ReStoring an image
by Clay Neely - firstname.lastname@example.org
Chris Stroud, like many other Coweta residents, was — until recently — unaware of one of the many local consignment stores tucked away in the corners of the county.
“I’ll be honest. I was born and raised here in Newnan, but up until just last year, I didn’t even know this place existed,” said Chris Stroud, manager of Newnan-Coweta Habitat for Humanity’s ReStore on Pine Road.
The ReStore, which resells donated building materials and home goods to the public, raises funds for the local Habitat for Humanity chapter’s efforts to build and renovate housing to provide affordable homes for eligible residents.
The path that led Stroud to his current position was an unlikely one. After a 13-year career in the professional golf industry, Stroud found himself looking for a new line of work.
“I was a PGA golf professional for 13 years. But the golf business hasn’t been in the best shape lately, so I told my wife that I’d just find something local to do,” said Stroud. “I fell in love with the mission of this place and I’ve really bought into what we’re doing and how we’re affecting families in the community.”
“When you think about the people we help and reach, it’s very fulfilling,” said Stroud. “Sure, I miss the golf world. But the things I miss are overshadowed by the feeling at the end of the day, knowing the impact that we might have had on a family.”
Stroud considers his new position to be more than simply a job.
“It was definitely divine intervention,” said Stroud. “A man at our church offered me a position at his own company, but at the last minute he found this position here at the ReStore and asked if I’d be interested. So I made a phone call and now here I sit.”
Stroud’s approach to the ReStore is similar to the approach he took as a golf professional. He believes in the power of customer service and creating a comfortable layout for the store and its customers.
“My basic method of operation is that I want to turn everything out in 90 days so the store never looks stale,” said Stroud.
His vision for the future of the ReStore would be a front showroom that resembles a furniture store and right through the double doors to the back, a shopping experience that feels similar to a Lowe’s or Home Depot with long, wide aisles filled with doors, plumbing, electrical and appliances.
Stroud continuously acknowledges the power and usefulness that all people possess.
“We’re so blessed to have a gentleman who retired from the appliance repair industry. He started as volunteer and we ultimately put him on the payroll because it worked out so well and he loves what he does,” said Stroud.
“We get amazing products in here. It’s unreal what people give away. Ultimately, I want to change the public’s perception of what we do. For example, if a washing machine kicks the bucket, most won’t rush out to buy something brand new right away,” said Stroud. “We want them to think of us first because they’ll know we carry high-quality products and they’re going to get it for half the price along with a 90-day warranty. It’s a no-brainer.”
So far, the results are looking positive. Stroud notes the demographic for the ReStore is starting to hit his target.
“We are getting treasure hunters for sure and seeing BMW, Lexus and Mercedes cars in our parking lot. We currently have a piano in the back which is valued around $50,000 to $80,000. It was a donation, but I would be happy to simply get 5 to 6 grand for it,” said Stroud.
The amount accepted for each item sold from Restore helps to fund Habitat for Humanity. Stroud has learned quickly that each donation and the item’s value should benefit both the customer and the cause. “You can’t give everything away. You have to respect the donor,” said Stroud. “We’re assuring our donors that we are going to get the best donation we can for them. However, we’re making unbelievable deals on these items and we don’t hold goods. It’s first-come, first-serve and we treat everyone the same.”
The possibilities are there, according to Stroud. The more often you shop, the more likely you are to find what you’re looking for.
“From art to automobiles,” said Stroud. “If you find a treasure, good for you. But, for us, we’re just focused on getting rid of items so we can buy building materials for future homes. There’s a fine balance. You want to respect the donation but I don’t want it sitting around so I price it to move.”
Stroud strives to keep his inventory circulating so that his store looks fresh and keeps people’s interest up, paying note to his customers that are coming in two to three times a week to see what might be new.
However, starting next month, the ReStore will be changing its hours and its focus.
“We’ll be open from Wednesday through Saturday but we’ll be accepting donations Monday through Saturday. Our focus is slowly shifting from the customer to the donor,” said Stroud.
“We want to create as many opportunities as possible to get those quality donations. We get a lot of donations because we don’t say no. Even if it’s a broken washing machine, I can find ways to move it, even if it means selling it to the scrap yard,” said Stroud. “If we start turning away donations, people will start looking somewhere else.”
Stroud feels that the ReStore’s biggest misconception in the community is the quality that they offer.
“People might think that we don’t have good stuff when, in fact, we get very, very good stuff,” said Stroud. “Right now I have a pallet of unfinished red oak hardwood flooring, tongue in groove, 420 square feet of it and it’s on the floor for $600. That’s a steal and the kicker is that we get things like that quite often.”
“We get Ethan Allen, fine china — we had a Duncan Phyfe sofa from the early 1900s in perfect shape but from a bad part of town. All the research we found on it had it listed for around $550, but we sold it for $300. It was gone in two days.”
Stroud wants the shopping experience to be as easy as possible for his customers and offer them a comfortable shopping environment.
“We don’t want to be just some old thrift store,” said Stroud. “We have a huge mission we’re trying to accomplish and that motivates all of us. Honestly, one of our biggest goals is being viewed as a viable competitor in the minds of the public.”
Looking to expand their reach. Trying to get the word out and let people know about the operation. “Habitat has a solid name and rep so it’s beneficial for us.”
“Right now we’re only doing half of what we can potentially do based on the demographics of Coweta County,” said Stroud.
However, for Stroud, it’s not all about the material donations at the ReStore. He feels that the donations that people make of themselves are just as important.
“We invite people from all walks of life to volunteer as well. People who either know about wood, about electrical, about plumbing or anything,” said Stroud.
“Everyone has something to offer whether they know it or not.”