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Re-Storation Hardware

04/01/2008 03:44PM ● Published by Anonymous

Before you restore, Re-Store.

The Re-Store Warehouse is a non-profit business that collects used building materials and resells it at a steep discount to people looking for a less expensive way to remodel or build anew.

Looking for that one-of-a-kind mantelpiece? From full cans of paint to full-size refrigerators, the Re-Store has it all and the kitchen sink. The warehouse is stocked with solid-wood kitchen cabinets, toilet bowls, shower stalls, ceiling fans, air-conditioning units and yes, kitchen sinks. Items may be slightly used or even brand new, but they’re perfectly usable items that would have otherwise been thrown away.

Shopping here helps the environment – and the community.

“By shopping for building materials someplace else,” says Director Bill McMillan, “you support someone else’s lifestyle, but by shopping at the Re-Store you help provide someone less fortunate with a lifestyle.”

The money the Re-Store earns is reinvested into the community by way of donations to the Fayetteville Urban Ministry and the Fayetteville Area Habitat for Humanity. Last year, the Re-Store gave nearly $100,000 to the two groups. For Habitat, that almost pays for a house. For Urban Ministry, it means an expansion of programs such as its adult literacy program or Find-a-Friend youth program.

Bobby Nichols spent 32 years building tires at the former Kelly-Springfield plant before he retired and spent his days on small construction projects around his home. He bought his materials from the Re-Store. But retirement didn’t set well with the amiable Nichols who liked what the Re-Store was all about and offered his services. Today, Nichols is the assistant manager and can usually be found loading and unloading building materials in front of the massive yellow bay doors at 205 Forsythe St., behind the Rite-Aid pharmacy at the corner of Raeford Road and Robeson Street.

And donations come in all shapes and sizes. The Re-Store collects working appliances, columns and mantel pieces, cabinets with working drawers, doors, residential electrical items, flooring, furniture and wall coverings to include full unopened cans of latex paint. What it does not accept are garage doors, hazardous material, lumber less than five feet long, computers, printers, copiers or mirrors without frames. The Re-Store also offers pickup and delivery service.

It all began when The Re-Store Warehouse opened its doors in September 1999 in a small brown building on Franklin Street across from the Fayetteville Police Department. The Re-Store was the brainchild of Rusty Long, executive director of Fayetteville Urban Ministry and former Habitat for Humanity staffer. With help from the Cumberland Community Foundation, Long garnered the seed money needed to get the Re-Store operational. From the onset, the Re-Store suffered growing pains, both philosophical and physical. It became awkward to manage the organization with board members representing both Urban Ministry and Habitat. And the location posed a challenge, too.

“The Franklin Street site was so small, we were turning away donations,” Long said. “We couldn’t get enough product in and out, and we weren’t making a profit.”

The Re-Store, like any other new business, had a lean start-up period. “Only in the last two years did we make a profit,” Long said.

And now the Re-Store is led by an independent board, Long’s intent all along. He and Ann Griffin, executive director of Fayetteville Area Habitat for Humanity, serve as non-voting ex-officio members. Matt Cockman, a Fayetteville lawyer, serves as chairman of the 10-member board.

Lynne Greene is a board member and vice president of Highland Lumber Company. She remembers when the store eked out a small profit and there were only two employees. The store had to be profitable before it could help the community, she said. “It’s a non-profit organization, but it still needs to make money,” she said. “It needs to run like a business.”

She also remembers turning to Bill McMillan, a Fayetteville native who had returned to his hometown after a prolonged absence and a career selling real estate. Greene says his background in marketing and Christian faith made him the ideal candidate for the job of executive director. In March 2006, McMillan took the reins.

“He’s got the big picture in mind but still can implement the details,” Greene said. “Bill is a goal setter, a benchmark setter. He’s done a fantastic job.”

Long echoes Greene’s sentiments: “The true success of the Re-Store is Bill,” he said.

When asked of his formula for success, McMillan says it’s a six-letter word starting with “p” and ending in “r.” “My philosophy,” he said, “is that prayer will provide for people.”

McMillan also points to the community’s support as a source of the Re-Store’s rebound – those who buy and those who donate. Construction companies donate new building material. Picerne, the giant construction contractor at Fort Bragg, has allowed Re-Store “deconstruction” crews to harvest prime building materials from the houses being renovated or demolished. McMillan’s next endeavor for the Re-Store is to establish the Re-Store University: a vocational school for at-risk teenagers. “We want to teach them to use their hands, keep them off the streets and learn to support themselves in the building industry,” McMillan said.

A grant through the Cumberland County Mental Health Department will get the ball rolling, but McMillan hopes to raise an additional $100,000. McMillan said he hopes at least 100 people will donate $1,000. “We’re asking for a two-year commitment at $500 per year,” he said. “It will allow us to completely outfit the program with what we need to include someone to oversee the project.”

McMillan wants the program in place by fall and once again, prayer comes into play. “That’s our desire,” he said. “We pray about that all the time.”

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