If the Greeley-Weld Habitat for Humanity had to choose a mantra for 2022, it should be: “With the old, with the new.”
The nonprofit’s Restore is making a big new effort, both literally and figuratively.
The organization announced that it has landed a lease to take over the old JCPenney building at 2080 Greeley Mall. The Greeley location was one of more than 154 stores, including one in Fort Collins, that were closed in the summer of 2020. Since its closure, the building has sat vacant.
“One of our former board members is a retired commercial broker, so we set him on the hunt about two years ago,” said Cheri Witt-Brown, executive director of the Greeley-Weld Habitat for Humanity. “We’ve been seeing that clearly since I became Habitat’s executive director in 2016.”
Habitat tried to buy the building where it is currently located at 2400 29th St., and at one point, Witt-Brown and the organization worked out a contract. But when the pandemic struck, everything stopped, and the offer was taken off the table.
“The owner of that building decided they didn’t want to sell parts of the building, they wanted to sell the whole thing,” Witt-Brown said. “We were getting so worried because we knew the building would eventually sell out, which it did.”
After looking for another location in the mall, the management company offered the organization the old JCPenney location, which Witt-Brown and Restore director Lew Sevestre jumped on.
The new space will give the store 10,000 square feet of space to display items, collect donations, and house inventory.
The department store gave up all of their merchandise shelving and racks, which would be used to help set up the new store, with unnecessary pieces sold or recycled, Sevestre said.
Customers will also have more check stands for purchasing items with updated computer registers that can log inventory and make donations immediately after items are dropped off and checked in.
“As soon as an item is sold, it will come off our inventory,” Sevestre said.
Although the organization isn’t doing major remodeling for the space, they have removed some walls and are removing old carpet and tile to open up the area. The flooring will be replaced with polished cement, which will allow for durability and ease of care. Sevestre said they have also installed a new LED lighting system.
The organization received $19,000 from a local lighting company for LED lighting. For the flooring, a local flooring contractor contributed more than $7,000. The two helped the nonprofit complete the upgrade without dipping into their savings.
“Again, it’s the kind of generous community partners that really help us make all this possible,” Witt-Brown said.
The old hair salon will be converted into administrative offices and a play area for the children of parents receiving support services.
Moving to the mall will allow the organization to consolidate all its employees at the new location, which is the first time in 34 years that all have been brought under one roof.
Leanna’s Closet, a separate nonprofit sharing a space in the restore, will also step in. The nonprofit provides professional clothing for women who are working or applying for work.
Witt-Brown said the added location and flagship location will continue to help the organization grow its revenue, which has grown significantly over the past six years. Revenue helps to cover administrative overhead costs and reinvest profits in the organization.
“We hired Lew 4 1/2 years ago, and he turned our store over,” Witt-Brown said. “We went from maybe $400,000, maybe $500,000 in sales to about $1 million in sales in a good year.
“He was second in the country for overall sales growth in 2018, which is very high as there are 1,300 affiliates across the country.”
The new venue is expected to host the soft opening by the end of February, with the grand opening set for Saturday, March 5. Until then, customers can continue to shop or leave a donation at the store’s current location.
For more information about the Greeley-Weld Habitat for Humanity organization or Restore, visit www.greeleyhabitat.org.