ReStoring Our Community



There’s no denying that home improvement is expensive. We’ve all entertained a vague suspicion at the checkout counter of a hardware store that there must be a better way to buy project supplies. It’s not just the expense that bothers us; it’s the sensation that somewhere in our throw-away society, someone is sending to the landfill exactly what we need. In response to increasing wastefulness, Habitat for Humanity opened the ReStore, which is impacting Genesee County with a truly restorative business model.

The ReStore’s innovative operation begins with donations. Both individuals and businesses can drop off or schedule pick-up of a long list of items, which the ReStore then sells at an enormous discount. Construction materials, working appliances, operational lighting, hardware and certain furniture items can all find a second life at the ReStore. “Responsible reuse is our goal here,” said Margaret Kato, Executive Director of the Genesee County Habitat for Humanity, “and one of the ReStore’s primary benefits is that it prevents perfectly useable items from going into the landfill.” People like ReStore Manager Greg Mosley clean, appraise and price each item before moving it from the unloading bay to the floor. Turnover of wares is very high, because cost is very low. “When people buy from the ReStore, they save anywhere from 50-90% off retail prices,” Greg reports, “so we don’t have many items that stick around for long. Some things, like cabinets, disappear in a single day. We just can’t keep them in stock.” Another item that “flies off the shelves,” according to Greg, is Everybody’s Paint, or E-Paint. Michigan-made from recycled latex paint and available in 20+ trendy colors, the price per can is only $10.50, about half what you’d pay at a hardware store. “The low cost of supplies is a great asset to Genesee County and Flint in particular, where people cannot afford to pay retail prices for their home improvement projects,” said Greg proudly. “The ReStore empowers people to be able to make positive changes in their environments.”


The most unique feature of ReStore is its partnership with The Urbanwood Project. “Our ReStore is different from others because we provide sustainably harvested Michigan lumber,” said Greg, who explained that Urbanwood processes local trees that would otherwise be discarded or chipped. Each planed, kiln-dried piece of wood is unique and reasonably priced. “You can feel good about buying this wood because you know that your purchase is not contributing to deforestation,” he encouraged.

Helping area homeless is the best part of ReStore. “All of our profits go directly to Genesee County Habitat for Humanity,” said Margaret, “so every dollar stays here in our community to build houses for our neighbors.” This summer, GCHH has plans to build eight new houses, “an all-time high,” Greg boasted. Last year, the ReStore’s profits contributed roughly $300,000 dollars toward the Habitat budget, almost 15%. “Growing the ReStore is certainly a priority for us,” Greg stated, “because when it gets bigger, the results compound threefold. It’s very exciting.”

Words like “reuse” and “upcycle” are very trendy in construction and design these days, especially for companies looking to be labeled “green” or “eco-friendly.” But the Habitat for Humanity ReStore in Flint is more than just a tagline; not only is it eco-friendly, it is community friendly, as well. In developing a sustainable business in recycling, Habitat for Humanity has found a way for everyone in the community to reuse and restore.



See more photos HERE, or purchase photos from this story by going HERE and selecting the “ReStore” category.


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