Habitat for Humanity Vancouver
Island North (Habitat VIN) relies on their two ReStores to help raise money for their affordable
home building projects. Closing their stores due to Covid-19 meant the loss of their main source
of funding. Now, they are moving their social enterprise online with contactless pick-up in
Campbell River and Courtenay.

The Habitat ReStore is a social enterprise that sells new and gently-used household items
donated by both individuals and corporations. ReStore revenues cover Habitat’s operational
costs, allowing them to direct all donations to building homes.

While the major loss in revenue was detrimental to Habitat VIN’s plans to build three more
homes in Campbell River and two in Courtenay by the end of the year, they chose not to jump
into online sales before making a strong plan around health and safety.

“We didn’t want to re-open in any capacity until we could ensure the safety of our employees
and customers,” explained Pat McKenna, Habitat VIN’s executive director.

Habitat closed the doors to their ReStores on March 18th, and were forced to lay off all ReStore
staff shortly after. By moving to online sales, they are able to recoup revenues and begin hiring
back their employees.

Payment can be made online or over the phone with a credit card. A staff member will then call
to arrange a pick-up time. When picking orders up, customers are asked to stay in their vehicles
with windows up. After staff confirm the purchaser’s identity, merchandise is brought outside
and the customer can load it into their vehicle.

Returns and public donations are not being accepted at this time, due to the safety risk. Habitat
hopes to replenish their inventory through corporate donations, which they are still accepting.
Currently only paid staff are operating in the stores, but volunteers are helping in other ways,
such as sewing masks to keep the ReStore team safe.

Habitat plans to keep their online ReStore in some capacity after they are able to re-open their
physical stores. “We’re looking at this as an opportunity to innovate and try new things. We already have
success selling through Facebook, so we think our customers are open to supporting us in a
new way,” said McKenna.

This isn’t the first time Habitat VIN has had to make an adjustment in the way they operate as
they faced the limitations of the health crisis. Earlier this month, when two Habitat homeowners
moved into their new homes, the traditional community celebration was replaced with a ‘virtual
key ceremony.’

Learn more and shop the online Habitat ReStore by visiting habitatnorthisland.com/restore.

Cady Corman

Marketing and Communications, Habitat for Humanity Vancouver Island North