Dubuque store benefits Habitat for Humanity, reduces waste

Posted at 2:08 PM, Jun 05, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-05 15:08:17-04

DUBUQUE, Iowa (AP) — The new Habitat for Humanity store that will benefit area housing projects is now filled to the brim with donated building materials and assorted furniture.

The store was celebrated last week by a three-day, pre-opening sale of Dubuque and Jackson Counties Habitat for Humanity’s ReStore at 4949 Chavenelle Road. The sale gave those attending a sneak peek at the new location, which is housed in the same building as the business First Supply.

The ReStore will sell donated building materials, furniture and other housing materials. While the sales will help sustain store operating costs, the enterprise also will raise funds for Habitat for Humanity’s home building projects for families in need.

“There’s an environmental aspect to it,” said Erica Haugen, executive director of the nonprofit organization. “There’s tons and tons of waste we will be able to divert from the landfill. Volunteers will be able to take a lot of items and get those back into the hands of people that can use them.”

Rachel Daack, chair of the ReStore committee, told the Dubuque Telegraph Herald that an exact opening date cannot be determined until a store manager is hired.

“That’s probably our sticking point now,” she said. “It’s a big job, but it’ll be exciting.”

Daack said she and other members of the committee have worked on opening a Dubuque ReStore location since 2019.

“It struck me that we have the market for this,” she said. “I know people want to donate, and they want to be thrifty. We are the right community as donors and as shoppers.”

Haugen added that the pre-opening sale also was prompted by a need for more inventory space in the 8,200-square-foot facility. A large donation was given to the store last year by the Sisters of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary at Mount Carmel Bluffs in Dubuque, and she said extra space is needed for more donations.

Haugen said the ReStore will be open one day per week to start. Then, she hopes to work up to having the ReStore open three days per week for shopping and two days per week for donations.

“We will do a soft opening as we work into it,” she said. “It’s going to be heavily dependent on volunteers in the community who have been helping to get this store brought to Dubuque.”

Bev Wagner, who also is the Dubuque Metropolitan Area Solid Waste Agency’s education and communication coordinator, was volunteering her time at the ReStore on Thursday.

“I’ve been familiar with ReStores for several years, and I’ve always thought we needed one,” she said of the Dubuque location. “I’m happy to see it open.”

Since Habitat for Humanity came to Dubuque 31 years ago, Haugen said at least 31 families have been served through homebuilding and home-repair projects. Those projects provide housing opportunities at price points of less than $200,000 and go to families who might not be able to enter the housing market otherwise, she said.

“We hope that the store will first of all diversify our income and resources so we can continue to serve at least one family a year,” she said. “We would like to have two families a year pretty quickly here.”

Daack said the store also will help promote Habitat for Humanity and provide further education on its housing program.

“Right now, people don’t know there’s a Habitat for Humanity in Dubuque, partially because there’s not a big storefront,” she said.

She added that the location, near both Lowe’s and Menards in Dubuque, is a perfect place for people to both stop to drop off and search for items while thinking about their next home improvement project.

“It gives us both donor convenience and shopping alternatives,” she said.

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