Artful idea opens Habitat’s newest ReStore on Oak Street

A wild collection of decorated chairs that range from comfy to creative, and touching every base in between, will be front and centre when Habitat for Humanity opens the doors to its second ReStore retail location today.

The chairs decorated in wild and wacky fashion by 30 Island artists are part of a fundraising project called Take a Seat for Habitat that hopes to raise money, through a silent auction, for the cause of building homes for lower-income working families.

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“I walked in and saw 30 identical plain wooden chairs and thought ‘instead of just selling them, why not create some excitement and interest and show people what they could do with a plain wooden chair,’ ” said Yolanda Meijer, executive director of Habitat Victoria.

So 30 artists were contacted, given a chair and had about six weeks to create something that will be auctioned off over the next week.

In order to bid on a chair, people have to come to the new ReStore at 3311 Oak St., but they can arrange to have ReStore staff bid on their behalf up to a certain level.

Meijer said she’s not sure how much they will raise with the program, but she stressed that the idea transcends raising money.

“We wanted artists to be more aware of the ReStore because we get such unusual objects in here, so this was to engage a different demographic,” she said. It’s also about inspiring existing customers to imagine what they could do.

Habitat has had its new location since early June and has renovated and amassed inventory for the shelves. Its ReStore outlets sell quality new and used home improvement items and building supplies from lighting, flooring and furniture to major appliances and antiques.

The 8,200-square-foot store will also help the organization tap into a massive market that it isn’t reaching.

Habitat Victoria first opened a ReStore on Douglas Street in 2004, but moved to Langford in 2009 when it purchased a 12,000-square-foot building.

Meijer noted that while the Langford location is likely to do $850,000 in sales this year, few customers moved to the West Shore with them, as a recent study showed more than 85 per cent of those who donated or bought from the Langford ReStore lived in the Western Communities.

“The other store is hitting its sweet spot and we realized we weren’t tapping into the households in a five-kilometre radius, so it made sense to establish a store here. This location will introduce us to the 100,000-plus people who have never seen it while reintroducing us to those who knew us from Douglas Street,” she said.

With a soft opening this week, the new ReStore has had several people walking through every day, which Meijer expects to increase significantly when they start to advertise and get their signage up along Blanshard Street.

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