Twenty years ago Habitat for Humanity Canada launched a project called ReStore and six years later Toronto opened its first ReStore.
ReStores sell new, unique (like red velvet chandeliers) and gently used home products from cabinetry down to paints and door handles. It’s like the Winners and HomeSense of home renovation as nearly every day you can discover something new in their stores or online on their new Kijiji powered e-store. And like Winners and HomeSense, you need to snatch up your treasures quickly or you might miss them and the great tax-free prices that ReStore has to offer. Yes, we did say tax-free prices, all the materials and products at the ReStores are free from taxes, yet another reason to pay them a visit!
Their online store can be found on the Habitat for Humanity Toronto website and it’s simple to navigate, after all, it’s Kijiji!
The ReStore stores operate solely on donations and they also go out and salvage products from houses that are being renovated or demolished. If you’d like to donate you can visit ReStore online or call them, always be sure to call as you never know what it is they might be looking for! Not only do they salvage items, but they can also work with both homeowners and contractors to pick up products from job sites.
ReStores fund 100% of Habitat’s administrative expenses. This means that every penny and dollar you donate to Habitat goes to building homes for those in need.
About 90% of the staff at the stores are made up of volunteers! Many of the volunteers are from “Partner Families”; these are families that are having a home built for them by volunteers. That’s how Habitat Toronto keeps the mortgage costs low – the homes are built by volunteers who are trained each day by crew leaders. To qualify for one of these interest-free mortgage homes a family must complete 500 hours of volunteer work, this can be at a ReStore, on a build site, at events or even at Habitat offices. These homes aren’t given away for “free” after all! Habitat is about giving a “hand up, not a hand out,” and the Partner Families must purchase the homes from Habitat Toronto based on a rate they can afford.
Behind the Scenes
Eight months ago Robin Lee and Sophie Turner came on board to give Toronto’s ReStore an update.
Robin “Rob” Lee is the Director of ReStore Operations and he is responsible for managing the overall operations of the ReStores including strategy, administration, finance, safety, sales, people, marketing and product acquisition. He is quite the jack-of-all trades!
Before joining Habitat for Humanity Toronto, Rob managed the retail operations for several companies including Lansing Buildall, Revy and Rona. He was most notably the Ontario Manager of Continuous Improvement for Rona Ontario. What does this amount to? It means that ReStore has a Director with over 20 years of building material industry experience dealing with both retail and construction sectors.
Sophie Turner is no slouch either, she has 18 years of corporate experience working with Fortune 500 companies doing their marketing, branding and communications and she has brought this experience with her to ReStore. She launched the new ReStore online Kijiji store as well as the first advertising campaign the organization has had with a fantastic digital media buy that included billboards as well.
Both Rob and Sophie are focusing on customer service and experience and a lot of the campaigns are designed to promote awareness about the ReStore project to both consumers and donors.
The ReStore is a fantastic spot to visit frequently if you are looking to add something to a room, renovating or planning a renovation; you never know what you could find, from new windows and counter tops to luxury kitchen faucets! And if you can’t find the time to visit, then go to the online store that they update as products come in so that you’ll be the first to see what home improvement products they are bringing in through the doors.