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Dubuque store benefits Habitat for Humanity and reduces waste

DUBUQUE, Iowa (AP) — The new Habitat for Humanity store that will benefit area housing projects is now filled to the brim with donated building materials and assorted furniture.

The store was celebrated last week with a three-day pre-opening sale from Dubuque and Jackson Counties Habitat for Humanity’s ReStore at 4949 Chavenelle Road. The sale gave attendees a preview of the new location, which is located in the same building as the First Supply business.

The ReStore will sell donated building materials, furniture, and other building materials. While sales will help support the store’s operating costs, the company will also raise money for Habitat for Humanity’s home building projects for families in need.

“There’s an environmental aspect to it,” said Erica Haugen, the nonprofit’s executive director. “There are tons and tons of waste that we will be able to divert from the landfill. Volunteers will be able to take many items and put them into the hands of people who can use them.

Rachel Daack, chair of the ReStore committee, told the Dubuque Telegraph Herald that an exact opening date cannot be determined until a store manager is hired.

“That’s probably our sticking point now,” she said. “It’s a lot of work, but it will be exciting.”

Daack said she and other committee members have been working on opening a Dubuque ReStore since 2019.

“It struck me that we had the market for this,” she said. “I know people want to donate and they want to be thrifty. We are the right community as donors and as buyers.

Haugen added that the pre-opening sale was also driven by a need for more inventory space at the 8,200 square foot facility. A large donation was made to the store last year by the Sisters of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary at Mount Carmel Bluffs in Dubuque, and she said additional space was needed for more donations.

Haugen said the ReStore will be open one day a week to begin with. Then she hopes to work until the ReStore is open three days a week for shopping and two days a week for donations.

“We’ll do a soft opening as we work on it,” she said. “It’s going to be heavily dependent on the community volunteers who helped bring this store to Dubuque.”

Bev Wagner, who is also the education and communications coordinator for the Dubuque Metro Area Solid Waste Agency, volunteered her time at the ReStore on Thursday.

“I’ve known ReStores for several years and always thought we needed it,” she said of the Dubuque location. “I’m happy to see it open.”

Since Habitat for Humanity arrived in Dubuque 31 years ago, Haugen said at least 31 families have benefited from home construction and repair projects. These projects provide housing opportunities at prices below $200,000 and go to families who might not be able to enter the housing market otherwise, she said.

“We hope the store will diversify our income and resources first so that we can continue to serve at least one family a year,” she said. “We would like to have two families a year fairly quickly here.”

Daack said the store will also help promote Habitat for Humanity and provide additional training on its housing program.

“Right now, people don’t know there’s a Habitat for Humanity in Dubuque, partly because there isn’t a big storefront,” she said.

She added that the location, near Lowe’s and Menards in Dubuque, is a perfect place for people to stop by to drop off and pick up items while thinking about their next home improvement project.

“It gives us both donor convenience and purchasing alternatives,” she said.