Response was mixed when the Habitat for Humanity Surplus Store pulled up its roots at the corner of Trent and Hamilton last April and ventured east to Spokane Valley.
Skeptics wondered how the store would succeed in a remote location off Sullivan in a far corner of the Spokane Industrial Park. Others thought the new site, featuring added space and a completely enclosed showroom, would thrive.
A year later, it appears proponents of the move were on target.
The Habitat for Humanity Surplus Store celebrated its 1-year anniversary earlier this month at a new home in the Spokane Industrial Park in Spokane Valley. The store offers building supplies, household items, appliances and more at drastically reduced prices. Proceeds from the store help fund Habitat’s ongoing mission to provide affordable housing. Pictured above (from left to right): Amber Cyr, Jill Murray, Katie Davis, Bill Turpin, Penny Clarke and Dave Lynch.
Photo by: Craig Howard
The 32,000-square-foot venue has become a destination point for discount shoppers from throughout the region, from Spokane to Idaho to Montana. It turns out the building is not as difficult to find as first thought – drivers take a right off Sullivan about a mile before Wellesley and access to Interstate 90 is less than 10 minutes away, even with construction.
“We lost a great location at Trent and Hamilton but gained an opportunity to serve the Spokane Valley in a better way,” said Michone Preston, executive director of Habitat-Spokane. “Our store is doing well. People are finding us at our new location.”
Unlike the previous site – characterized by numerous levels, an outdoor display area and enough nooks and crannies to be included in an historical district – the new setting is spacious and orderly. A single, enclosed showroom has elements of Lowe’s, Home Depot and a neighborhood antique store. Even the receiving dock is covered and roomy.
“Parts of the old store were outside,” said store manager Dave Lynch. “We used to have to clean the snow off the tile – we don’t have to do that anymore.”
The single level means shoppers can meander from a section featuring cabinets to the lighting department in a matter of a few strides.
“A lot of customers have expressed their appreciation for not having to navigate so many stairs,” Lynch said.
In addition to an array of building supplies like doors, windows, sinks and shelving, the store carries household items like dishware as well as furniture, books and a variety of knickknacks. Paint, tile, bricks and cement are available for renovation projects around the house.
Most of the products here are donated by builders and residents. Some of the items, like paint, are purchased new by Habitat. As a general rule, prices are half of typical retail cost, unless the item is used or damaged.
“People who have surplus materials bring them here and it helps other people who normally couldn’t afford them,” said Penny Clarke, who greets customers as they arrive at the store and helps coordinate donations.
The retail site accounts for around 10 percent of Habitat-Spokane’s annual revenue with funds going to build up to half-a-dozen affordable homes for area residents. Grants and donations from local businesses, individuals and the faith community comprise the majority of the agency’s budget.
Those who donate materials are encouraged to bring them directly to the store. For those who cannot make the trip to Spokane Valley, Paul Lapinski drives a truck all over the Inland Northwest, gathering items on the average of half-a-dozen stops a day. Lapinski says he enjoys the work because the funds from donated items “are helping people build homes.”
As the head cashier, Katie Davis knows the names of many who stop by the store. She is quick with a song and story and says the new look of the store “is way more organized.”
“Everything is labeled and easy to find,” she said. “It’s cleaned up and it looks great.”
Clarke said one of the keys to the positive environment is “everyone working together.”
“We’re a good team,” she said.
As with Habitat’s ongoing effort to construct cost-effective homes, volunteers play a major part in the store’s continued success. Bob Turpin, a semiretired insurance salesman, began donating time here about four months ago and says he enjoys being part of a constructive environment.
“I think it’s the attitudes of the people here,” Turpin said. “The reward is knowing that you’re helping people.”
Want to find out more?
The Habitat for Humanity Surplus Store is located at 3808 N. Sullivan Road in Spokane Valley. Hours are 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Saturday. To learn more about the store or other Habitat programs, call 534-2552 or visit www.habitat-spokane.org.