Hamilton Habitat for Humanity ReStore Offers Variety of Home and Building Items
SUPER SHOPPING SOURCE: “The store is open for everyone. This is a destination place, and customers are coming from all over the area, including Princeton. People know they can get a good price. There is always a good deal here,” says Annie Fox, resource development director, Habitat for Humanity Burlington and Mercer Counties. Shown are Habitat for Humanity personnel and Hamilton community representatives at the Hamilton Habitat for Humanity ReStore’s ribbon cutting in Independence Plaza, 2465 South Broad Street.
By Jean Stratton
Anew shopping opportunity is available at the Independence Plaza at 2465 South Broad Street in Hamilton.
Not only does it offer a wide variety of household items and building supplies at discounted prices, it is also a means to help the Habitat for Humanity program.
The Hamilton Habitat for Humanity ReStore is part of the retail operation, which provides funds to help support the overall Habitat for Humanity (HFH) program.
Established in 1976 in Americus, Georgia, HFH was founded by Millard and Linda Fuller, who developed the idea of ”partnership housing.”
The concept centered on those in need of adequate shelter working side by side with volunteers to build decent, affordable houses. They would be constructed at no profit. New homeowners’ house payments would be combined with no-interest loans provided by supporters and money earned by fundraising to create “The Fund for Humanity,” which would then be used to build more homes.
The organization’s work received widespread recognition when former President Jimmy Carter and his wife Rosalyn Carter became longtime Habitat supporters and volunteers.
Over the past 44 years, HFH International has grown to a point where it is now a presence in every state and in more than 70 countries worldwide, helping over 13 million people to have safe and affordable shelter.
In New Jersey, the program has helped residents in every county, and in Princeton, it has provided four houses. As a nonprofit organization, Habitat relies on donations from a variety of sources, including corporations, organizations, institutions, and individuals.
In 2006, the Habitat ReStore program became another way to support HFH. Proceeds from the stores support the housing projects. Currently, there are two stores in Mercer and Burlington counties: one in Maple Shade and now the second, in Hamilton.
“Our stores cover the overhead of the administrative operation and the building projects,” explains Annie Fox, resource development director, Habitat for Humanity Burlington and Mercer Counties. “It also has an environmental/green aspect. Some of the items are previously-owned so they are being recycled. And even in the case of the new items, they are being used rather than discarded, and added to landfills.”
The Hamilton ReStore opened in January, then had to close in March due to the state’s regulations regarding COVID-19. Since reopening last July, it has received enthusiastic support from customers of all ages, says Fox.
“We have families, college kids, a really big variety of people, and they know they can find a lot of different items and at excellent prices. We already have repeat customers, and more people are seeing what we have to offer.”
The ReStore offers a
spacious setting (20,000 square feet) in which to display the large selection of household and building supplies. Furniture, rugs, lamps, appliances, and kitchen and bath items are among the variety of products, as well as paint and plumbing supplies.
All items are donated by companies or individuals, and everything is in excellent condition. Discounted prices are available on all items, reports Fox.
“We check the retail price and cut it in half or even more. We also have frequent sales, including one on Black Friday after Thanksgiving. The most popular items in the store are rugs. All sizes and styles are available, and we have hundreds. They are displayed according to size, but customers need to sort through them because there are so many.”
Furniture is another big seller, and sofas (an especially large number), chairs, dining room tables, cabinets, and book shelves are all on display.
High quality kitchen items, such as Vitamix blenders, Farberware pots and pans, Le Creuset, and Kitchenaid items are available, as are washing machines, and bathroom vanities.
A selection of children’s toys and colorful crafts, assorted knickknacks, Christmas items, wrapping paper, gift bags, candles, and highly desirable collectible Santas at an exceptional price of $25 are all offered.
The ReStore is a great place both for browsing and buying, as it is filled with fun surprises as well as essentials for furnishing the house. The discounted prices cover a wide range, from under $20 to $100s for furniture.
Many customers stop by frequently which is advisable, since the inventory changes often, points out Fox. “We restock once a week. When items are donated, we keep them in our warehouse, and then distribute them to each store. We never know what will turn up. In the past, we have had items for pets — even a large dog crate. So it is good to come often to see what is available.”
The large store is staffed by seven full-time employees, who are knowledgeable about the products and readily help out and answer customers’ questions. In the past, volunteers also helped in the store, often to load and unload trucks, bring merchandise to the floor, and help with stock and inventory. Now, due to the virus, volunteers are not working in the store.
Masks are required for staff and customers, and people are careful about social distancing, as the virus remains an ever-present concern.
Annie Fox, who started as a volunteer with Habitat six years ago, is enthusiastic about the ReStore and its benefits. “It is an important way to support the Habitat program, and to provide people with an opportunity to purchase products at a really good price, and it is a way to help others. We now have 875 ReStores across the country, and we look forward to opening more.
“Also, when a homeowner moves into their new home, we have a Home Dedication program and give them a gift card for the store. I truly love seeing the families get their house, and everything comes full circle. Those homeowners give back and help HFH by working on others’ houses or as volunteers in the ReStore, when the virus is not an issue.
“And, in addition to helping people get their HFH home, our Habitat Construction staff and volunteers help low to moderate income people whose houses need repair — not just HFH homeowners, but all who need help. We began this about a year ago, when we realized the need. Our mission is to create affordable options and help the community.”
As resource development director, Fox is tasked with fundraising, which underlies much of Habitat’s ability to fulfill its mission. “This is always the challenge,” she notes, “and we welcome all the support, and keep working to get the word out.
“The people at HFH are very special, and I look forward to seeing our program grow, including our home buildings and our stores. We want even more customers to find out what great shopping opportunities are waiting for them in our ReStore!”
The Hamilton ReStore is open daily from 10 a.m to 6 p.m., with special 9 a.m. to 10 a.m. hours for high risk customers.
For more information, call (856) 439-6717. Website: www.hfhbmc.org/restore.