Habitat for Humanity of Dane County is no stranger to helping families build their own homes.
It's also doing a pretty good job of expanding its business model that helps finance home construction for those who otherwise might not have the means.
Less than three years after moving its East Side store into a 20,000-square-foot space along Monona Drive, Habitat is again expanding, only this time it's the West Side store that is getting bigger.
An additional 5,500 square feet for the store at 5906 Odana Road has increased the floor space to 18,500 square feet and provided more room for repairing and displaying light fixtures and for displaying flooring. The store's furniture department has increased in size and scope to include more upholstered items, there's more room for tools and a space to hold purchased items for pickup at a later time. The improvements also include new bathrooms and a point-of-purchase system that is making inventory and pricing more efficient.
The expansion is the latest move for the organization that has seen revenues for the two stores rise to $1.8 million from $1.2 million in 2014. About $500,000 is used each year from the stores to help Habitat build 15 homes in Dane County each year.
"I think, in this area, the thought of recycling and keeping this stuff out of landfills is big," said Craig Gielow, manager of ReStore West. "Almost everybody has stuff left over after their project and to have an easy place to be able to bring it to and get a tax deduction and for us to make some money to be able to build more houses for Habitat, it's a win for everybody."
What is now the Monona store was the first in the state and opened in 2001. Since that time, 28 other ReStores have opened in Wisconsin, including the ReStore West in 2012. That store was expanded by 1,000 square feet in 2013, but when the McGovern and Sons-Benjamin Moore paint store moved about 500 feet to the west in the same strip mall earlier this year, Habitat officials saw an opening to grab up more space and secure their future on Odana Road.
There also is talk of adding smaller ReStores in the suburbs surrounding Madison and within Dane County in the next three to five years. Steve Hanrahan, director of the ReStores, said the additional stores would serve as additional donation centers that could further expand the ReStore footprint in Dane County. Nationwide, there are about 900 Habitat ReStores, up from 750 in 2014.
"It's growing. And the way it's growing, primarily, is that affiliates are opening multiple stores," Hanrahan said. "They're not necessarily big stores. They're more like boutique stores."
But for now the focus is on continuing to grow sales at the two existing Habitat ReStores that have sales of $50 to $60 per square-foot, compared to the targeted sales of $40 per square foot nationally. The Madison stores combine to employ 12 people but are largely dependent on 100 volunteers who do a wide variety of jobs that include tending the checkout lanes, stocking shelves, making repairs to donated items and helping collect donations.
Kate Kemper has been a volunteer at the ReStores for eight years and now has plenty of space to organize bins of light fixtures and to ensure that they're in working order. A cordoned-off work area features a half wall that allows customers to see what lights are being prepared and work benches for volunteers to make repairs. Nearby, shelves are lined with glass light coverings, parts and stands.
"The space just turned out great," Kemper said. "The store just keeps getting better."