Whirlpool Corporation donation helps ReStore sales soar
Customer excitement ramps up whenever appliances come into Habitat for Humanity ReStore outlets. These items normally represent a 50 to 70 percent savings for the buyer over some retail prices. Not surprisingly, traffic in Habitat ReStore outlets broke records when the Whirlpool Corporation donated thousands of new refrigerators, ranges and washer/dryers last year.
In 2009, Whirlpool Corporation increased its support of Habitat ReStore outlets with $1 million in planned product donations. In just 18 months, the company surpassed this commitment by donating more than $10 million in appliances. More than 60 Habitat ReStore outlets in 23 states have benefitted from the company’s donations―generating hundreds of thousands of dollars for Habitat’s mission.
“The products went like hotcakes,” said Karin Roberts, executive director of Habitat for Humanity Riverside in California. “When the word was out (that we had items from Whirlpool Corporation’s product portfolio), they sold very, very fast; and we were very happy. It was a wonderful image- and sales-booster for us. The impact of their donation was the biggest we’ve had,” she said.
Tammy Marine, executive director of Habitat for Humanity Inland Valley, California, agreed that the donation from Whirlpool Corporation made a huge difference to their Habitat affiliate. Of her two Habitat ReStore outlets, she said, “Gross income was $690,000, and roughly half of that was thanks to Whirlpool Corporation.”
Programming with Habitat ReStore outlets
In addition to being a revenue stream, ReStore outlets are an important program for her affiliate, Marine said. “By design, some of the activities and merchandising at the ReStore is really geared to helping families improve their living conditions at a fraction of a cost. But we also appeal to subcontractors, property managers, first-time homeowners, speculators purchasing and rehabbing homes, and other nonprofit agencies that benefit from the discount program,” she added.
When the Whirlpool Corporation donations arrived, Inland Valley Habitat made a point to market them to consumers. “It has made all the difference, night and day, with the opening of our store at the worst economic time in recent history. Our fundraising had decreased due to the economy, while the need had risen dramatically. Without Whirlpool Corporation, it would have been hard to sustain the building level we had achieved; but now we’re doing more than ever,” she said.
“This kind of donation helps us have an impact on the lives of hundreds more families than we would have been able to do. In 2008, we built five homes; in 2009 we’re finishing them up and we’re working on 10 in 2010 along with land development for additional homes. We’ve expanded Habitat’s A Brush With Kindness program (to maintain the exterior of homes),” Marine said.
In addition, Marine said that affiliate-run ReStore outlets are bolstered by Habitat for Humanity International, the central service organization for Habitat for Humanity affiliated organizations. “They are responsible for developing the partnership relationship with Whirlpool Corporation and passing it down to us. We wouldn’t have been able to do that on our own, so we are very grateful for it,” Marine said.
Reduce, Reuse... ReStore
While new appliances tend to be the biggest attraction, ReStore outlets also sell home accessories, building materials, window treatments, wall coverings, paintings and more. Shoppers search online for locations of Habitat for Humanity ReStore outlets in their community.
“One of the important things the ReStores provide is reuse of material that would normally go into a landfill. We provide an environmentally responsible alternative,” said Drew Meyer, director of Habitat ReStore outlets for HFHI. “You’d be surprised at the unusual items people find in ReStores, such as antique books and antique furniture,” he added.
Harry Pape, executive director of the Delaware County Habitat for Humanity, Ohio, said that the affiliate’s ReStore outlet “funds 100 percent of our operations. There is additional cash left over to do other things. We’ve done an excellent job of reaching out to the community, letting them know that rather than throwing things away, you can bring your items here. We estimate that we’ve kept over 1 million pounds of products from going to the landfill.”
When the washers and dryers from Whirlpool Corporation came in last year, Pape said the Habitat affiliate notified more than 2,000 people by e-mail. “The donation really gave us a shot in the arm, and we started seeing new people coming in all the time. They could take a look and comparison shop, and it was a lot easier to buy it from here.
“They bought washers and maybe also found doors for the house, lawn furniture, snow blowers, and signed up for the list, which helped increase our customer base. When a donated refrigerator worth $1,800 sells for $750, that’s a great sale for us.”
The donation has the effect of increasing Habitat housing, Pape said. “When we expand ReStore sales, this allows us to build more homes and advocate for affordable housing in this community.”
“This year marks a complete decade of Whirlpool Corporation’s partnership with Habitat for Humanity. In these 10 years, the organization has become an integral part of our history and business development,” said Jeff Noel, vice president, Communications & Public Affairs, Whirlpool Corporation.
“We’ve committed to developing meaningful and creative programs with Habitat for Humanity, such as participating in the Carter Work Project and launching the Whirlpool® Building Blocks community builds. While we support Habitat through donations, cash and volunteerism, our ReStore commitment demonstrates that involvement with the organization can be mutually beneficial. We encourage anyone―from consumers to corporations―to think of creative ways to get involved to support Habitat in its mission to eliminate substandard housing globally.”
Habitat for Humanity opened its first Habitat ReStore outlet in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, in 1991. The first U.S. ReStore outlet opened a year later in Austin, Texas, in 1992. Now Habitat has 700 ReStores in 48 U.S. states and 60 in Canada. The ReStore outlets program has become an exceptional tool for increasing awareness of Habitat’s mission and generating funding for Habitat’s local operations.
Drew Meyer and his counterpart Frank Reed, the Habitat ReStore outlets senior director based in Charlotte, N.C., anticipate a growth in Habitat ReStore outlets around the country. Meyer noted that partnerships with companies like Whirlpool are essential to achieving this goal.
“Habitat ReStores are the face of Habitat in each community,” Meyer said. “Whirlpool Corporation helps us advance the mission through support for the ReStores and home building with Habitat. The company is one of our most generous donors, and shares our vision and our passion for the ministry. We couldn’t achieve nearly as much without them.”