Cape Habitat's store exceeding expectations

Thursday, June 17, 2010
Walt Wildman is manager of the Cape Area Habitat for Humanity ReStore in Cape Girardeau. (FRED LYNCH ~

The popularity of incorporating retro elements into home design is helping thrift stores like the Cape Girardeau Area Habitat for Humanity's ReStore.

"I had a 1950s pink stove recently, and that was really the rage. People were fighting over it. I should have priced it higher," said ReStore manager Walter Wildman.

Proceeds from the $40 stove and other items at the ReStore help pay for materials to build homes for needy families.

Now in its third year of operation, the ReStore expects sales to top $110,000 in 2010, Wildman said. That's more than double the sales figures for its first year.

"It's really good growth. I just wonder how far it will go," Wildman said. "It really shows the support we have in the community."

It costs about $60,000 for Habitat to build each house. Organizers initially hoped after five years the proceeds from the ReStore would pay for one house, but this year alone its sales will pay for almost two houses, Wildman said.

Other ReStore benefits include tax deductions for people who donate items, good prices for shoppers and the reuse of items that otherwise would have ended up in landfills, Wildman said.

During the store's second year, when Wildman took over as manager, he instituted a pickup service to collect items people wanted to donate.

The one requirement of donations, he said, is that they must be something he can resell. The ReStore does not accept clothing, books or other small household items. It does accept many large items like furniture, working appliances and exercise equipment. The store even got a player piano recently.

After using Wildman's truck and renting trucks in the past, the ReStore just bought its own 14-foot box truck dedicated to picking up donations.

Customers have learned that the new items are always available on Thursdays and now Wildman said he often has 15 to 20 people waiting for him to open the doors at noon on Thursdays.

"It's like a race. People are throwing money at you to buy things as fast as you can ring them up," Wildman said.

The ReStore is averaging about $2,500 in sales during the 13 hours it's open each week.

With more funds available now to build Habitat for Humanity homes, the organization is looking for more families in the area to help.

Last year state Rep. Clint Tracy, who is a member of the local Habitat board, sponsored legislation that, after it was signed into law, changed guidelines to allow families making 100 percent of the median income, or about $31,000 a year, to now qualify for assistance from Habitat and groups like it.

"What Habitat was finding was that if both parents in a family were making minimum wage they were not making enough to be competitive for a commercial home loan, but they made too much to qualify for government housing," Tracy said.

Previous Missouri Housing Development Commission guidelines also didn't take into account families that have additional financial hardships while caring for an elderly relative or a child with disabilities, he said.

Wildman said families that were previously turned down by Habitat may now qualify for help.

The group hopes to build five new homes this year in the Cape Girardeau area. A total of 44 homes have been built by the Cape Area Habitat for Humanity around the area in Cape Girardeau, Jackson, Sikeston, Mo., Advance, Mo., Marble Hill, Mo., and Perryville, Mo.


About ReStore

Location: 117 N. Middle St., Cape Girardeau

Hours: Noon to 5 p.m. Thursday and Friday and from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday

Info: Item pickup is available at no cost on Tuesdays and Wednesdays by calling 651-9080. Items accepted include furniture, working appliances and building materials. Items not accepted include clothing, small household items and books.

Pertinent Address:

117 N. Middle St., Cape Girardeau, MO

Map of pertinent addresses

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