Maybe you’re a homeowner with a broken toilet and a budget that’s been hit hard by the pandemic. Or possibly you’re a landlord who needs to replace a door after your most recent tenants moved out.
What you might not realize is that many home repair and improvement needs can be met at Greater Erie Area Habitat for Humanity’s ReStore.
Yes, Habitat is best known for constructing houses for families in need. And when the nonprofit receives donations of materials, they are first evaluated to see if they are a fit for a house that’s being built. But if they aren’t, they go to the ReStore, where they are offered for sale to the public two days a week. The proceeds are used to help build houses for Habitat families.
The store at 4922 Pittsburgh Ave., in Millcreek Township, is open Fridays, 9 a.m. to noon, and Saturdays, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., and features a variety of new and used materials that have been donated by contractors, homeowners and others.
“I go there Friday and Saturday every week,” Michael Vangeli, 59, of Erie, said.
On a recent Friday, he picked up a couple door handles for less than $4 and framed pictures of flowers for $12 and $5 to hang in his kitchen. In the past, he’s purchased ceramic tiles and trim for his home.
“There’s a lot of good things there, plus it helps out people that need it,” he said, referring to the money raised for Habitat.
“It helps out my pocket, too,” Vangeli said.
Here are some of the common repair and improvement needs you can possibly fill with a trip to the ReStore:
When the winds pick up around Erie, buildings can lose siding.
“We carry siding,” said Nancy Milkowski, executive director of Greater Erie Area Habitat for Humanity.
The ReStore sells it for $2 for a 12-foot strip that Milkowski said buyers can cut down to fit the size they need. Colors and style vary.
Exterior, interior, closet, bifold, screen and commercial — doors of many kinds stand ready and waiting in the ReStore. In the past, the store has even had French doors, double patio doors and sliding patio doors.
On a recent Friday, Milkowski pulled out a perwinkle-colored steel door priced at $69.95. She said a standard interior door could sell for as low as $10.95.
The ReStore typically has a variety of doorknobs and hinges, too.
The ReStore offers full windows, mostly vinyl replacement ones, in a variety of sizes. However, the supply, as with everything donated to the ReStore, can ebb and flow.
In mid-January, Milkowski said there were at least eight different sizes of windows. “But those could be gone tomorrow,” she said.
She can’t guarantee she’ll have what you need in stock, but why not look before paying more at another store? But be sure to go prepared with the measurements of whatever you’re trying to fill.
Also available are window screens in varying sizes. That’s good for parents of children or pets who like to poke holes in screens. Shoppers can pick up a normal size screen for $1.95 or a large one for $2.95, Milkowski said. That’s likely to be less than the cost of getting a screen window repaired elsewhere.
Milkowski hadn’t really considered stocking toilets before the ReStore opened in February 2007, but she said they’ve proved to be a good seller.
“We get them in a variety of colors,” she said. “We’ve sold every color you can imagine.”
You can take home a decent one for $29.95, Milkowski said.
And don’t worry. “Everything that comes in, we go through and do a cleaning job on it,” she said.
That same wind that blows off siding can take off a shingle or two. The ReStore can have you covered.
“We’ll sell a bundle of shingles for $10.95,” Milkowski said, although she noted that all ReStore prices are subject to change.
She said the shingles are often donated by someone who had a bigger roofing job to complete and found themselves with one or two bundles left over.
The store’s stock of shingles is pretty steady, she said. Rolls of tar paper are also available.
Ways to change a home’s look
Sometimes the small things can make a big difference.
“We have some beautiful lights,” Milkowski said. “Light fixtures can easily change what a room looks like.”
The ReStore also carries knobs and handles for those wanting to give cabinets or doors a new look.
There’s usually not enough wallpaper for someone wanting to do an entire large room, but you could find enough for a small area, Milkowski said.
And there’s art, like the flower prints that Vangeli purchased. Milkowski said the store once sold a piece by noted local artist James Sabol and also has had Campbell Pottery items donated.
You might also find tools there to help you get the work done. Milkowski said the ReStore sometimes receives donations of power and sand tools.
Milkowski jokingly refers to these as the “oddballs” or the unexpected items that don’t show up often and tend to disappear quickly.
“We have gumball machines,” she said on Jan. 14.
The dual dispensers mounted on a metal stand once doled out treats for a quarter. They are priced at $49.95.
“It’s a cool, unique item,” Milkowski said.
The ReStore has also had patio furniture donated in the spring and fall, when people are buying new or looking not to store theirs over the winter.
And the ReStore has even sold some jacuzzi tubs in the past.
What you won’t find
If you’re looking for living room furniture, you might want to pass on the ReStore, although you can sometimes find dining room or kitchen chairs and tables there.
“We take nothing upholstered, so you will not find a couch here,” Milkowski said.
It’s also a no-go if you’re seeking curtains, books or clothes.
Items in the store rarely come with their original instructions and staff will advise you to seek help from a professional if you don’t know how to install a purchase.
Contact Dana Massing at [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter @ETNmassing.