It is the volunteers, staff and community partners of Pickens Couny’s Habitat for Humanity ReStore that have brought success in the organization’s first six months.
That is the idea that you get talking to the store’s manager Marty Yannarella.
He is one of those pieces of the puzzle that has allowed the retail sales outlet that helps fund the local Habitat for Humanity to outreach financial projections in its first six months of operation. The store takes donated items and sells them to help fund the operation of the agency that has aided 21 families own their first home .
Yannarella has a background in the military and later corporate management before he came to direct operations at ReStore, located on Hwy. 93 in Easley, a few doors west of Skate Around USA. He has always been a dabbler in antiques and restoration he says. That has provided side income, helping to put his children through college.
Bruce Solva had a background in construction in another state and had lived in Africa for several years before he returned to the United States with his wife, Lori. “Bruce is the MacGyver of this operation,” says Yannarella. “You ask him to do something and he will figure out a way to make it happen.”
Yannarella said the store needed a display to help sell lighting fixtures donated for resale. Within a few days, Solva had designed and built an arbor for hanging them on.
Solva started as a volunteer and now works part time, helping make things happen. Last Thursday he was fitting a sink to a display of bathroom fixtures inside the store. “It’s not much money, but I enjoy doing it. And you get to meet people and talk to them and help them figure out what they need,” Solva said smiling.
Vallie Mae Cobb is ambassador for the store, said Habitat for Humanities Director Jill Evans. “Vallie Mae knows everybody in Pickens County, and talks to them,” Evans said. That in itself helps bring people in and helps them find what they need.
Other volunteers include several local high school students and Clemson students. Several of the university’s sororities and fraternities provide volunteers doing their community service work. They clean donated items and help Solva test every appliance and lamp that comes through the door.
Donors have provided some unique and valuable things for resale, Evans said. The store currently has a display featuring an old bicycle, collector plates, stacks of kitchen and bathroom fixtures along with odds and ends of tables, chairs and other housewares and knick-knacks that have been arranged by staff to show off the potential. Presentation is critical to the potential for sales, Yannarella said.
One donor had worked for months selling collector plates from his mother’s estate on E-Bay when he brought in a batch of at least 30 for donation to the store. They now inhabit a section at the front of the store.
Builders supplies like Lowe’s and Dixie Lumber Company, regularly donate discontinued models of home fixtures.