Making Changes: Starkville Habitat Revamps ReStore

By William Moore // Photos by Lauren Wood

Residents in Starkville and Oktibbeha County will see plenty of changes in their chapter of Habitat for Humanity this spring. The non-profit will move its ReStore from the outskirts of the city to a highly visible location in downtown Starkville. And since the donated building has enough room, the organization will be able to move its offices into the South Jackson Street location as well.

A Habitat ReStore accepts donations of used or salvaged construction materials – cabinets, countertops, sinks, vanities, doors, windows, plumbing and electrical supplies – along with appliances, furniture and household furnishings. Those items are then offered for resale, with the money going to the Habitat chapter.

The Starkville store is the only Habitat ReStore in Northeast Mississippi. The next closest ReStores are in Memphis, Tennessee; Florence, Alabama; and Tuscaloosa, Alabama.

“We hope to open in April,” said chapter executive director Joel Downey. “It will give us better exposure and we should get a lot more walk-up traffic.”

Downey feels the new location, along with expanded hours and new services, will help the ReStore generate even more revenue. For around two decades, the store has been housed in a nondescript metal building on Rock Hill Road just north of the US 82 bypass. And it was open only a few hours the first Saturday of the month. Instead of being able to properly display things, it was handled more like a garage sale.

“Even with the location and hours, we still had people showing up and buying things every time we opened the doors,” Downey said. “We figure every three years, the store made enough to fund a house, which runs about $90,000 for us.”

“We had plenty of people show up, but because of the location and the hours, we didn’t get any (Mississippi State University) students.”

Top: The current Habitat ReStore building is located just outside of downtown Starkville. Bottom: A new building will put the ReStore downtown. The new location, which is currently under construction, will be larger and designed to be more customer-friendly.

Moving to the corner of South Jackson and East Lampkin streets should remedy most of the ReStore problems. The building will offer about 5,000 square feet of retail space, where items can be grouped and properly displayed. The downtown location is close enough to campus to make it accessible to students. And plans call for the ReStore to be open regular hours throughout the week.

“We’ll have a bigger presence and should get more donations,” Downey said. “We are working with the housing department at State so we can go on campus and pick up items to be donated.”

Instead of hauling items back to their hometown, students leaving at the end of a semester could donate furniture and furnishings tailored for dorm or apartment life. The ReStore would then have a ready inventory of gently used items when students returned to campus.

The new downtown location for Habitat is owned by the Starkville First Baptist Church and is being offered to the non-profit at no cost.

“One of our volunteers was a member of the church,” Downey said. “They took the idea to the property committee. The church was using it for storage. They agreed to lease it to us for two years at no cost.”

The new Habitat ReStore will be located at 206 South Jackson St.


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