The Habitat for Humanity of Baldwin County ReStore

It’s Summertime in Alabama!

June 13th, 2013    

I love summer!

Being a transplant from Western New York, I love warm weather (ok, so maybe I should say HOT weather), the sun, the beach and especially vacation time. The Captain and I love to travel so much in fact that my friends often ask how we have time to work. We smile knowing that we both usually end up doing quite a bit of work while on vacation. I am writing this while sitting in Logan Airport in Boston waiting for my flight back to Atlanta then on to Pensacola enjoying the last moments of the unusual cold weather the northeast is having. We spent a wonderful relaxing week in Portsmouth, NH and Waldoboro, ME with wonderful friends. How wonderful are they?  The first thing they said to me when I walked through the door was “ReStores are wonderful.  We love them!”  They had just discovered them and I was thrilled that I was able to share my favorite spot with them.

 Being the ReStore geek that I am I always make sure I visit all the local ReStores during our travels. I have seen some amazing stores, met some wonderful Habitat staff and come away from each one with new ideas to implement in our stores in Lower Alabama. During this trip I was lucky enough to take some time away from my five day shopping excursion (otherwise known as my vacation while The Captain worked) to visit two ReStores in New England — one in Maine and one in New Hampshire.

The Midcoast Habitat for Humanity ReStore was situated in the beautiful countryside of Rockland, Maine. It was housed in an old red barn with big front doors and a muddy walkway (did I mention it rained the entire time we were away!). Inside was a treasure trove of New England finds including a 1950s era stove that our friends had their eye on to compliment their rustic, charming farmhouse. This small ReStore has only been open a year but has a great following. I met the Executive Director who shared her excitement of their first store. It was a great store and truly an important part of the community.

Later in the week I visited the Southeast New Hampshire Habitat ReStore, which is just over the border from Maine in Newington. It is housed in a former roller skating rink. Of course my first question was “do you get to roller skate in here?”  The disappointing answer as no. I have many great memories of roller skating at Midway Park as a teen and was hoping this would be another opportunity to brush up on my skills. Alas no skating. But the store was pretty neat. 

When you walked through the door there is memorabilia from the former roller rink in the display window intermingled with Habitat items. I thought this was a great reminder of the history of the building. That would be great to have at The Bay Minette ReStore which used to be a bowling alley.  Anyone have anything they want to donate?

Back to New Hampshire…the store had great character, great donations and a wonderful staff. I enjoyed seeing their processing area and took a lot of pictures of their appliance testing area to replicate in our new store. Did I mention we are building a new store?  More about that later. Sophie, the ReStore manager, shared their Facebook page, customer newsletter and website with me.  They do a great job of using technology to keep in touch with their customers, donors and supporters. You should like their page…in fact you should probably like our Facebook page too!   The visit re-energized my interest in my ReStore blog which I have been putting off for a number of months now, complaining that I have been a bit stressed so not in a good enough mood to write.  Enough of that — I missed sharing our ReStore stories with you!

Over the years I have visited stores including Key West, FL;  New Orleans, LA;  Buffalo, NY (my adopted hometown!), Ashville, NC; Atlanta, GA; Plymouth, MA and numerous other areas. (Did I mention we love to travel!) My only disappointment is that I can’t buy anything while visiting far away ReStores. Boxes of tile would put my luggage way over the weight limit for all airlines.

I have learned so much from each store and believe our stores are successful because of all I learn while traveling. (Hoping my boss reads this and sends me on more trips!)  Now I have not yet seen the Hawaii ReStores but I’m working on that one!  I wonder if that is in our travel plans anytime soon?









Your author enjoying a moment on the beach in Massachusetts     

The Dump Just Ain’t What It Used To Be!

February 14th, 2013    

From a child’s perspective (or at least from my long ago child’s perspective) the trip to the local landfill with my Dad was always an exciting, fun filled adventure.  That was until my mother started putting her foot down and insisting we didn’t get to bring home more than what we brought to the dump each trip. 

I grew up in a very, very small town in Western New York (that would be the snowbelt of Western New York — in case you were wondering how I ended up in Lower Alabama!).  At least once a month my dad would load the family car with wood scraps, lawn scraps and any other items he needed to dispose of, and off we would go to our local Ellery Center landfill.  Being a small town — and before lawsuits become all the rage — all the good stuff was left out at the edge of the landfill for people to recycle, repurpose or reuse.  That awesome bicycle just missing one tire, a chain and the handlebars — I could fix that!

