Change of Habitat

by Craig Howard, News Editor

Spokane Valley Herald / Spokane Valley Online

In the true spirit of industriousness, the Habitat for Humanity retail store is moving to a new site in the Spokane Business & Industrial Park.

The 32,000-square-foot venue at 3808 N. Sullivan Road in Spokane Valley will represent the merging of Habitat’s store at Trent Avenue near the Gonzaga University campus and a Spokane Valley location at Sprague and Bowdish that opened in December 2008. The upgraded facility – which will still feature the same variety of building surplus materials, household items, antiques and knickknacks – is scheduled to open April 1.

“This is a clean, bright building and it’s new,” said Gary Ragsdale, Habitat store manager. “we’re getting feedback from people who say they wouldn’t go downtown (to the Trent site) and they’re ecstatic that we’re going to be in the Valley.”

Ragsdale and his crew began renovating the building in early February. He said the site has more of a spacious design than the Trent store, main home of Habitat retail operations for the past 10 years. “It doesn’t have those nooks and crannies that aren’t great for retail.” Ragsdale said.

As for concerns over visibility in a business park, Habitat has invested in an area-wide marketing campaign that includes print, radio and television ads. The store itself is only a quick turn off Sullivan, about five to 10 minutes to the north of Interstate 90 and the Spokane Valley Mall.

“Location is always a concern for any kind of retail,” Ragsdale said. “But I think we have the best location in the Industrial Park.”

Proceeds from the store go to Habitat for Humanity programs that provide affordable housing for low-income residents. Last year, the Trent and Spokane Valley sites generated some $300,000 for the cause. According to Michone Preston, executive director of Habitat-Spokane, the retail venture accounts for around 10 percent of the agency’s yearly revenue. Grants and donations from local businesses, individuals and the faith community comprise the bulk of the organization’s budget. Last year, Habitat-Spokane ranked 11th among Habitat affiliates throughout the world in overall money raised. In addition to its local efforts, the agency donated $100,000 to support relief efforts in Haiti after the disaster there.

Preston said the new site will rely on word-of-mouth as well as local advertising to maintain and increase its customer base. She added that the store will also benefit from being “more of a destination for people.”

“I think we’ve raised a lot of awareness,” Preston said. “I’m hoping people will continue to find it.”

The local branch of Habitat has helped to build over 200 homes for low-income families and individuals in the Greater Spokane area since 1987. The nonprofit, Christian-based organization was established in 1976 with a mission of eliminating poverty housing and homelessness and, since then, has provided over 1.5 million people throughout the world with quality, affordable homes.

Preston said Habitat is still considering another site in the north Spokane area at some point down the road. A ribbon cutting event for the Industrial Park location will be coordinated by the Greater Spokane Valley Chamber of Commerce sometime in May.

The upgraded Valley store will include a waiting area with free coffee and snacks for shoppers who need a break. A small library featuring new and used books will also be part of the terrain.

With an inventory that includes everything from tile to window frames and everything in between, Ragsdale said shoppers would be advised to stop by the surplus store “before heading to a big box store.”

“If you have a project, make a list and visit us first,” he said.

The old Valley site and the Trent store closed on March 1. Preston said fliers announcing the move were handed out to customers beforehand. The Trent location will be reopened March 21-26 for a liquidation sale with a variety of items at 75 percent off the original prices. The event will run from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. each day. For more information call Habitat-Spokane at 534-2552.