Donations to Local Thrift Store Help the Community & Create Housing for Those in Need
Writer / Christy Heitger-Ewing
ReStore, which came to Avon nearly three years ago, is a home improvement thrift store that sells donated new and gently used merchandise at a significant discount. It’s so much more than a thrift store, though, because the organization is affiliated with Habitat for Humanity.
That means that all donations are tax deductible, and every penny collected at the ReStore benefits Greater Indy Habitat for Humanity (serving Hendricks, Marion and Hancock Counties). Since 1987, Greater Indy Habitat has served more than 950 families globally in relocating from substandard and poverty housing into decent, affordable homes. Nearly 600 of these families are in Greater Indianapolis. According to the Habitat for Humanity website, for every $1 invested, Habitat’s program returns $2.61 in community benefits.
The great thing about ReStore is that every item that is donated to the Avon store remains in the store rather than getting transferred to a different one in another town.
“When you donate to a Goodwill, for instance, everything goes to a warehouse, and then items get redistributed back out to other stores based on which items sell best at which location. That’s why you may donate something and then not see it in that store,” says David Elliott, manager of the Avon ReStore. “When you donate to the Avon ReStore, though, you are helping the Avon community.”
Elliott says that what he loves about ReStore is that one donation brings about so much goodness in the community. For example, let’s say you donate a toilet (a highly sought-after item, as it turns out). You’ve already done something good for the environment by choosing to donate instead of tossing it in a landfill. In addition, when you make that donation, you’ve given someone a job because now someone at ReStore is going to repair it, so they can resell it. When it gets sold, you’re helping someone who may not be able to afford a new toilet. The money that’s collected from the sale goes toward building or rehabbing a house for a family in need of affordable homeownership.
“So, that thing you’re already getting rid of just helped four or more people in this community,” Elliott says. “That’s why we’re here. We want to give people a hand up instead of a hand out.”
The Avon ReStore has enough room to display furniture and lots of other items, though there is also a storage room in back where they process everything they receive.
“That area has been filled to the brim at times,” says Elliott, who admits that if an item is quality, he will never turn it down. The ReStore does not accept mattresses or clothing, though they will come out to residences or businesses to pick up furniture, including couches, washers, dryers and more. Trucks pick up donations — both corporately and residentially — every Monday through Saturday (or donations may be dropped during business hours).
“It doesn’t have to be a big, bulky item for us to pick it up. We’ll come get picture frames if you want,” says Elliott, who suggests only donating those things you would consider giving to a friend — nice, clean, solid items.
“We don’t want to pass on problems. We like to make the shopping experience as easy as we can for everybody,” says Elliott, who had a woman come into the store after losing all of her belongings in a fire.
She had a place to stay but no furniture. With $100 to her name, she walked through the store with Elliott, picking out dishes as well as a complete living room and dining room set. When she opened her wallet to pay, Elliott charged her just $75, so that she would be left with $25. The woman burst into tears, touched by the manager’s generosity. She threw her arms around Elliott and promised she wouldn’t forget his kindness.
“There’s so much difficulty in the world that you have to take those moments to see the good that’s also happening around us,” says Elliott, noting that the ReStore attracts not only those who need furniture, appliances and home goods, but also the crafty folks who are looking to engage in repurposing projects.
“We have a bulletin board up by our door that has things that people have redone,” Elliott says. “For example, somebody took a cabinet door, put handles on it and made it into a serving tray. I’ve also seen people take the old glass gold globes in light fixtures and make them into terrariums.”
A few weeks after purchasing the living and dining room sets, the woman who had lost her belongings in a fire returned to ReStore to volunteer because she wanted to return the kindness that she was shown. Anyone 16 or older may volunteer at the ReStore, though younger children may also volunteer if they have a parent with them.
“Some people perform community service hours here,” Elliott says. “Others just want to do a good deed. We’re always happy to get extra help.”
Earlier this year, Elliott met a single mom, named Amy Brown, who built and purchased a Habitat house in Hendricks County in 2017. She told Elliott that when she signed up for the homeownership program, she decided that if she was fortunate enough to receive it, she would pay forward the hospitality by becoming a foster parent.
“She wanted to share that goodness with a child who needed a home, so that’s what she plans to do,” says Elliott, noting that witnessing people’s selflessness is one of the greatest rewards of his job. “It’s awesome seeing how much people give back.”
Giving back and granting hope is what ReStore is all about.
The ReStore is open 10 a.m.-6 p.m., Monday through Saturday. For more information, visit indyrestore.com.