Finding Hidden Treasures at a Habitat ReStore

by James SheaJanuary 18, 2019

What do you get when you cross a home improvement store and a thrift store? A Habitat for Humanity ReStore. It is a place where you can purchase secondhand home improvement items like cabinets, building materials, tile flooring, hardware, doors, plumbing items, windows, furniture, housewares, and even artwork. The money goes to support Habitat for Humanity projects.

1991, and that was followed by a second store in Austin, Texas. The idea at the time was simple; sell leftover materials from Habitat construction sites. The idea exploded, and there are now more than 850 ReStores across the country that have raised over $100 million.

habitat for humanity restore

ReStores take donations from individuals but also get items from a variety of sources. You never know what treasures you will find. A hotel might remodel rooms and donate 100 of the same lamp. A construction company could have leftover tile from a project and donate them. A local school might donate desks when new ones are purchased or a homeowner could donate a used washing machine when he or she buys a new one for an apartment. The only limitation is your imagination and effort when it comes to utilizing treasures from a Habitat for Humanity ReStore.

Are you looking to tackle some home improvement projects in 2019 without breaking the bank? Here are some tips for discovering hidden treasures at your local ReStore:

Visit in at Least Once a Week

ReStore inventory turns over quickly, and people are always donating items. Like any treasure hunt, it is best to keep in searching. You should visit a ReStore at least once a week. You might easily find the specific item you need, but you can also come upon little, unexpected gems. You never know what you will find. You just have to keep looking.

Don’t Limit Yourself to Your Neighborhood

Many cities, especially larger ones, have more than one ReStore. Each store attracts different types of people and items. You will find that the selection of items varies from store to store. It is best to try to visit more than one store so you get the best chance of finding items that will help with your home improvement projects. “We encourage people to visit multiple ReStores throughout the area to find what they are looking for,” Vivian Bolen, who runs the ReStore in South Bend, Indiana. “The products we receive are across the board, so each ReStore carries different items.”

Prices Drop the Longer an Item is in Stock

ReStore managers want to move items through the store. The items are raising money for Habitat For Humanity, and the goal is to keep selling merchandise. For that reason, ReStores will discount items the longer they are in stock. Stores often have different methods, but in general, they use a sticker system. Different colored stickers will let you know the discount. The discount can be significant if the item has not sold for an extended period of time.

Take a Picture

When considering a ReStore purchase, it is not a bad idea to get a second opinion. Take a picture and send the photo to a friend. The person should be somebody’s opinion you trust. Ask them for feedback on the item and how he or she thinks it would look inside your house. The friend will be happy to provide the type of feedback that you need. Don’t be afraid of a little constructive criticism.

Habitat Restore

Be Creative

Your imagination and creativity are your best tools when combing through a ReStore. An item can be easily repurposed and used to build something else. You can get ideas from Pinterest or use your imagination. You can take the most random item and turn it into a valuable addition to your home. Convert old cabinets into planter boxes or transform an antique door into a headboard.

Don’t be Afraid to Test Stuff Out

Everything you purchase at a ReStore is 100 percent refundable as long as it is in the original condition. The length of time you can return an item can vary between stores, but the policy allows you to test out and try an item. You can take a piece of wall art or a box of tiles and see how it looks in your home. Don’t be afraid to get a little crazy. You can always return it.

Shop on the Weekdays

ReStores are generally busy on the weekends. The weekend warriors are out in force. It is often best to visit during the weekday. People often make donations over the weekend, and the staff will have them out on the floor early in the week. You can find some great items before the weekend crowd shows up if you can visit Monday through Friday.

Find Coupons

Anyone who is interested in value will use coupons, and many ReStores have coupons. They are often mailed to your residence, but some can be found online. The coupons usually offer a certain dollar discount when you purchase a certain amount. These are a great way to save a few extra dollars when you are shopping at the ReStore.


Habitat for Humanity is a non-profit organization, and it is always looking for volunteers. If you volunteer at a ReStore, you get a discount. Plus, it’s a great way to meet new people and help out a worthy organization.

Don’t be Afraid to Leave Empty-handed

You might not always find what you are looking for at a ReStore. It is not a bad thing to browse and not find anything. You want to locate the right item that fits the style and décor of your home. It is better to wait and find something that fits with what you are attempting to do with the home. When you come back, you will find numerous different items for sale and some of those might better fit your needs.

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About The Author
James Shea
James Shea is an award-winning journalist and author. He owns Media Lab, a content marketing and search engine optimization company is Richmond, Virginia.