Buy green to save green so we can build green
Post Independent Contributor
One of the most popular furniture stores in Glenwood Springs isn’t technically a furniture store; it’s a Habitat for Humanity ReStore. In fact, says Scott Gilbert, president of Habitat for Humanity of the Roaring Fork Valley, it’s the No. 1 ReStore in the state. “We are the Nordstrom’s of ReStores in Colorado,” he said with a chuckle.
Shoppers flock from all over the country to ReStore’s boutique and home improvement warehouses to find one-of-a-kind items, mostly from upvalley hotels, remodeling projects and estate sales, at bargain prices. Even if you’re not in the market for a 125-year-old grand piano, antique French stone pinnacles or a queen-size bed from Prince Bandar’s Aspen estate, there’s plenty to find at ReStore, from construction materials and appliances to art, books and brand-new, room-sized area rugs.
Items sell for about 10 to 20 cents on the dollar, said Gilbert. And, the longer something is in the store, the cheaper it gets. “Yellow tags mean the price of the item goes down 10 percent a month,” he explained. “White-tagged items go down 20 percent a month.”
Proceeds go to Habitat for Humanity Roaring Fork Valley (HHRFV), the local affiliate of Habitat for Humanity International. The organization builds homes for low-income families. Since 2000, HHRFV has built 14 homes and, said Gilbert, ReStore is the engine that fuels the operation. “[The local] store brought in over $1.5 million last year,” he added.
Four 24-foot, diesel ReStore trucks pick up donations from Parachute to Aspen all day and bring them to the boutique and warehouses. The items are unloaded, catalogued, priced and staged, which means in-store items must be rearranged to make room. “It’s an ongoing daily battle to keep everything moving,” said Gilbert. “There’s always more stuff at the end of the day than when we started.”
To accommodate the store’s growing popularity, Gilbert moved the entire operation in December 2012 from the Cattle Creek location to what used to be (what else?) a furniture store along Highway 82, just south of the CMC turn-off. “We were busting at the seams, so we consolidated the boutique and warehouse in one location,” he said.
The buildings provide 21,000 square feet of store space with plenty of room for giant chandeliers. There’s also a 16,000-square-foot ReStore warehouse in West Glenwood Springs. “We’ve just about doubled the size of our stores,” said Gilbert. “We’re also more visible here.”
Shopping is fun when quality is high and prices are low, and ReStore offers the feel-good aspect of assisting with housing for those in need. But what ReStore customers may not realize is that they’re also protecting the planet by saving energy and keeping perfectly good stuff from ending up in the local dump.
A recent lighting upgrade for the boutique and neighboring warehouse will cut almost 70 percent off annual ReStore energy costs. And, last year, shoppers diverted more than 1,000 tons of that perfectly good stuff from the landfill, including 400 gallons of latex paint.
ReStore added recycled house paint to its inventory in November 2012 and started collecting used latex paint just before Earth Day this year. The paint is hauled to Denver and recycled by a company called GreenSheen.
According to the company’s website, latex paint is the highest volume waste stream in the nation. More than 565,000 pounds of latex paint were dumped in Douglas, Adams and Boulder counties in 2010.
GreenSheen collects, reformulates and repackages leftover paint and sells it back to Habitat ReStores in Colorado, Wyoming and Texas.
The paint comes in 12 colors and sells for an astounding $12.50 per gallon. White paint sells for $15 per gallon, which Gilbert said is about one-third the retail price. “It’s great paint,” he said. “People might not believe it because we think quality has to cost a lot, but it’s really great paint.”
Gilbert has been with Habitat for Humanity of the Roaring Fork Valley for eight years. He is proud of his staff and volunteers, and what ReStore has been able to accomplish. “We spare the landfill, create jobs, customers buy great stuff and donors get a cool credit,” he said. “It’s a win-win-win-win situation.”
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Over 75,000 hikers visited Hanging Lake during this year’s peak season. Via signage, the city hopes to point more of those hikers also in the direction of downtown Glenwood Springs.