Habitat for Humanity of Summit and Wasatch Counties’ ReStore is in the middle of a resurgence.
After closing at the beginning of the pandemic last year, the affordable housing nonprofit’s thrift store reopened a few months later with a new boutique section, extended hours and pandemic protocols in place, said Director of Operations Julianne Carone.
“We were so worried about what the future would be for the ReStore when we had to close,” Carone said. “When we decided to reopen with full COVID-19 protocols that included masks, social distancing and limiting numbers of people in the facility, we were so concerned that people would not come back to the shop, because they have moved on to shop at other places. But it has been wonderful.”
During the shutdown, the ReStore formed some new partnerships with retail warehouses and other organizations in Summit and Salt Lake counties and other places throughout Utah, Carone said.
“Many of these warehouses and other organizations receive returns, but they don’t reprocess the merchandise for resale,” she said.
ReStore takes those items, including brand new clothing, and resells them in a new boutique section of the ReStore, Carone said.
“We were able to offer those deals to many families during the holiday season, and we’ve heard that we were able to help make their Christmases,” she said. “That’s really special to us, and I think we’ll continue that through the next year.”
Increased donations and sales, along with COVID regulations, spurred the ReStore’s extended hours, which are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesdays through Fridays, and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturdays, according to Carone.
“The hours also help us maintain the social distancing protocols,” she said. “Since we allow less people in the store, the hours allow more people to come into the store over time. People can come any time during shopping hours, but if we do get to a point where we feel the store gets a little too crowded, we’ll ask them to wait in their cars.”
The extended hours also allow donors to space out their drop-offs, Carone said.
“We have one point of drop-off, and that’s where we tend to find people clumping in one area, especially if we have a big delivery coming in,” she said. “So we ask people to call ahead and schedule a time, so our staff and volunteers are ready to help. We want to make sure we get our donors in and out quickly, and keep it safe.”
The ReStore accepts furniture, appliances, building supplies and decor, but not used clothing and used bedding, Carone said.
“We partner with the Christian Center of Park City and Big Brothers Big Sisters, and we pass those items to them,” she said.
In addition, donors can arrange for ReStore volunteers and staff to pick up large items, namely furniture or appliances that won’t fit in cars, from their homes.
“We ask donors to put these items on their front lawns or in their carports and garages so it will be easy for our volunteers to retrieve,” Carone said. “We aren’t allowed to enter their homes to retrieve the donations.”
Donors can schedule pick-ups by calling 435-485-9768 or visiting habitat-utah.org/restore/restore-home.html.
To help with the increase of donations and sales, ReStore has added more slots to its volunteer pool.
“We had brought volunteers in pretty early after we reopened, and extended our volunteer training program so we can be open longer hours,” Carone said. “We can always use more volunteers.”
Potential volunteers can register at Habitat for Humanity’s website, she said.
“We have two types of volunteering,” Carone said. “We have ReStore options that include cashiers, customer service or helping unloading and loading donations and purchases, and we have limited volunteering on our build sites.”
The build-site volunteer opportunities depend on the projects, she said.
“Sometimes we can have up to six people on site, other times it’s two,” she said. “When spaces become available, we’ll let people know through an email blast.”
Build-site volunteer slots may become more available throughout the year, Carone said.
“Right now we are planning to build a total of 26 homes in a three-year timespan,” she said. “We have a lot going on right now.”