Habitat for Humanity Vancouver Island North (Habitat VIN) relies on the two ReStores to help raise money for its affordable home building projects.
Closing the Courtenay and Campbell River stores due to COVID-19 meant the loss of the non-profit society’s main source of funding.
That all changes as of Wednesday. Habitat ReStore staff are moving their social enterprise online with contactless pick-up in Campbell River and Courtenay.
The Habitat ReStore is a social enterprise that sells new and gently-used household items donated by both individuals and corporations. ReStore revenues cover Habitat’s operational costs, allowing Habitat VIN to direct all donations to building homes.
While the major loss in revenue was detrimental to Habitat VIN’s plans to build three more homes in Campbell River and two in Courtenay by the end of the year, the decision was made not to jump into online sales before making a strong plan around health and safety.
“We didn’t want to re-open in any capacity until we could ensure the safety of our employees and customers,” explained Pat McKenna, Habitat VIN’s executive director.
Habitat closed the doors to the ReStores on March 18, and was forced to lay off all ReStore staff shortly after. By moving to online sales, Habitat VIN is able to recoup revenues and begin hiring back employees.
Payment can be made online or over the phone with a credit card. A staff member will then call to arrange a pick-up time. When picking orders up, customers are asked to stay in their vehicles with windows up. After staff confirm the purchaser’s identity, merchandise is brought outside and the customer can load it into their vehicle.
Returns and public donations are not being accepted at this time, due to the safety risk. Habitat hopes to replenish its Restore inventory through corporate donations, which are still being accepted. Currently only paid staff are operating in the stores, but volunteers are helping in other ways, such as sewing masks to keep the ReStore team safe.
Habitat plans to keep the online ReStores in some capacity after they are able to re-open their physical stores.
“We’re looking at this as an opportunity to innovate and try new things. We already have success selling through Facebook, so we think our customers are open to supporting us in a new way,” said McKenna.
Learn more and shop the online Habitat ReStore by visiting habitatnorthisland.com/restore.