Inhabiting Your Home

Habitat for Humanity opens store to support home-building mission

Tom Giffey |

FILL ‘EM UP. A volunteer stocks shelves with donated items at the new Habitat for Humanity ReStore, 145 N. Clairemont Ave., Eau Claire.
FILL ‘EM UP. A volunteer stocks shelves with donated items at the new Habitat for Humanity ReStore, 145 N. Clairemont Ave., Eau Claire.

In order to build more houses for people in need, Chippewa Valley Habitat for Humanity wants to help you build yours – or at least help outfit it with new-to-you furniture, appliances, fixtures, and more.

The Eau Claire-based chapter of Habitat for Humanity recently opened a ReStore, which sells donated and discounted building supplies and items for the home, at 145 N. Clairemont Ave. While the ReStore is new to the Chippewa Valley, it’s not a new idea: Nationwide, Habitat chapters operate more than 1,000 ReStores. In fact, ReStores are the largest source of revenue for Habitat for Humanity, said Aaron Czappa, the group’s executive director.

The local chapter has been planning to create a ReStore for several years, and it has high hopes for the outlet, including raising $200,000 within the first few years for the charitable group’s main function: building affordable homes with the help of volunteers and “sweat equity” from lower-income families. Currently, Chippewa Valley Habitat for Humanity builds an average of one home each year; in the near future, Czappa said, the chapter hopes to increase that to two homes annually. In addition, they would like to revive the Brush with Kindness program, which provided home repairs.

The ReStore is key to these plans. Located in a building that most recently housed Variety Office Products near the intersection of North Clairemont Avenue and Menomonie Street, the ReStore offers about 6,000 square feet filled with donated items. Step into the store and you’ll find a showroom filled with couches, chairs, tables, cabinetry, washing machines, stoves, and even an antique pump organ. A second showroom is stocked with items catering to contractors and remodelers, including doors, plumbing fixtures, ductwork, shutters, and building supplies. All are for sale at half of the retail price (or less).

Czappa and store manager Nick Gross hope the store appeals to a broad variety of customers, from people looking for low-cost building supplies to newlyweds setting up households to artists and crafters seeking raw material for their creations.

“We plan on getting into a lot of upcycling,” Gross explained. In the near future, they intend to start offering Pinterest/DIY-style workshops on transforming donated items into useful or aesthetically pleasing objects. For example, with a little paint and imagination, wooden ceiling fan blades can be turned into decorative items.

In addition to donations – visit for a full list of acceptable items – the ReStore requires help. “We need volunteers to run the day-to-day operations,” Gross said. In addition to serving as sales associates, volunteers are needed to collect, clean, and even upgrade donated items. Czappa said Habitat is also in need of a box truck to help collect donations.

The ReStore is currently only open Thursday through Saturday (eventually, this will be expanded to five days a week), and donations are accepted on those days as well as on Tuesdays. And while it’s only been open since early July – with a grand opening tentatively planned for September – Czappa said he’s already heard plenty of positive feedback about the store and the home-building program it will support. It may be brand new, but the ReStore is providing a strong foundation for future construction – figuratively and literally.

Chippewa Valley Habitat for Humanity ReStore • 145 N. Clairemont Ave., Eau Claire (accessible from westbound Clairemont Avenue by exiting on Park Ridge Drive) • noon-7pm Thursday, 9am-1pm Friday and Saturday • donations accepted during business hours as well as 9am-1pm Tuesdays • (715)895-8177 • •