Spotlight: Construction Volunteer Jonah

Spotlight: Weaverville ReStore

The original "Habitat Home Store" on Biltmore Ave in 1990

The original “Habitat Home Store” in 1990.

By Danny Mendl

When former Executive Director Lew Kraus opened the (then called) “Habitat for Humanity Home Store” on Biltmore Avenue in 1990, the endeavor could almost be described as experimental. Asheville Area Habitat for Humanity became one of the first Habitat affiliates in the nation to help fund its housing programs by reselling donated goods. Residents of Asheville could donate gently used furniture and items that they no longer needed while shopping for things they did need at below retail prices, with proceeds from the process supporting the construction of affordable housing in their community. The experiment proved to be a hit, and after moving to its current location at 31 Meadow Road in 2001, the Asheville ReStore continued to grow into its status today as one of the top performing ReStores out of nearly 900 nationwide.

As Asheville Habitat’s flagship ReStore grew, so too did the volume of donated merchandise passing through the store. ReStore trucks picked up donations in the community at no charge, bringing new batches of secondhand goods into the store each day, while Habitat’s Deconstruction program filled the retail floor with in-demand building materials extracted from homes and commercial real estate prior to remodeling. When the time came for Asheville Habitat to open a second ReStore location, it was less experimental than inevitable.

 

In August of 2019, 29 years after the doors of the Asheville ReStore first opened, the Weaverville ReStore welcomed its first customers. Located in the Weaverville Crossings shopping plaza at 61 Weaver Blvd. where a hardware store once stood, the second, slightly smaller store was a natural fit for the Weaverville community and northern Buncombe County as a whole. Today, the Weaverville ReStore is an important source of funding for Asheville Habitat’s building programs; though Weaverville’s population is only 4% of Asheville’s, the Weaverville ReStore does roughly 33% of the total business of its Asheville counterpart.

A crowd of people waiting outside of the Weaverville ReStore on opening day.

The opening of the Weaverville ReStore in August of 2019.

The Weaverville ReStore accepts, processes, and resells much of the same merchandise as the Asheville ReStore: furniture, housewares, appliances, building supplies, art, and more. Despite its smaller size, the Weaverville store even matches the Asheville store with a secondhand bookstore of its own, complete with a selection of digital and analog media like DVDs, CDs, tapes, and records.

This summer will mark the fifth anniversary of the Weaverville ReStore, celebrating half a decade of diverting saleable goods from the landfill and affordably recirculating them throughout Buncombe County to support Asheville Habitat’s Homeownership and Home Repair programs. Looking forward to the next half decade to come, we sat down with Weaverville ReStore Manager Kim Klaas to reflect on what makes the Weaverville store unique:

 

Q: What’s the biggest difference between the Asheville and Weaverville ReStores?

A: *Laughs* “The size! Definitely the size of the space. The whole Weaverville store could fit in the Asheville ReStore’s upper showroom. But that’s okay, we just have to get a little bit creative to fit all of the generous donations from the community into our store.”

The main aisle of the Weaverville ReStore, surrounded by dining sets and furniture.

Inside the Weaverville ReStore

Q: Are there benefits to running a smaller store?

A: “Maybe the relationships. We get a lot of traffic from Asheville and the surrounding towns, of course, but Weaverville is a small town. The people who donate and shop here know about us, and they know about Asheville Habitat’s work. Maybe they know someone who purchased a Habitat home, have a friend who volunteers, or have a relative whose home had work done by our Home Repair team. They believe in the work that we do. The deals don’t hurt either!”

 

Q: What do you think are the best deals at the Weaverville ReStore?

A: “Is ‘everything’ an acceptable answer? If I have to choose, I think the bookstore is a hidden gem. Where else are you going to find a selection of books like this, including some new or recent prints, for only $1-$2 each?”

Rows of books inside the Weaverville ReStore's bookstore.

A look inside the Weaverville ReStore’s bookstore.

Q: Why would someone come to the Weaverville ReStore instead of the Asheville ReStore?

A: “Wrong question. You should visit both stores; we’re only 15 minutes apart! We carry mostly the same things as Asheville: building supplies, furniture, housewares, electronics, art, etc. We even have entire cabinet sets, sometimes multiple! But because our stores are donation-based, you’re going to find different items in each. Your search for the right couch isn’t complete until you’ve checked both.”

 

Q: You don’t think there’s anything that’s more likely to be found at the Weaverville ReStore?

A: “Alright, well, if we can keep a secret… I think there’s an older demographic here in town, and when they commit to spring cleaning, they donate some really cool vintage items that never last long. You’ll have to stop in to see.”

 

Q: What would you say to someone who hasn’t shopped at the Weaverville ReStore before?

A: “Don’t be shy, come visit us! And don’t be afraid to ask questions. The fun of the ReStore, and Habitat, is in its community. You never know, the person ringing you up at the register might be a friend of a friend, or possibly a future Habitat Homeowner contributing their Sweat Equity hours.”

Choosing the Mountains Over the Beach

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March is a fun and exciting time at Asheville Area Habitat as we provide an alternative spring break opportunity – Collegiate Challenge. Every year student from around the country comes to the Blue Ridge Mountains and spend a week volunteering with us.

ReStore: Not Your Average Thrift Shop

From thrift to consignment and antique to vintage, the Asheville area is full of places selling second-hand items. See what makes the Asheville Area Habitat for Humanity ReStores unique.

Housing: an issue we can all get behind

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Habitat is non-partisan: we bring people together. We unite people of various religions, ethnicities, socio-economic classes, and political beliefs around the common goal of building a world where everyone has a decent place to live. Housing is an issue we can all get behind.

Habitat ReStore Round Up: Small Change, Big Impact

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Shoppers at the Asheville Habitat ReStores can support more than Asheville Area Habitat for Humanity and affordable housing. Through the Register Round Up program, folks have the opportunity to contribute to the work of a wide range of non-profit organizations meeting myriad community needs. In 2023, thanks to the generosity of shoppers who chose to “round up” at the registers, $24,591 was raised and donated to 11 local non-profits and a Habitat for Humanity disaster response effort. 2023 beneficiaries were:

  • Neighbors in Need
  • MLK Jr. Association of Asheville & Buncombe County
  • Bounty and Soul
  • Mutual Aid Disaster Relief
  • Sunrise Community for Recovery and Wellness
  • Helpmate
  • Homeward Bound
  • The Mediation Center
  • Habitat for Humanity Maui (Wildfires relief efforts)
  • Asheville Poverty Initiative
  • ABCCM Veterans Restoration Quarters
  • The Steady Collective

“It was a big year and your contribution through the Round Up made a huge difference,” shared Aiyanna Foltz, Donor Relations Manager at Bounty and Soul. “We are so thankful to the ReStore and Habitat for Humanity for nourishing so many through the Register Round Up program!”

Kim Klass, Manager of the Weaverville Habitat ReStore and Chair of the ReStore’s Societal Impact Committee noted, “The ReStore provides a conduit; we are pleased to facilitate a connection to non-profits in the area doing good work. It’s the generosity of our shoppers that make this program so impactful. All the small incremental donations – 10, 30, 65 cents – add up to big change.”

In the program’s inaugural year, 2019, $11,717 was raised. Since then, thousands of small sub-$1 donations have cumulatively raised more than $105,000 for community partners.

To see the breadth of the Round Up program’s 2023 impact across the community, click here.