The opening of a Habitat for Humanity “ReStore” in March in Caro figures to rebuild Habitat’s strength in Tuscola County — and pay for construction of homes for families in need.
“We’re back, and we hope to get the buzz going,” said Peter Neumeyer, who is working to open the ReStore in Caro in a building previously housing radio stations WIDL-FM (92.1) and WKYO-AM (1360) at 1521 W. Caro Road (M-81).
“People in Tuscola County are excited about it — that’s the neat part,” said Neumeyer, manager of an existing ReStore along M-24 just north of Lapeer — operated by Habitat for Humanity of Lapeer-Tuscola. Workers at the store sell new and used appliances, furniture, doors, windows, tools and many other items to raise funds to build Habitat homes in Lapeer County.
Tuscola County residents are “excited about the Caro store and excited that Habitat’s coming back and excited that we get to build a house eventually — it’s not going to be tomorrow,” said Neumeyer, giving a reporter a tour of the ReStore at 1633 N. Lapeer Road.
“Part of this is you have to operate as a business,” Neumeyer said. “I can’t spend $100,000 on a house that is money I don’t have. So we have to raise that $100,000 to go build a house because we actually pay for that house.”
The ReStore near Lapeer operates inside a 12,000-square-foot building that once was a Carter Lumber location.
“This idea, this concept, is what we’re going to do in Caro on a smaller scale,” Neumeyer said.
Habitat for Humanity bills itself as a nonprofit, ecumenical, Christian housing organization partnering with people to build decent, affordable homes.
In recent weeks, Habitat for Humanity of Lapeer-Tuscola came to exist after the Lapeer County chapter absorbed the assets of Cass River Habitat for Humanity, which built homes in Tuscola County including several in Vassar, but hasn’t built a home in a number of years.
The ReStore near Lapeer raised about $100,000 in 2016 to pay for construction of Habitat homes in Lapeer County. Money raised at the Caro ReStore, and via Tuscola County fundraisers, will finance home-construction or home-renovation projects in Tuscola County.
“Even though the store is in Caro, we’re servicing all of Tuscola County,” Neumeyer said.
During the past seven years, volunteers have combined to build homes including two in the village of Clifford in northern Lapeer County, and one in the village of North Branch.
Operation of the ReStore near Lapeer and, after the Caro ReStore opens sometime in March, serves a dual purpose.
“One mission is raising funds, but a secondary mission is we’re able to help support part of the community who can’t afford a brand new refrigerator, and they’re coming in with their paycheck to buy this, and they don’t have a refrigerator,” Neumeyer said.
“You can save a lot of money — we’re all kind of hurtin’,’” said Larry Sabin, 63, of Tuscola County’s Koylton Township, a state Department of Corrections retiree visiting the Lapeer County ReStore on Thursday.
“They sell building materials here, so if you’re adding on or trying to maintain something, they’ll sell items for it,” Sabin said. “They even have stoves and refrigerators that they get. They go quick here.
“My stove went out last year and I bought a Kenmore stove here for $90 or $100, and it works great. It has a glass top on it, and it was newer than mine, too.”
The ReStore planned in Caro also provides jobs, as Habitat for Humanity of Lapeer-Tuscola seeks to hire a store manager there, along with two part-time workers, Neumeyer said. The Lapeer store employs six paid workers and a number of volunteers.
Habitat hopes to find a business to rent part of the Caro building as office space, he said.
“It could be an office for a nonprofit, or a real estate company or insurance company,” Neumeyer said.
The Caro ReStore could draw business of its own, if the Lapeer County store is any indication.
Renay Bodette, 50, of Lapeer County’s Mayfield Township, said she visits the Lapeer-area ReStore “all the time.” On Thursday, Bodette arrived with her daughter, Logan Mickalich, 19, who lives with Bodette.
“She wants a sitting room upstairs where she has a bedroom, and upstairs is totally hers, so we were looking at furniture,” Bodette said.
Karen Faught, 73, an employee at the Lapeer-area ReStore, said the business attracts young families and contractors remodeling homes.
“People who own rental properties love this place because if they own properties and people move out, lots of times (renters) mess ’em up really bad,” Faught said.
“One of the most expensive homes in Lapeer County bought their sconce lights here to shine on their hand-painted pictures,” Neumeyer said. “Those paintings, I’m sure, cost five digits. They weren’t $50 paintings. They cost thousands.”
Lisa McCaffrey, 61, of Lapeer County’s Imlay Township, owns several rental homes.
“I do come in here and buy things all the time, sometimes for the other houses, the older homes, because the doors are smaller,” McCaffrey said.
McCaffrey said she also purchased a Viking range and a pizza oven at the ReStore for a total of $3,500, which she said was “half off” the ReStore price.
“Everybody was, like, ‘There’s no way you bought this range at Habitat for Humanity,’ and I said ‘Oh yes, I did,’” McCaffrey said. “I also bought a $6,386 chandelier for $100.”
Those wishing to volunteer at either location of Habitat for Humanity of Lapeer-Tuscola, to serve on its board of directors, or to donate toward new housing projects in either county, may call 810-660-7823.
Tom Gilchrist is a reporter for The Advertiser and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org