New and improved: Central Delaware Habitat reopens its ReStore

ReStore manager Terri Faust and Dover Mayor Robin Christiansen cut the ribbon at the reopening of the ReStore in Dover. Delaware State News/Marc Clery

DOVER — Dan Simpson, the executive director for the Central Delaware Habitat for Humanity, felt as if his organization’s ReStore had been decorated with invisible paint.

Desperate times called for desperate measures – and a complete store makeover from Christmas until New Year’s Day at the CDHFH ReStore building at 544 Webbs Lane.

The nonprofit home improvement outlet now sells new and gently used furniture, appliances, home essentials and décor, building materials and much more, at a fraction of the retail price.

Over the past several months, the store has added painting materials, wood laminate flooring, carpet tiles and new furniture to its inventory.

Executive Director of Central Delaware Habitat for Humanity Dan Simpson, left, talks during the reopening of the ReStore in Dover. Delaware State News/Marc Clery

The store’s new look came complete with a new management team and structure put into place.

“There are things I’ve heard so many times, statements like ‘I didn’t know you were here’ or ‘I’ve always wanted to come here,’ and that is our greatest challenge that we have going,” Mr. Simpson said.

“A lot of people in Kent County still don’t realize what the Habitat for Humanity ReStore is all about and this particular location, for whatever reason, people blow right by us and they don’t see us and I don’t know why.”

Terri Faust was brought on to serve as the ReStore’s new operations manager to help turn the store’s fortunes around.

She said her team worked six days between Christmas and New Year’s and did everything from move the store’s office to a loft location to free up space to completely changing the building’s personality.

Ms. Faust, who previously worked at a hot rod shop in Middletown, was basically trying to change a clunky old Ford Edsel into a classic sporty Thunderbird.

“We’ve got a great team of people and they gave 150 percent for that week that we closed to try to get all of this done,” she said. “We basically gutted the place. We changed the way everything was displayed, the way the entire store was setup.

“We brought in new furniture, which came in right after Christmas, and we had to assemble all of that. We had to build platforms to display it on and we changed the layout, so now we have vignettes instead of rows and rows of furniture.”

The ReStore celebrated its rebirth with officials from the Central Delaware Chamber of Commerce, Dover Mayor Robin Christiansen and a ribbon-cutting ceremony last Wednesday.

Proceeds from the store help Central Delaware Habitat for Humanity carry out its mission: bringing people together to build affordable homes, community and hope.

Founded in 1990, CDHFH has now built and/or renovated more than 50 homes, providing housing solutions for 77 adults and 158 children.

“ReStores play an integral part in Habitat’s global mission,” Mr. Simpson said. “They generate financial support for our work while offering local individuals, families, groups and organizations a unique opportunity to interact with Habitat staff, volunteers, community partners and partner families.”

“It gives them a chance to experience being an important and direct part of our local work.”

With a new management team in place, the refurbished ReStore is ready for business.

“We’re excited to invite everyone in to take a new look and meet the new management team,” Ms. Faust said. “It’s also a chance to thank our community partners, customers, staff and volunteers who helped make these changes possible.”

Mr. Simpson said the ReStore is able to offer products at drastically lower prices than some other outlets.

“We are able to take advantage of low-cost items,” he said. “A lot of times carpet manufacturers have to run thousands (of square feet of carpet) at one time,” he said. “So, if they get an order for 50,000 (square feet) and they can only run their quantities 20,000 (square feet) at a time, they have to make 60,000 (square feet).

“So, the extra 10,000 doesn’t get shipped, it gets set aside and put into generic boxes. Then we can sell it more affordably.”

One thing is for sure, Mr. Simpson does not plan on remaining invisible when it comes to the new-look CDHFH ReStore.

“We’re extremely excited about the opportunity that it will give us to spread the mission and how the mission relates to our ReStore here,” he said. “The ReStore plays a major part in the revenue in our income stream that ultimately results in building affordable homes.

“And to us, that’s what it’s all about.”

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