Housing nonprofit gives Northside store new purpose


Habitat for Humanity stocks store with building materials.

Last year a Builder’s Surplus store in North Minneapolis went out of business. Its warehouse, however, which was owned by Lampert’s Yards, Inc., was completely stocked. Aisles and shelves were filled with doors, carpets, windows and other housing hardware products. Due to a downturn in the construction industry, this Minneapolis area was going to lose a convenient neighborhood hardware store. But before it was about to close its doors, the store was suddenly given new life and new purpose.

Over the past couple of years Twin Cities Habitat for Humanity (TCHFH) developed a business plan to open a materials retail outlet. The non-profit organization wanted a way to diversify its income and provide materials at a lower price for consumers. As TCHFH was working towards making this idea a reality, Lampert’s Yards, Inc. donated their entire business – the building lease and its full stock of inventory – to the non-profit.

Since opening its doors in January 2007, TCHFH’s ReStore has seen a steady increase in customers. The ReStore provides good quality new and like-new building materials at discounted prices. The proceeds from the outlet go directly towards helping families in need of safe, decent and affordable homeownership opportunities. The inventory sold by the ReStore includes laminate and ceramic flooring, carpeting, windows, doors, hardware, tools, appliances and more. Products are usually donated from builders, construction companies, manufacturers or individuals. In the first five months, revenues for the ReStore have increased every month. Its top sellers include carpet, doors and millwork.

Todd Langland of St. Paul is the owner of The Way – an organization that provides sober living for men and women. He shops at the ReStore to find building material for houses for his organization.

“We build sober houses to benefit people getting out of alcohol and drug rehab so they can have a safe environment where they are able to learn responsibility again,” Langland said. “The ReStore benefits the community because the affordable, discounted prices help people who are doing work on houses.”

On a normal day the ReStore welcomes several new customers and many returning customers who regularly purchase materials at the store.

Kevin Campana, the ReStore project manager for TCHFH, says they receive a very diverse group of customers.

“We get landlords, property managers, small construction companies and do-it-yourselfers,” Campana said. “And there is no other close hardware store, so we’ve become the neighborhood store.”

Manuel A. Crespo, a North Minneapolis resident, has been to the ReStore several times. He is continually remodeling different parts of his house, and comes to the ReStore to find the tools he needs.

“There are more things here and the prices are better,” Crespo said.

“The store seems to have good buys,” said Mary Gnatz, a returning customer, “Especially if people are looking to fix up their houses on a budget.”

Gnatz, who works at North High school, saw the store on her lunch break and decided to browse. She brought her husband with her on a second visit so they could find some good deals.

Whether you are tackling the giant task of remodeling your home or doing minor home repairs, stop by the Twin Cities Habitat for Humanity ReStore. Store inventory changes frequently, so it’s worth a second trip if you do not find what you are looking for initially. Not only will you save money, but the money you spend will benefit families in need of affordable housing.

Twin Cities Habitat for Humanity ReStore is located at 501 West Broadway Ave, Minneapolis. For more information visit www.tchabitat.org.