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Sunday, December 16 , 2018, 3:27 am | Fair 44º


ReStore Finds Niche Putting Others’ Trash to Good Use

The Santa Barbara store celebrates its first anniversary selling donated building materials

Many people would throw an old sink basin in the trash after remodeling their home, but there’s an alternative that’s more sustainable and creative: Why not paint the sink and use it as a planter?

That’s one idea presented by ReStore in Santa Barbara, which sells donated building materials including fixtures, doors, windows, hardware, wood trim and cabinets.

The store, operated by Habitat for Humanity of Southern Santa Barbara County at 6725 Hollister Ave. in Cabrillo Business Park, celebrated its one-year anniversary Saturday.

“We have done three times more business than we thought we would in our first year,” said Joyce McCullough, executive director of the local Habitat for Humanity chapter.

The community has been receptive of the store, which boasts hundreds of volunteers and frequent, loyal customers, she said. Indeed, she paused to greet every customer she knew as they walked by while she was interviewed.

The wide spectrum of customers includes homeowners, property managers and contractors checking out bargains, she said.

All of the store’s inventory is donated, either through dropoffs or the store’s twice-weekly pickup routes.

Among all of the doors and windows, there are a few “high-ticket items,” such as a stained-glass window and chandelier, volunteer coordinator Lydia Ehmann said.

Since there are just six paid staff members, including McCullough and Ehmann, and all items are donated, more money can go toward area Habitat for Humanity projects. Their goal is to have all fundraising go straight to projects, with store profits covering all administrative costs.

A four-unit affordable housing project is under way, with permits expected in fall, McCullough said. The San Pascual project is Habitat for Humanity’s second in Santa Barbara and will have three two-bedroom units and one one-bedroom unit.

Construction will include reused items — most notably, the windows from faculty housing at Westmont College. After the Tea Fire, the facilities got new windows and the old ones were the perfect size and number for the Habitat for Humanity project, McCullough said.

The ReStore in Santa Barbara sells donated building materials, including doors.
The ReStore in Santa Barbara sells donated building materials, including doors. (Giana Magnoli / Noozhawk photo)

With such a small staff, ReStore relies heavily on its hundreds of volunteers.

“If we didn’t have volunteers, we couldn’t run the ReStore,” Ehmann said.

In its year of operation, there have been 305 volunteers and 3,600 total volunteer hours. Many locals do weekly, scheduled shifts. “They feel like it’s theirs, which makes me happy,” McCullough said.

One volunteer, Bob, is 79 and got involved with ReStore because “the price is right,” he said. He goes out on the pickup routes and can carry much more than other volunteers, Ehmann said.

“That’s because I’m double the age of younger men,” he joked. He’s also enticed by going to “extravagant places in Montecito to get good stuff,” he said.

Three volunteers have put in more than 200 hours each, with at least eight more that have exceeded 100 hours, Ehmann said.

Habitat for Humanity volunteers come from all walks of life. There are local corporate groups that help out, and college students and residents want to get involved.

Some come from unexpected places. Next weekend, a group of 15 men will spend time painting and otherwise improving Laguna Cottages for Seniors, Ehmann said. What do they all have in common? They’re volunteering instead of having a traditional bachelor party, by request from the groom-to-be.

ReStore’s first anniversary was celebrated with discounts, a silent auction and various workshops that included creative ways to reuse materials. The Community Environmental Council and the local U.S. Green Building Council had booths and representatives at the event.

One workshop presented interesting uses for various objects, such as making a door into a headboard. “I’m always amazed at people’s creativity,” McCullough said.

While the staff hopes to expand the store and hours in the future, the store has come a long way from a year ago. The staff used to bring inventory out of storage containers for parking lot sales.

The store is open from noon to 5 p.m. Wednesday through Friday and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday.

Noozhawk staff writer Giana Magnoli can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

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