Habitat ReStore has an award-winning 2020.
The crazy pace of the construction business in 2020 affected numerous related businesses, from manufacturing to landscaping. One of those was Habitat for Humanity’s ReStore.
The Greater Des Moines Habitat for Humanity ReStore was number two in the country in 2020, and the Urbandale location was also named Business of the Year for the metro suburb.
“We’re only able to do what we do because of the support of the entire community,” says ReStore Director Dana Folkerts, who celebrated his 15th year with the organization in 2020. “The donations we receive, the customers who shop here, all the businesses who think of us instead of throwing things out—those are the things that make us successful.”
Folkerts joined the staff in 2005, shortly after the first Des Moines ReStore opened.
After receiving his bachelor’s degree in business, Folkerts had worked in Kentucky for a while before returning to Iowa. “I’d been working for an organization that led ministry work projects rebuilding and rehabbing houses,” he says. “When we decided we wanted to move back home, I looked into Habitat because of my previous experience.”
In his time with the organization, the original ReStore relocated to its current location on East Euclid, and a second store opened in Urbandale.
Jon Plummer, Urbandale ReStore Manager, followed a similar path. “I’d been living in Seattle while I was getting my Master’s in Theology,” he says. “We wanted to move back to Iowa, and I was looking for a way to put my theology to work on the ground.” Joining the team at Habitat for Humanity gave him the opportunity to combine his work experience and his beliefs about loving his neighbor into action.
During 2020 Folkerts and Plummer successfully led the ReStores through the unique challenges and hurdles to one of their best years ever. Folkerts says, “We had to close for April and May while we waited to see the best way to move forward. One of the things we put into place was an online store with curbside pickup.”
The rapid product turnover makes keeping the stores current a challenge. Folkerts says the response to the online option has been very positive. The organization is looking at ways to expand and fine-tune the service.
“The online store has been especially busy even now, when people can’t get out as much,” Plummer says. “But we see online shopping still being a popular option as things continue to open up just because it’s so convenient.”
Despite closing for two months, clearly the efforts to adapt to the changing situation were successful. The combined sales of Des Moines’ two ReStore locations were the second highest of any ReStore in the country. The only metropolitan area that achieved higher net return with its Habitat affiliates was Los Angeles.
“Everything we do is to support our Habitat affiliates in Polk, Dallas, and Jasper counties,” Folkerts says. “We’re proud of what we were able to do this past year, and we want to continue to grow our reach and expand what we offer to our customers even more.”
That positive attitude is part of what garnered ReStore the 2020 Urbandale Business of the Year award from the Urbandale Chamber of Commerce. According to the Chamber website, “Businesses are evaluated in three areas: how they have given back to the Urbandale community, the number of organizations or causes the organization supports, and how the business’s physical presence impacts the Urbandale community.”
The winner was announced during a virtual event last month. “Normally there’s a dinner and winners are announced that way,” Folkerts says. “But it was virtual this year, so we had all the employees here at the store watching the presentation together, and everyone cheered when they announced we’d won.”
For Folkerts and Plummer and the rest of the Habitat ReStore team, the national sales record and the Urbandale Business of the Year award are just more motivation to continue doing what they already do. “We want to fund even more Habitat homes this year,” Folkerts says. “Every donation we get, every item we sell helps a local family finally get a home of its own. We want to raise enough to fund 16 homes this year. That’s our goal.”
ReStore is doing more than funding building projects. The two stores are providing an opportunity for the greater Des Moines community to do what Folkerts and Plummer do every day—love their neighbor by building a better community for everyone.