Tyler’s Habitat Restore sees increase in inventory, shoppers amid COVID-19 pandemic

Habitat Restore

TYLER, Texas (KLTV) - The sales floor at the Habitat for Humanity Restore in Tyler has a larger than usual inventory these days.

Carl Watson, the director of operations for Habitat for Humanity of Smith County, tell KLTV the increased inventory is due in part to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Not only has the pandemic led to more items to sell, Watson said he’s seeing more homeowners needing items for do-it-yourself projects around their homes.

“We’ve also seen an increase in some of our donations from businesses, and some of that is tied to the pandemic because there’s businesses that have slowed down,” he said. “Unfortunately, there are some that have gone out of business, and as a results of that, we’re able to secure some of their merchandise.”

The Restore is also seeing an uptick in first-time shoppers and more people visiting its Facebook page, according to Watson.

“We’re trying to get the message out. If you’re looking to do any kind of renovation work or anything at your home, we’re the people you need to come see,” he said. “All the revenues that are generated out of this Restore roll right back into the monies that we use to build new homes and do critical repairs for seniors and veterans and disabled folks.”

Habitat for Humanity of Smith County is working on three new homes and more than 100 critical repairs, according to its website.

The Restore sells a variety of home construction items, including flooring, kitchen cabinets, bathroom vanities and lighting fixtures. The Restore also sales furniture.

“As everything started opening back up our traffic really picked up a lot. There was a lot of folks who were working from home. Unfortunately, a lot of people lost their jobs,” Watson said. “But they still have needs for their home — repairs and things of that nature that have to be done.”

Shopper Jose Guzman was in the store Thursday looking for items for his new home.

“There’s a lot of stuff here that we like,” Guzman said. “It’s a project within a project. So, there’s a lot of stuff that you can come find cheaper here than you can at a new hardware store, or any store actually. You might find something unique, something different that you can’t find at a store.”

Watson tells us he also is seeing more people looking for desks, computers keyboards and monitors as the pandemic continues to hold a question mark over the 2020-21 school year.

And the Restore has a lot of those items from the demolition of the old Robert E. Lee High School, as well as the closure of the East Texas Christian Academy.

“Anything you can think of that might have been in a school. We have some white boards, some bulletin boards. Lots of things that might be used in a homeschool environment,” he Watson said.

The Restore also has a deconstruction team to help if a homeowner is getting ready to renovate.

“We’ll actually come out and salvage cabinets and plumbing fixtures, countertops and other things that might be involved in that, bring them back in here and then resale them instead of them going to the landfill,” Watson said.

The Restore is open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Saturday. Visitors are asked to wear a mask inside the store.

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