 Actually I should be fair and say that although I tried many times to fix gently broken items, they usually ended up in my father’s workshop for him to fix.  Now my sweet husband, The Captain gets to finish my many attempts at making something out of a broken bench, falling apart shelf or that ready to retire table. My mom has also come to the rescue on many a project that I “started” but just couldn’t seem to finish.  My favorite furniture rescue (I think there is a television show in there!) was the entertainment center that would tip to the side and fall apart if you pushed too hard.  I brought it home and asked my dad if he could just support it a little with wood so I could use it.  Three years later a beautiful, antique hand crafted entertainment center was delivered to my new apartment!  I knew it had potential!

 I used to love going to the dump with my dad — he and I both appreciated the hidden beauty in what some people deemed trash. I remember the excitement of the hunt, the mystery of what I would find that I couldn’t live without, what perfectly good item someone threw out that I must possess.  Today I still have great memories of my adventures with my dad and cherish each one of those moments.  

Writer’s Note: Please note that after watching the season opener of “Hoarders: Buried Alive” last night, I am not advocating bringing home lots of stuff to add to the potential hoarder in you– that’s a whole other issue. 

Today’s kids no longer can enjoy the experience of finding treasures at the local landfill.  Safety hazards, lawsuits and many other concerns have put a stop to scavenging, recycling, repurposing and just plain having fun.  Today, items that go to the landfill stay in the landfill are buried in the landfill and live in the landfill forever. Now some people reading this might not think that scavenging at the local landfill would be fun or sanitary for that matter.  Details, details, details! 

I have an idea to stop this trend of filling up our local landfills.  Don’t throw out items that are still usable.  Donate them!  Donate them to the Habitat ReStore, to Goodwill, to Salvation Army, to Waterfront Mission, to St. Paul’s Thrift Shop, to The Clothes Closet, to Catholic Charities, to Sister Julie’s, or to Emmy’s Closet.  The list of organizations needing your gently used donations in Baldwin County is endless. 

Not only can you donate your gently used furniture and building supplies to the Habitat ReStore, but your household items, clean linens, working electronics,  craft items, books, artwork, material, blinds, outdoor furniture, cabinets, flooring, windows, doors, toilets, sinks, tools, nails, screws, bolts, doorknobs, hinges, lumber, pipe, conduit, etc. etc.  It is easier to list what we can’t accept – clothes, baby items, toys, anything with a pulse, and chemicals.  And guess what – we pick up! 

It’s springtime in Alabama – time to start cleaning out that garage, tool shed, storage unit, bookshelf, office, kitchen and every other inch of your house.  If it’s broken, torn or stained – throw it out.  If it is gently used – DONATE IT!  You will help one of the many wonderful organizations in Baldwin County, receive a tax deduction, keep items out of our local landfills and make tree huggers throughout the world happy – including me! 


How Jimmy Buffet and Mardi Gras Can Help Habitat for Humanity

February 6th, 2013    

February has proven to be quite the festive month in our area.  Mardi Gras is in full swing with parades throughout Baldwin County happening nightly all leading up to the big finish with Gulf Shores & Orange Beach parades on Fat Tuesday.  Don’t forget the Boat Parade on the Intercoastal Waterway on Fat Tuesday as well.  Lulu’s at Homeport Marina is a great place to watch the parade and catch some throws.  Speaking of Lucy Buffet, her somewhat famous brother, Jimmy, played at the Pensacola Civic Center Tuesday evening – a reason to make the trek to Pensacola to revel in the ever popular “Fins To The Lefts” dance.  All of these festivities have left me tired, broke but extremely happy!  The broke part might have something to do with having a daughter attending Auburn University — but the tired and happy part are definitely from all the fun we’ve been having this month.

My husband who I will lovingly call The Captain and I have been busy during this Mardi Gras season attending two Mardi Gras Balls and enjoying multiple parades to catch beads and the enviable Moon Pie – my favorite being mint (tastes like a Girl Scout cookie!).  Of course we have an ulterior motive in attending so many Mardi Gras parades.  Besides loving the floats and the marching bands and watching the kids’ excitement when they catch a stuffed animal, we are also collecting beads to throw on Fat Tuesday in the Gulf Shores Mardi Gras parade.  Tacky you say?  I work for the ReStore —  Reduce, Reuse, Recycle is my motto.  Why buy new when you can reuse something someone is throwing away – literally throwing right at you! 

