Habitat for Humanity volunteers preparing new 20,000-square-foot ReStore site for its grand opening

WILLMAR -- More than a dozen retirees with construction skills are working longer hours these days to complete the remodeling of the former Goodwill Store into offices and showroom for the new ReStore operated by Habitat for Humanity of West Cent...

Volunteers with Habitat for Humanity have been working long hours in recent weeks to complete the remodeling of the former Goodwill Store on First Street South in Willmar into offices and a showroom for the new ReStore. Pictured above are Gene Fenstra, left, and Duane Olson. Tribune photo by Ron Adams

WILLMAR - More than a dozen retirees with construction skills are working longer hours these days to complete the remodeling of the former Goodwill Store into offices and showroom for the new ReStore operated by Habitat for Humanity of West Central Minnesota.
They have this week and next week to finish their work in time for ReStore’s public open house from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. March 1.
The ReStore will move from the smaller downtown location to the more spacious site at 2424 First St. S.
Ken Kruger of Spicer, a retired Atwater third-grade teacher who worked summers for his father’s construction company, is one of two on-site supervisors participating and overseeing the work with the 15-16 volunteers.
Kruger says the guys come from various career backgrounds but all love construction.
“They built walls, shelves, torn out walls, hung sheetrock, painted, tore out old carpeting,’’ said Kruger. “The guys have come from all over. They come from Prinsburg, Spicer, Willmar, New London. They worked two days a week but kicked it up to full schedule to get the work done.’’
And they’re a talented group.
“When we come in the morning, I just put a list up for the guys and they look and decide what they want to do. They’ve done it so often they’re just all reliable,’’ he said. “Our guys have so many skills. I think that’s the most amazing thing.’’
They all get along well, too, and the work provides a sense of accomplishment and an opportunity to give back to the community, says Kruger who along with others have helped build and rehabilitate Habitat for Humanity homes.
“They’re pretty proud when we get done with a house. Now we’re really proud of this because everything is turning out the way we planned it,’’ he said. “I’m happy with what we’ve done.’’
ReStore staff say agencies, businesses and organizations are also volunteering their services. They include Ridgewater College electrical students who installed new energy efficient ballasts in the fluorescent lights; rewiring by Willmar Electrical Service; Youth Build students from the Willmar Public Schools’ Alternative Learning Center who helped with projects; and volunteers from Long Prairie who have helped with flooring.
The Habitat ReStore in Willmar and in other Minnesota cities are retail outlets where quality used and surplus building materials are sold at a fraction of normal prices. ReStore proceeds help local Habitat affiliates fund construction of Habitat houses in those communities.
Joline Hovland, executive director of Habitat for Humanity of West Central Minnesota, said there is a demand for used construction materials.
“Our biggest sellers are cabinets and furniture,’’ she says.
According to the Habitat for Humanity Minnesota website, materials sold by ReStores are donated from building supply stores, contractors and remodelers. Also, Habitat does deconstruction and will take down cabinets, trim, doors and windows.
Besides raising funds, ReStores keep good, usable materials out of landfills.
“When they do remodeling, they should think ReStore because we can clean it, touch it up and whatever needs to be done and reuse it,’’ says Lori Petersen, interim ReStore manager.
Willmar’s ReStore opened in 2005 and was first located on Highway 71/23 North. The store closed in 2008 and reopened in May 2012 at the corner of Seventh Street and Litchfield Avenue Southwest.
The current store has 7,000 square feet, of which 3,000 square feet are for offices and 4,000 square feet for display. The new site has 20,000 square feet, of which 10,000 square feet will be display area.
Kerrie Wig, ReStore director, said the larger showroom will give customers a better view of items for sale. Wig said the manager of the Mankato ReStore was in Willmar to provide ideas on shelving placement and aisle spacing and display.
“Other people from the community who have experience in retail have offered display ideas,’’ she said. “We’re trying to utilize anybody that has had experience and getting ideas from them.’’
Petersen said ReStore will highlight a certain item the first of every month and allow interested parties to bid on that item for one week.
“Recently we had a beautiful complete set of oak kitchen cabinets with granite countertops donated, so we will be featuring these for our March item of the month,’’ said Petersen.
Customers will also find the new site has easier access.
“While they’re shopping down this direction they can stop right on in and see what new things we have and we’re hoping to have new things coming in and going out all the time,’’ said Wig.
She said things have fallen into place.
“Every time we start getting a little bit nervous and having our little doubts, God has just put the right people in our path and just let us know he’s in control and that this is the plan.’’

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