Recycling enterprise

By Todd Cohen

FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. — Launched in September 1999 to produce income for Fayetteville Area Habitat for Humanity and Fayetteville Urban Ministry, The Re-Store Warehouse last year generated $350,000 from the sale 836,000 pounds of recycled or recyclable materials.

In July, the Fayetteville nonprofit plans to distribute 10 percent of its gross sales for the first six months of this year to Habitat and Urban Ministry.

The Re-Store has not yet turned a profit but did give each group $1,000 in 2003, and its board now wants to give each of them 5 percent of gross profits every six months, says Elizabeth Ferguson, executive director.

Housed initially in an 8,500-square-foot former Chevrolet dealership, the nonprofit moved in February 2004 into an 80,000-square foot building at 205 Forsythe St. that had been a warehouse for Southeastern Medical Supply.

The building was donated to the Cumberland Community Foundation, which charges the Re-Store a monthly administrative fee of $2,000.

The Re-Store last year also incurred $35,000 in one-time repair and maintenance costs for the move, and bought a used U-Haul truck for $4,000.

Sales last year more than tripled from $110,000 in 2003 because of the move and because the Re-Store began working with Picerne Military Housing on its 10-year project to privatize housing at Fort Bragg.

Picerne is remodeling or razing and rebuilding housing at the Army base, including roughly 200 housing units last year and another 200 this year.

Instead of discarding them in a landfill, Picerne is giving hardwood floors, cabinets, appliances, bathroom fixtures and other materials from the houses to the Re-Store.

The nonprofit also hopes to work with the state Department of Transportation to recycle materials from roughly 300 houses expected to be razed starting this fall to make way for construction of several loop highways, Ferguson says.

“Construction and demolition material is one of the largest users of the landfill,” she says. “If we weren’t here, that’s where the material would go.”

In 2003, before the move to larger quarters and the contract with Picerne, recycled or recyclable materials the Re-Store sold totaled 343,000 pounds.

Chaired by Matt Cockman, senior assistant public defender for Cumberland County, the Re-Store is one of nearly 200 building-supply thrift stores launched by Habitats in North America, including roughly 45 in North Carolina, although it is believed to be the only one formed to benefit both a Habitat and another agency.

With a staff of four full-time and two part-time employees, and roughly a dozen volunteers a month, the Re-Store is open Tuesday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Last fall, it formed a partnership with the industrial training department at Fayetteville Technical Community College, which teaches classes at the Re-Store in basic carpentry, brick masonry and major-appliance repair.

The Re-Store sells donated appliances that students repair, or birdhouses, doghouses or other items they build, and will use bricks they make for the walkway in front of its building.

As part of its effort to raise awareness about recycling, the Re-Store in April held its second annual recycled art show, featuring art made of recycled materials.

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