Habitat for Humanity ReStore closing doors after 15 years in downtown Ardmore
After nearly 15 years operating on the corner of Broadway and Washington Street, the Ardmore Habitat for Humanity ReStore is closing up shop.
Rebecca Gibbs, the ReStore Chair on the Ardmore Habitat for Humanity board, said the store has encountered a multitude of problems that led up to the announcement of its closure earlier this week. The store will be open on select days for the next month to clear out inventory, but will no longer be taking donations.
“Thank you to all those that have donated items to the store and to those that have volunteered their time working in the store. You have helped our organization and your community,” the organization wrote in an Oct. 14 statement announcing the store's closure.
All ReStores are owned and operated by local Habitat for Humanity affiliates. The stores serve as both donation centers and nonprofit home improvement stores, where individuals can find furniture, home accessories and building materials at a fraction of the retail price.
The past year has been hard on the Ardmore ReStore. “We were operating at a loss for the last, almost a year, as far as profitability goes,” Gibbs said. When the COVID-19 pandemic hit the United States in March, things continued to go south.
“We were definitely slow and shut down for a couple of months,” Gibbs said. “We saw expenses at that time, but no revenue coming in.” Donations also continued to flow in, but the ReStore was still not able to make the profit it needed.
Gibbs said the ReStore was lacking in volunteers and the few people that were able to work at the store were only part-time. “A lot of times they volunteered their own time just to make the store run efficiently,” Gibbs said. “It definitely needed more help than what we could pay out.”
The conditions of the building deterred many people, and made it difficult to sell certain items, Gibbs said. The restroom, for example, was a portable toilet outside; and the design of the building made it so it was difficult for people to see all of the items available and efficiently go through the inventory.
“We needed more space,” Gibbs said. “A lot of times we were just selling stuff to get it out of the way, even though we probably could have made more money on it.”
After struggling for so long to keep the store afloat, Gibbs said the organization has decided to try something different and is hoping to reopen with a new location next year. In an email, Ardmore Habitat for Humanity Executive Director Jon Farr said the organization is looking into all options for the future.
“That is the initial thought process right now. We’ve talked about it for years,” Gibbs said. “Before we opened up this last time, we looked at some spaces, but rent is a challenge.”
The building that the store has been operated out of was donated to the organization and has been rent free the entire time. In the past, this helped make the ReStore profitable by saving on one of the biggest costs.
“It’s a big undertaking and there’s the additional expenses to make it a full-fledged business versus the way we’re running it as more of a garage sale is set up,” Gibbs said. “I personally would love to see something by March or April, but I don’t know how feasible that plan would be.”
The net proceeds from the ReStore stay local and help fund the construction costs of homes built by Habitat for Humanity for families in need. Gibbs said the absence of the ReStore will have an affect on the nonprofit’s budget.
“It will definitely have a difference on our cash flow. We’ll have to find a way to make it without those funds,” Gibbs said. The ReStore’s closure will also impact former customers— many of whom could not afford to buy appliances or home improvement items at other stores.
“That will be the sad part about it is we’re not helping the community for those members who needed that support,” Gibbs said. “A lot of times people would come into the ReStore and they were looking for anything they could have, so there were times when we would just give stuff away because they’re in a position that they can’t afford much.”
Gibbs said she would encourage individuals to donate to other organizations in the meantime. Gibbs suggested organizations like It’s from the Heart in Lone Grove or Sunshine Industries, both which have missions that align with Habitat for Humanity's.
Habitat for Humanity is also always looking for volunteers. “There’s never a shortage of volunteers, especially if the ReStore opens up, we would love to have more volunteers than we’ve had in the past,” Gibbs said.
Individuals can call the Ardmore Habitat for Humanity office at (580) 223-1540 and learn what projects are coming up and where help might be needed.
To find out what days the ReStore will be open to clear out inventory, visit the Ardmore Habitat for Humanity ReStore Facebook page or stop by the store, located at 25 East Broadway Street.