Payson Area Habitat For Humanity Shares Its Best-Kept Secret

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The Payson Area Habitat for Humanity ReStore inventory changes every day. Stop in and you might find enough furniture to redo a living room — or an organ on which to learn a new hobby. You can find a full-sized range for the kitchen or a microwave in just about every size and everything is offered at a reasonable price, with the proceeds helping the PAHH program that improves lives.

The best-kept secret in Payson is a secret no more. Once voted the “Best Kept Secret in Payson” — the Habitat for Humanity ReStore is like the “little engine that could.” Starting on a wing and a prayer in March 2008 with the help of the Walla family, dedicated staff and volunteers stocked the store with “just enough donations to fill each shelf” according to outgoing store manager, Kathy Bickert, who has led the ReStore team from the beginning. In less than 18 months, the little store outgrew its 3,000-square-foot domain, and Habitat took another leap of faith — moving into a 7,000-square-foot store next to the Urgent Care in the Payson Center, where McDonald’s is located, at the corner of Highways 87 and 260.

Now, the ReStore is making another transition, as Bickert makes one of her own — moving on to reopen a Payson landmark, the 260 Café. It’s both a sad and joyful move, as she pursues her lifelong dream of becoming a chef. Bickert will leave the ReStore in the very capable hands of interim manager, Joyce Karnes, who will manage the store until a new ReStore manager can be found. Joyce’s team includes fix-it shop manager Scott Culbertson, another longtime volunteer, along with friendly donation coordinators Zach Horsley and Aaron Batey. Bickert has faith the store will continue to grow and thrive.

“I feel our success is due to our friendly staff and to our dedicated volunteers. We also like networking with the community, our customers and donors, friends and family, and our local contractors and businesses, all of which have been a huge part of the ReStore’s growing to the size it is today,” she said.

Something new and unexpected every day

So what’s in the ReStore? That depends on the day you come visit, because the inventory is always changing. The store carries everything from appliances and furniture, to construction materials like sinks, cabinets, countertops, doors, windows, fencing and paint. You’ll often find electronics, computers, books, videos, lighting and accessories of all shapes and sizes. Furniture like sofas, dining sets and shelves tend to sell pretty quickly. So do appliances. Right now, you’ll even find CD-making and packaging equipment.

Today, Culbertson is stacking pieces of aluminum siding. Tomorrow, they might end up as metal sculpture, or put to good use in a remodeling project, rather than ending up in the landfill. At the counter, a local woman buys an overstuffed chair and some glass fuses for her mom to use in art projects. In the store manager’s office, Kathy and Joyce research the price of a first edition memoir by Ulysses S. Grant.

“Reuse and Recycle” has always been the motto of the store, which literally has given new life to thousands of pounds of merchandise that might otherwise end up in the landfill. Loyal customers love the ReStore, and not only because (in true Payson thrift-store tradition) they can find new treasures every day, but because the store is a genuinely fun place to be. Even well behaved four-legged friends are welcome.

One customer says, “When we started shopping at the ReStore we never thought a Thrift Store would be so fun and friendly. As we continue to go back every week, because we don’t want to miss out on anything, Kathy and her staff have helped us find items and make new friends and now we have a thrift store family. Heck, she even knows the dog’s name and he knows where the treats are.”

People come to shop and also to visit friends. Larry, a loyal customer, says it this way, “The ReStore has been an amazing place to shop. Every time I go in, it’s my ‘Happy Place.’ There’s always plenty of customers and laughter in the aisles, as the staff is hard at work.”

A larger mission

Beyond giving new life to gently used furniture, household items, appliances, tools and construction supplies, the ReStore has a larger mission. It provides financial support for the Payson Area Habitat for Humanity to help build or renovate homes for deserving families.

Habitat volunteers are also planning some new projects for 2012 and beyond.

“Neighborhood revitalization is all about working with our community, other nonprofits, and businesses to identify areas of greatest need and create positive changes in the community,” says new executive director Jennifer Baltz.

“We’re starting out with smaller projects like critical home repairs, painting and weatherizing for lower-income families and seniors, so we can help even more people in our area.”

In true Habitat tradition, the programs are a hand up, not a handout — qualifying homeowners will contribute time and a portion of the cost to help pay it forward to others in need.

“Working on day-long projects is a great team-building opportunity for businesses, groups and faith-based communities. You can make a big difference without making a big time commitment,” says Baltz.

Donating to Habitat and the ReStore

A great place to start now is by donating your gently used furniture, appliances, household goods, and building supplies to the ReStore. Donations should be in working order, and in good condition, so they can be resold.

“We don’t take clothes or mattresses, and we ask that you donate only items that can be resold,” notes Karnes. “That is a big help to us.”

Call (928) 474-4247 for pick-up of large items. Make your donations before the end of the year if you want to take a charitable deduction on your 2011 taxes. Volunteers are also warmly welcomed at the store, no matter how many hours you can give.

Cash contributions to the Payson Area Habitat for Humanity also qualify for the dollar-for-dollar Arizona Charitable Tax Credit if you itemize.

Your tax dollars can stay here and do good works in Payson and the Rim Country.

The ReStore is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Wednesday through Saturday — however, it will closed on Black Friday, Nov. 25. It will be open on Saturday, Nov. 26.

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