The ReUse People reduces the solid waste stream and changes the way the built environment is renewed by salvaging building materials and distributing them for reuse.
Build it and they will come
"Build it and they will come." For the past 20 years, that has been my reply when asked if a retail warehouse for used building materials has any chance of succeeding in the inquirer's geographical area.
I am even more convinced of this today than I was a month ago, my certainty reinforced by a meeting at the State University of New York (SUNY) in Cobleskill, followed by a tour of the ReUse Center, a retail store operated by Finger Lakes ReUse (FLR) in Ithaca.
Since 2008, the ReUse Center has survived and grown in a town whose population is only 65,000, almost half of those college students—103,000 if you include all of Tompkins County—and located in a beautiful, but relatively isolated, area of upstate New York.
FLR Executive Director Diane Cohen, an energized, committed and dynamic leader, has demonstrated that a good idea, coupled with hard work, persistence and dedicated employees can accomplish plenty, with little.
There are differences between FLR's ReUse Center and what I consider "traditional" building-materials reuse stores. Like TRP, most reuse organizations are located in large metropolitan areas, carry exclusively used building materials, and enjoy the luxury of having both substantial supply sources and large customer bases.
For those intrepid entrepreneurs who create reuse facilities in small towns and villages, the challenges can be considerably more daunting. Though salvaging and selling used building materials is their goal and their passion, reality tends to work in opposition. What should such leaders do?
For the ReUse Center the answer has been diversification. While used building materials remains FLR's major focus—to the extent that a new store, opening later this year, features an exterior lumber yard—to thrive and grow they also:
- Accept furniture, housewares, sporting goods, computers and peripherals
- Repair, refurbish and test computers and printers
- Provide job training in technology and building deconstruction
- Encourage local residents to repair broken household items using the center's workshop space and tools, under trained supervision
In its first five years in business, the ReUse Center's revenue from materials sales and services grew from eight percent of total revenue to 67 percent. The balance was from grants and cash donations. That’s rapid growth by any standard.
So, I'm sticking with my mantra—build it and they will come—with this caveat: To achieve anything approaching what Cohen and her colleagues have accomplished requires careful planning, a realistic understanding of the local community and, above all, persistence. There's a ready market for used building materials in almost any location you can name, but it takes a ton of work and dedication to tap it.
2015 National Reuse Contest
The 2015 National Reuse Contest is underway. If you are thinking about entering a project, please contact your local reuse store or warehouse and encourage them to participate.
Store managers, or anyone desiring more information on the 2015 contest, should contact:
National Reuse Contest
TRP is seeking a versatile individual for the position of Crew Chief. Primary responsibilities include managing 5 and 10 person crews on deconstruction projects, maintaining jobsite safety and assisting the TRP deconstruction manager with estimating and bidding. The candidate must be bilingual (English/Spanish), adept in the use of Microsoft Office, knowledgeable concerning residential construction, and skilled in oral/written communication. Compensation is a combination of base salary plus incentive. TRP offers health care, the usual holidays and vacations, flexible spending accounts, a 401(k) program, and an outstanding work environment.
Specials of the Month
At the Oakland warehouse we are featuring lumber and electrical. Receive 25% off the price of any lumber or electrical purhase in the warehouse through July 31.
The Los Angeles warehouse is featuring windows and interior doors. Receive 25% off the price of any window and 50% off the price of any interior door in the L.A. warehouse through July 31.
The San Bernardino warehouse is featuring cabinets and doors. Receive a 25% discount on any cabinet or door (interior or exterior) in the San Bernardino warehouse through July 31.
The Oakland warehouse has new shipments of popular C-shape clay roofing tile.
Location and Contact Information
TRP ReUse Warehouse - Oakland
9235 San Leandro Street
Oakland, CA 94603
(510) 383-1983; toll-free 888-588-9490
Hours: Mon-Sat 9:00-6:00 Closed Sunday
TRP ReUse Warehouse - Los Angeles
3015 Dolores Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90065
Hours: Mon-Fri 10:00-5:00; Sat 10:00-4:00
TRP-HACSB ReUse Warehouse - San Bernardino
660 East Orange Street
San Bernardino, CA 92410
Hours: Tue-Sat 9:00-6:00 Closed Monday and Sunday
Please visit our partnering warehouses:
Habitat for Humanity ReStores, Orange County (two convenient locations)
The Home Improvement Store That Builds Homes
1656 West Katella Avenue, Anaheim, CA 92802
(Euclid and Katella Avenue)
Mon-Fri 9:00 am- 8:00 pm;
Sat 9:00 am- 6:00pm;
Sun 11:00 am- 5:00 pm
The Home Improvement Store That Builds Homes
1400 Village Way, Santa Ana, CA 92705
(McFadden Place Shopping Center, exit 55 Freeway at McFadden)
Mon- Sat 9:00 am- 6:00 pm;
Sun 10:00 am- 5:00 pm
Habitat for Humanity ReStore, Kansas City
4701 Deramus, Kansas City MO 64120
Hours: Mon-Fri 10:00-6:00; Sat 9:00-4:00; closed Sunday
The ReUse Warehouse
1400 East Geer Street
Durham, NC 27704
Hours: Mon-Fri, 2:00-6:00; Sat, 9:30-5:00
Second Chance Building Materials Center
1423 West Grove Street
Boise, ID 83702
Hours: Mon-Sat, 9:00-6:00; Sun, 12:00-5:00
Roaring Fork Valley Habitat for Humanity
7025 Hwy 82
Glenwood Springs, CO 81601
Hours: Mon-Fri, 10:00-5:30; Sat, 10:00-5:00; Sun, 11:00-4:00
Stardust Building Supply
3901 E. Thunderbird Road
Phoenix, AZ 85032
Hours: Mon-Sat, 8:00-6:00; Sun, 10:00-4:00
Habitat for Humanity ReStore, Salt Lake Valley,
1276 South 500 West
Salt Lake City, UT 84101
Hours: Mon-Sat 9:00am-6:00pm; closed Sunday
Habitat for Humanity ReStore, Summit & Wasatch Counties
6280 N. Silver Creek Drive, Silver Summit, UT
Hours: Wed-Sat 10:00-6:00; closed Sunday
1951 Woodbine Way Park City, UT 84060
Hours: Mon-Sat 8:00-5:30; Sun 10:00-4:00
50 West Madison
Maywood, IL 60153
Hours: Wed-Mon 10:00-6:00p; Closed Tuesdays