We asked an expert how to do it right. Here’s what she told us.
Habitat ReStore on Wyandotte Street in Martin City is a goldmine for resourceful shoppers interested in a wide variety of household, remodeling, and gift items. Prices are low — extremely low. That’s what ReStore is known for. Great deals on quality merchandise surprise everyone passing through the 50,000 square foot retail space. No required memberships, no private access restrictions, just walk right in and take a look around! ReStore is open to the public.
Builders, construction companies, contracting giants, and other big names in Kansas City business regularly donate merchandise, materials, and supplies when they wind up with more than they can use or just no longer need it. Most of the products for sale here are brand new. Others are very gently used. But make no mistake, this isn’t a thrift shop. You won’t find clothing, jewelry, or glassware trinkets. Think big box home store, but without the big box prices.
How does ReStore do it? First of all, it doesn’t have the expenses to cover like typical retail chains do. Plus, ReStore is built differently. It’s a Habitat for Humanity of Kansas City fundraising operation that turns excess into an opportunity to do good. Donors drop off items, ReStore prepares the items for quick sale, and then shoppers make purchases that fund Habitat’s affordable housing programs. A whopping 80 cents or so of every dollar directly benefits Habitat. The Martin City ReStore has only been open a few years, and raked in more than a million dollars in sales during the first year alone.
Power Shopping with Doris Graves.
So, deals at ReStore are everywhere. But if you really know what you’re doing, you can power shop even better bargains that you’ll want to brag about. That’s where Doris Graves comes in.
“I’m sort of on speed dial when I come in here,” Graves told us on a personal tour of ReStore. “I know exactly what to look for, and where to find it.”
Graves is known for her expert eye and refined judgment when it comes to interior spaces and the decor that brings them to life. She owns The Little Green Acre short-term rental house in Martin City, professionally stages homes across the metropolitan area, and has a long track record of operating and supporting local retail stores specializing in the eclectic, the interesting, and the hard to find. She’s a natural at giving new context to old furnishings, discovering new treasures, and arranging all of it in wonderful ways. Her clients include owners of some of Kansas City’s most beautiful homes and her award-winning work has even been noted by the New York Times.
“I’ve been in Habitat ReStore hundreds of times over the years,” says Graves, waving to an employee as we walk together. “You have departments here just like in a big box store and there’s just so much to browse. I don’t waste much time shopping around because I know I’ll find what I need here, and at a fraction of the cost.”
Are you feeling the pain of inflation? Graves says that may be your best reason to shop ReStore. “If you don’t have much to spend or didn’t plan for a certain expense, there’s no better place. You feel like you’ll waste your money if you don’t spend it here.”
Even if saving money isn’t your priority, how about just doing the right thing? “A lot of us talk about trying to ‘go green.’ How do you practice green? It’s shopping at places like this. This is a great opportunity to recycle what’s already out there and available, instead of searching for something new. Plus, the money you spend goes to a nonprofit organization doing important work in the community.”
“We’re really trying to raise awareness for the unique possibilities here,” says Manager Chris Luna. Like many ReStore employees, Luna knows Graves and is grateful for her support. “People say ‘I didn’t know I could just walk in and shop here. I didn’t know Martin City had something like this.’ And then they become regular customers. We just need to spread the word and the rest will take care of itself.”
After talking with Luna, and spending time shopping with Graves, we came away with these 5 tips for digging deeper to make the most of your ReStore adventure:
PRO TIP #1: Know Your Discounts
ReStore prices are already low, low, low. But if you’re savvy, you can push them even lower. Keep an eye out for discounts, including 10% off for veterans every day. Martin City’s ReStore and other area locations also slap day-to-day deals and discounts on Facebook and other social media platforms.
“And you’ve got to check the big board at the front door,” says Graves. “That’s where I start because it highlights some of the best current deals throughout the store.”
PRO TIP #2: Shop early and often
Beware. You’ve got to get up pretty early in the morning to compete with power shoppers like Doris Graves. The early bird can get a lot of worms at ReStore.
“Many days, I’ll get here as soon as they open. ReStore sometimes receives products overnight and gets them out on the shelf by the next day. Mornings often offer advantages for serious shoppers.”
Graves says she may come back again in the afternoon and find more products. “It pays to keep a close watch on their inventory. It really does. If you live in the area, just swing by when you get a chance. It’s sort of a way of life for me.”
PRO TIP #3: Think ‘potential’ as you browse
This is where Graves excels, but with a little practice, you can get the hang of it too. Look at ReStore products as what they could be with a little enhancement and the right placement. “Maybe you come across a full size mirror, but the color of the frame doesn’t match your wall. You can repaint it in a snap. Or maybe grab a good deal on a kitchen cabinet or door and then fix it up with higher quality knobs or other hardware.”
There’s certainly no shortage of cabinets, and everything else ranging from doors, windows, wall art, and rugs, to tiles and trim. “The possibilities are endless. Think about what you could do with a little creativity and all these resources. You can make something fresh and exciting.”
PRO TIP #4: Swing by ReStore before you hit the hardware store
Need a tool or maybe some screws? ReStore features row after row of hardware supplies. There’s typically a ton of electrical basics, rope, hinges, nails, tape, switches, plugs, paint and more. “Why would you pay top retail for this kind of stuff? It’s a remodeler’s dream. Look at all these toilets and other plumbing fixtures. Yep, check here, first.”
PRO TIP #5: Be ready for the unexpected
Graves knows it pays to be resourceful and efficient. That’s why every time she shops ReStore, she’s prepared to pick up something she doesn’t need. It’s not an impulse. It’s a strategy.
“Make time to see the whole store and look around carefully. Maybe you don’t need a microwave or refrigerator right now, but the price is so good that you should go ahead and pick it up so you don’t spend more later. I do that all the time. That’s how I work. It’s always my mindset when I’m here. You save real money in the long run.”
And strike when the iron’s hot. ReStore’s inventory fluctuates depending on donations. That ceiling fan, lighting fixture, or accent chair may not be there the next time you come by. And who knows if it will ever be available again. “Bring your measurements. Be ready to grab the right thing at maybe the wrong time. Consider it an investment. You’ll be glad you did.”
We’re so proud to have a ReStore right here in Martin City. It’s a great business and an amazing fundraising idea for helping local families build better futures. Jobs, tax revenue for the Martin City Community Improvement District, products recycled back into the economy rather than dumped in landfills, and maybe even a tax deduction if you donate items of your own to the store. Put Doris Graves’ shopping tips to work today and make a difference for yourself, your budget, and the community we share.