You’ve probably heard of Habitat for Humanity, the non-profit society that helps low-income people all over the world build their own homes, but you may not have heard of ReStores, the retail outlets where Habitat sells new and used building materials, appliances, and other home necessities. The stock consists of donations that aren’t needed for the society’s current building projects, and the money raised goes to fund its work.
Shopping at a ReStore helps a good cause, but does it save you money? I visited my local ReStore to find out. As with many secondhand stores, the answer is not always, but often.
After making my way to the ReStore, a “temporary” looking metal building in an industrial area on the edge of a residential neighborhood, I had to talk myself out of snatching up the free light fixture sitting on a table outside the front entrance. It was less ugly than the one we’ve got in our kitchen now, but only slightly.
Inside, the first thing that caught my attention was a bin full of brand new towel racks for $1 each. Encouraged, I went on to find:
- used refrigerators for as little as $100
- a complete set of oak kitchen cabinets for $450 – at Ikea you’d pay that much for a couple of linear feet of kitchen cabinetry
- snap stone tiles, boxes of 12 for $24.50 – elsewhere, this can run over $30 for a pack of five
- tubes of sealant, $1 each – the cheapest one in the hardware store is over twice that
- a few new clothes – $5 for a shirt
- a full set of used banisters for $125
- anti-bacterial wipes, $2.50 a box
- new ceiling fans, $47.50
- new table lamps, $30 – about half the hardware store price
- used medicine cabinets, $50
- a large used mirror in a wooden frame, $40
To sum up, prices at the ReStore are at least as good as elsewhere, and in many cases much better. Though you’re less likely to find exactly what you want, the selection is fair. So if there’s a ReStore near you, it’s worth checking out the next time you need something for your home.
You may even find what you need free.