Published 12:00 am Wednesday, June 13, 2007

By Joanie Morris
Kannapolis Citizen
When the Habitat for Humanity Home Store burned in April, it left a huge void.
Before the embers were even cold, Habitat for Humanity officials were talking about what they wanted to do to fill that void.
The fire was investigated as an arson and Kannapolis Police later arrested a suspect.
For Michael McArchur, who had joined the crew at the Home Store on Cannon Boulevard just a few months before as manager, “it was very disheartening.
“We pulled up to the fire and we saw the building coming down,” McArchur said.
The store serves as a driving force for Habitat for Humanity, pledging to raise funds for the building of three new Habitat homes this year. Watching that goal go up in smoke is not what McArchur wanted to see.
“You work hard to build the store for the community and in turn build houses for Cabarrus County and then that happened,” McArchur said.
A Catawba College graduate and permanent resident of Cabarrus County, McArchur had worked previously for United Way of Cabarrus County. He’s seen firsthand the good that can come from Habitat for Humanity.
“I would do speaking events in companies (about United Way) during fundraising time,” McArchur said. When he did events for Habitat for Humanity, he always liked learning more about what the group does.
“I started getting interested in the programs and when I had the opportunity to work for them, I jumped on it,” he added. “It’s a great organization.”
After the fire, “we just put our heads forward and said, ‘We’re going to open up again,’ ” said McArchur.
When Habitat officials decided they were going to reopen as soon as possible, “we made a list of things we wanted.
“We wanted, obviously, a good location,” McArchur said. They got that in the new location behind O’Charley’s restaurant and across from Carolina Mall.
“We needed size,” McArchur said. They also got that.
The newest store ó which is open to the public for donations and purchases ó is much larger than the old store.
The total square footage of the old store on Cannon Boulevard was 11,000, with 7,000 square feet of retail space. At the new location, the square footage is closer to 15,000, with 13,000 square feet of retail space.
Insurance covered some of the damage caused by the fire, but McArchur said it took a while to build back what was lost ó thousands of dollars of donated furniture and other Home Store retail items.
“We needed resources in the new store, too,” McArchur said. When they found the building ó a former mill that needed a little, but not a lot, of upfitting, it was the perfect fit.
“This place just seemed to have all those things,” McArchur said. “The owner of this building called us and said, ‘I think I may have a building to suit you. I want to be part of Habitat. Let’s see what we can do.’ ”
The new Habitat for Humanity ReStore hosted a ribbon cutting on Oct. 27 and Oct. 28 was opening day for the store.
In the meantime, McArchur said they continued to accept donations and Jock Liles Construction on McGill Avenue donated warehouse space for them to keep the items in until the new location could be finished.
“We were able to open the store with a full line of products,” McArchur said.
One of the things that McArchur said not many people realize is that the ReStore is a public store. Anyone can shop or donate, not just recipients of Habitat for Humanity homes.
“A lot of people are under that misconception that only Habitat for Humanity homeowners can shop here,” he said.
Profits from the store go back to Habitat for Humanity. There are only four employees and everyone else in the store is a volunteer. There are also Habitat for Humanity homeowners who work in the store as their “sweat equity” to obtain one of the homes.
“We are trying to increase our volunteers here,” McArchur said. “So we don’t need to hire out. The money needs to go to building more homes.”
Habitat for Humanity ReStore takes new and gently used building materials, furniture, appliances and housewares as donations. Appliances must be electric ónot gas óand they are tested before being put on the floor at the store. McArchur backs that up with a seven-day warranty.
“We want customers to be happy,” McArchur explained. “We try to keep a little bit of a higher standard …
“We try to have pride in our store,” he said, showing off the clean and clutter-free store.
Since opening the new store, things have run smoothly, he added.
“We just opened a couple weeks ago and we had a very successful opening,” McArchur said. “Part of that is due to Walker Marketing. They were able to spread the word for us and get the community talking.”
Customer Kimberly Lancaster and her son, Ryan Kiernan, were in the store recently looking for additional furniture for the single mom’s new home.
“I was here the day they opened,” Lancaster said. “I bought all my furniture here.”
Lancaster said she wouldn’t have known what to do if the store hadn’t been here.
Ken Freeman, another customer, said the ReStore is great for him. As the owner of several rental properties in the area, “this place has been a lifesaver for me,” he said while measuring doors at the ReStore. He can get the doors cheaper than at home improvement centers and put them on his rentals to cut back on costs. The doors are often new, he added.
The store is opened Mondays through Fridays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Contact Joanie Morris at 704-932-3336 or jmorris@kannapoliscitizen.com.

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