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Habitat opens second ReStore location in ViaPort Rotterdam

Habitat opens second ReStore location in ViaPort Rotterdam

Used furniture store a critical source of revenue for home builder
Habitat opens second ReStore location in ViaPort Rotterdam
Habitat for Humanity's new ReStore of Schenectady County site at ViaPort Rotterdam is seen on Nov. 28.
Photographer: Peter R. Barber

ROTTERDAM — Habitat for Humanity of Schenectady County has opened a second retail site for used furniture and home supplies. 

The ReStore location on Broadway in downtown Schenectady is a critical source of revenue for the non-profit agency, and Habitat expects the new store — in a centrally located space in ViaPort Rotterdam — to further boost its coffers, as well as its profile in the community.

The Rotterdam mall store is open noon to 6 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday. It opened quietly three weeks ago, and a ribbon-cutting ceremony is slated for Thursday.

All merchandise sold by ReStore is donated. ReStore manager Randy Sparrow said the mall location will stock choice items -- the more desirable pieces and the ones in the best condition. It sits next door to FYE near the food court, in space vacated when another tenant moved down the corridor.

Mall spokesman Alan Fanitzi said ReStore is the latest effort to move ViaPort beyond a traditional retail destination. Other occupants include an aquarium, a state tax processing office and a heritage center for the local Native American community. There’s also a large entertainment complex, and next year, the Empire State Aerosciences Museum will hang a Javelin J4 glider in the mall for an overhead display.

The steadily evolving inventory at the new ReStore will be a repeat draw for consumers looking for out-of-the-ordinary home items, Fanitzi expects.

A vintage 1960s sofa, for example, might be displayed near a relatively new set of kitchen cabinets, an art deco table and a kitschy lamp. None of it would be available for purchase new, and a lot of legwork would be required to track such items down piece by piece.

“I think it would drive traffic because they do have a lot of unique pieces there,” Fanitzi said. “It’s stuff you can’t really find anywhere.”

The store is organized as a home would be, with living room, dining room and bedroom items grouped together.

Julia Hayden, of Habitat, said ViaPort is giving the organization a discounted rate on the space. Habitat hopes having the second ReStore in Rotterdam will enhance its efforts to connect with the community.

Habitat is renovating one house in town in connection with the Capital Region Land Bank and is building another from scratch on its own. Also, it recently built an entrance ramp at the home of a disabled town resident.

Habitat for Humanity of Schenectady County is working to expand its presence in its 25th year, Hayden added. It is the only Habitat in the area with a Ramp Up program to build entrance ramps for the disabled, she said, and it is the only one in the state to have an educational partnership. Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake High School students are getting credit for refurbishing, rebuilding or repurposing items donated to ReStore that are high-quality but flawed in some way. Once fixed up, those items go on sale at ReStore.

Sparrow said ReStore has to be selective in what it stocks. Items that are serviceable but won’t sell are donated to organizations like Schenectady Home Furnishings, which gives furniture to the needy. Other items may wind up in the trash.

One morning last week, Sparrow recalled, he arrived at the Broadway ReStore and found a mattress and box spring stacked over the sign that says “NO DROP OFFS WITHOUT PRIOR APPROVAL.”

Such cases notwithstanding, one of the great successes of ReStore is that it diverts perfectly good items from the landfill, Sparrow said — 100 tons a year at the Schenectady store alone.

Donors realize four benefits: Free pickup of bulky items they no longer need, a tax deduction, the knowledge they have helped Habitat fund its mission and the sense of not having trashed a good piece of furniture.

Hayden said the ReStore truck goes out into the community twice a week by appointment, and she is already booking pickups into January.

Sparrow said ReStore revenues cover nearly all the fixed costs of Habitat for Humanity of Schenectady County — payroll, insurance, outreach — so donations can be used almost entirely for building and repairing homes for lower-income people.

The Schenectady County chapter has built more than 50 housing units in its 25 years and has repaired more than 100.

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