VINELAND - The new ReStore on Delsea Drive has used furniture, appliances, dish sets, carpet and flooring remnants, enough cabinets to outfit a kitchen, and yes, even the kitchen sink - several of them.
The store, operated by the Cumber-land County Habitat of Humanity, open-ed this month at the site of the old Ace Hardware store near Chestnut Avenue. Opening day was a flurry of activity as customers arrived as soon as the doors opened.
"I'm in my element," said volunteer Lois Carr, of Maurice River Township, as she helped check out purchases, packing smaller items into reusable ReStore bags. "This is my first time volunteering, but it's for a good cause,"
She even convinced her husband, George, to help out.
"They only ask for four hours a week," Carr said. "But I might do more. I'm really enjoying it."
Proceeds from the store will help fund the construction of new homes for working low-income families in Cumberland County who might not otherwise be eligible to buy a home. Cumberland County Habitat for Humanity chapter Executive Director Robert Scarpa said the chapter wanted to open a store for several years, but it was only last year when the site became available and plans fell into place.
Groups of volunteers worked with professionals since October to get the building ready.
Scarpa said the chapter's goal is to raise the cost of a house, about $80,000, each year, which allows them to add a second home to the one they already build. Much of the labor, and even some materials, are donated, making the market value of the homes about $130,000.
"With a store this size, and the location, I am confident we will do well," Scarpa said.
The store has three paid workers, said manager Karlyn Johnson. In addition to Johnson, there is assistant manager Jessica Guadalupe and driver Anthony Smith. The rest of the 25 or so workers are volunteers, and more are always needed, especially anyone with expertise in housing repairs and construction. The store will pick up donated items for free, and will deliver larger purchased items for a fee within Cumberland County.
Johnson said the store will not take clothing or mattresses, but will accept anything having to do with homes. The biggest sellers are appliances and furniture. Prices are based on condition and average $50 to $200. The furniture section is set up like a retail store, and several items already sported "sold" tags on opening day.
Patricia Guadalupe, of Vineland, mother of the assistant manager, said five family member have volunteered to work in the store.
"I already sold a dishwasher," said the Vineland school district employee, as she staffed the appliance section on opening day. "It's really exciting to sell something that is going to help someone get a house."
Patricia Guadalupe said the only appliances the store will not accept are old-fashioned box television sets, a row of which lined a wall. Flat-screen TVs are welcomed.
The store has an eclectic mix of items ranging from a $350 leather sofa that quickly sold to a $60 set of Mikasa china to a large whirlpool bathtub for $75. There are books and tools and ceiling fans. Volunteer Scott Pletcher, of Millville, worked down by the tools.
"I saw they needed volunteers, and I like that they build homes and help people," Pletcher said. He also likes that the home buyers have to put in sweat equity by helping to build their home.
"It builds a sense of community," he said.
Tom Baxter, of Millville, a retired engineer, has worked on Habitat homes, and helped supervise groups of young volunteers who helped get the store ready. Several youth and college groups helped as community service projects, some coming from as far away as New Hampshire.
"I like to work with young people, teach them skills," said Baxter, who has been doing volunteer youth work with churches and other groups for 35 years. He said now that the store is open, he can get back to work on the home under construction in Vineland.
Project manager Tim Miller, a Vineland native now living in Newfield, works in construction. He saw on Facebook that Habitat was looking for volunteers, and showed up to help. He started working on a house in Millville then came over to help prepare the store, working right up to the opening.
"The last two or three weeks we were doing 12-hour days," Miller said. "My job was to get it open."
He said they even found some tools they needed among the donated items.
"The donations have been great," he said. "But we always need more."
Contact Diane D'Amico:
Cumberland County Habitat
for Humanity ReStore
601 S. Delsea Drive, Vineland
Hours: Noon to 8 p.m. Wednesdays,
9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Thursdays and Fridays and 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturdays
Donated items can be picked up for free, but there is a delivery charge for large items purchased at the store.
The store accepts furniture, appliances, household and construction items. It does not accept clothing or mattresses.