I know many of you reading this has a secret stash of beads hiding  in a hall closet, garage, attic or possibly decorating your entire house.  There are years of bead build up in your home from pushing your way to the front of the barricade to catch that elusive Mardi Gras bead.  The bead hoarder in all of us wants to catch as many as possible – but what to do with them afterwards.  Donate them to the Habitat ReStore in Summerdale or Bay Minette. We sell the beads back to Mardi Gras Krewes who throw them all over again.  You get a clean closet floor, Mardi Gras revelers get discount beads, and the Habitat ReStore makes money to eliminate poverty housing in Baldwin County.  We all win! In fact I think there have been a few beads I have caught, donated to the ReStore, and then purchased back to throw in a parade.  A true circle of life!

What does Jimmy Buffet have to do with helping Habitat for Humanity you ask?  The Captain and I are dedicated members of the L.A. Parrotheads (that’s Lower Alabama for those of you who might be new to the area). We love Jimmy Buffet, Trop Rock Music including our own Brent Burns – winner of Trop Rock Music Association 2012 Album and Song of the Year, helping others, raising money for local organizations and “Partying With A Purpose”, the official slogan for Parrotheads all over the world.  As we treked over to Pensacola Tuesday evening for my third Jimmy Buffet concert (ok, so I’m a newbie but I’m working to build up my concert numbers), I began wondering how I could fit my Lounging at the Lagoon Concert Adventure into a blog about the Habitat ReStore.  As I began wandering the parking lot enjoying the Parrothead festivities, I saw hundreds of aluminum drink cans on tables, in hands, and in the garbage. And I cringed!  Do you know that the Habitat ReStore accepts donations of aluminum drink cans which they in turn recycle through a local salvage company. The proceeds from this fundraiser support Habitat’s mission to eliminate poverty housing and homelessness in Baldwin County. 

Now you have two tasks after you are done writing your nightly post on Facebook and checking out new ideas on Pinterest.  Catch more beads and drink more beverages in aluminum cans– all in the name of supporting Habitat for Humanity of Baldwin County. There are three drop off sites for your bags of aluminum cans – the Summerdale ReStore, Bay Minette ReStore and the Habitat office on County Rd. 65 in Foley.  Beads can be dropped off at either of the Habitat ReStores. And guess what – they are tax deductible donations! 

Thanks for reading and Fins Up!

It’s Spring Cleaning Time

January 31st, 2013    

If you are like me, as I look around my house I realize how much “stuff” my husband and I have accumlated over the very short 4 1/2 years we have lived in our current home. I’m sure part of it for me is that I spend a lot of time at the Habitat ReStore in Summerdale and Bay Minette and there is always something catching my fancy that I must bring home to add to the ambiance of the living room, or the tiki bar or the guest room I am currently redecorating. Add to that the multiple Pinterest projects I have started in our garage (must to my husband’s chagrin) that increase my shopping potential at the ReStore.  My husband did draw the line at building our new coffee table out of an old pallet from the ReStore and reminded me that we could purchase a nice, new one and enjoy it just as much as one I made.

With the end of the holiday season there has been an avalanche of blogs, pinterest ideas and Facebook posts on how to organize your home, your life, your office, your garage and every other place imaginable — although I have to admit I have not found an article on how to organize the tiki bar which is fine since we don’t have much stuff there YET!. As I love a new project, I have begun to organize my home one space at a time. This has included drinking large amounts of Starbucks Frappuccino to have enough empty bottles make the spice jars I fell in love with on Pinterest.

In all my organizing and cleaning, I have begun building my pile of donations I will be bringing to the Habitat ReStore in Summerdale. Call me biased but I can’t imagine a better place to donate my household items and building supplies than the Habitat ReStore. Not only does the ReStore offer great furniture, housewares, flooring and building supplies at discounted prices, but it gives local families the opportunity to fix up their homeon a reasonable budget. Best of all, the proceeds all stay in Baldwin County to help Habitat for Humanity of Baldwin County to build simple, decent housing in partnership with your neighbors. It’s a win win situation for everyone involved. So as you begin your “40 Days to a More Organized House” or whatever you want to call your spring cleaning project, remember the Habitat ReStore. We pick up too! Call us to schedule a pickup or drop it off at either of our stores Monday through Saturday from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm. All donations are tax deductible. Thank you and happy cleaning!

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July 19th, 2012    

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Summerdale ReStore  •  19289 State Hwy 59 S  •  Summerdale, AL 36580  •  251.989.6422  •  Directions
Monday - Saturday 9:00 am to 5:00 pm

Habitat for Humanity of Baldwin County is a 501(c)3 charitable organization, therefore, donations are tax deductible as allowed by law.