There is business in nonprofits. To be viable, a nonprofit must raise money, and it must or should operate as a business would with its eye on expenses and expenditures.
Most nonprofits solicit donations which they in turn use to address their mission. Some, in turn, sell what has been donated to them to raise money. With all of that said, it should not be a surprise that one of the most successful of these types of nonprofits locally is the Habitat Restore on Cherry Street.
The Restore just eclipsed the $500,000 mark in sales of donated items including everything from old records, books, and house wares to used furniture. Started in 1997 by a group of retired Georgia Southern University professors, the Restore is now a 15,000-square-foot operation open to the public on Saturdays from 9 am to 2 pm.
Doty Dunn, board president of Habitat for Humanity of Bulloch County, said the professors have gone from retired deans to “sofa kings” driving around town picking up furniture to sell in the Restore.
“It is just amazing what that this group of ‘old men’ has been able to do,” Dunn said. “This is a group of retired Ph.D.(s) that took on this project. It not only serves a need in the community by making available to the public used furniture, appliances, and household goods at reasonable prices, but it generates funds to build homes through the Habitat for Humanity of Bulloch County.”
Dunn is right, I have been down there and have seen it for myself. It is a group of “old men.” But kid yourself not, they know what they are doing and have it down to a “science.”
When I toured the Restore with Warren “Spike” Jones (the unofficial leader of the pack) and Don Thompson, they readily pointed out every nook and cranny of the Restore and where the items came from. They are even auctioning off on a website some old flooring and molding that came out of the houses that were demolished to make room for the new police station.
“Most of our stuff is very inexpensive with some things priced to sell for a dime,” Jones said. “However, over the years we have been fortunate to receive donations of sail boats and cars which we in turn have auctioned off.”
Thompson said the group’s unofficial motto is “bring us anything that you don’t have to feed or wear.”
“At times we will receive clothes, and we have an agreement with other nonprofits who deal in clothes donations to take those, but it isn’t something that we are set up handle and sell,” Thompson said. “One of the things that people probably don’t realize we do is to restore computers that are donated to us. We get a good deal of computer hardware that is out of date, so we restore a lot of it and donate it to places that can use it. If at all possible, we don’t like to see anything go to waste.”
I have to admit that I got a little tickled when these fellows showed me with great pride their Christmas section. It is clear that they now realize the importance of Christmas decorations and doodads and how it affects the bottom line of the Restore.
“We begin collecting and getting ready for Christmas right about now,” Jones said. “We have a special Christmas section, and the stuff will begin to sell like crazy in October or so.”
These guys don’t miss a trick. Before a used appliance is sold at the Restore, it is checked out by a professional and determined to be in proper working order. If by chance, there is a problem with the appliance when it is installed, the Restore will send its professional out to the home to fix it.
Providing service with a smile, half a million dollars later. As my teenagers might say, “You old guys rock!”