Photo by Charles Petty

By Charles Petty

One of Lee County’s major nonprofits celebrated a series of new upgrades to its facilities on Saturday, upgrades which will not just benefit the nonprofit’s mission, but also the general shopping public.

Early morning shoppers at the Habitat For Humanity ReStore, located at 413 Wicker Street in downtown Sanford, came in as usual look for bargain items like chairs for $25, books at $1 each, and Duke Energy-donated lightbulb cases for 99 cents a pack.

The hustle and bustle of the store put a smile on the faces of the faithful volunteers who help to operate the store. But along with the usual shoppers inside the ReStore, volunteers gathered and celebrated the renovations to the thrift store that has become a community staple. Among the gathered were a group of St. Luke United Methodist Church youth selling snacks. Food trucks were parked in the parking lot and a small dedication service took place at the entrance.

“The community has really jumped in to help us with the store,” said Nancy Neal, manager of the ReStore. “We give God the glory and are thankful for those who have supported us with the renovations.”

Renovations to the store include new signage and reorganized shelving to make the store more open and accessible, as well as new flooring put down by Sanford-based ABC Restoration and painted by volunteer Les Soden. The store also now features a new checkout counter.

The store has been in its current location, formerly a grocery store, for more than five years. All funds raised at the store go toward Habitat’s mission of building affordable housing.

Kimberly Rau has been Habitat’s executive director since January. Rau, a former business consultant said being a nonprofit director fits well from her previous career.

“I definitely believe in our mission, which is to build affordable housing. I believe in making things good and turning them great,” she said. “We have a good and wonderful store, and with my skill sets this was a great opportunity to take my previous experience to help others.”

Also among the unique features of the store is a section called “Habitat for Birds,” which is a special area for reduced-price bird feed and supplies. The bird store also features its own checkout counter and special shelving for the bird feed. It is the only one in the Habitat community in the country. A seasonal section has also been added to include decorations for holidays.

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