

  • Paint
  • Hazardous materials
  • Carpet
  • Fabric-covered furniture
  • Mattresses and box springs

Pull Quote

“We’ve been very fortunate with our donations. People are surprised by not just the quantity but the quality of it. This isn’t ‘dump your junk.’ If not one wants it, it doesn’t help us further our mission.”

Kerri Faulkner Hartwell, director of ReStore operations for Habitat for Humanity of Johnson County

Author photo
Ryan Trares is a reporter for the Daily Journal. He can be reached at rtrares@dailyjournal.net or 317-736-2727.