ELLSWORTH — The Hancock County Habitat for Humanity ReStore will close its doors in August after a decade in the city.
“Despite significant effort, it has proven a challenge to make the Ellsworth Habitat ReStore location successful,” said Executive Director Kelley Ellsworth in a press release.
“Not being immune to the challenges which other small businesses face in this economy, as we approached our 11th year, with expenses rising and in-demand [donated] inventory unpredictable,” said Ellsworth, “the affiliate’s board of directors reached a consensus to close the ReStore, relocate our business office and redirect our energies in new ways to accomplish our mission of helping our neighbors improve their living conditions.”
The store first opened on High Street in 2009 and moved to its current location on the Downeast Highway in 2012.
Other ReStore locations will stay open, according to the release, and efforts are underway in Belfast to build a store and office for the Waldo County Habitat affiliate.
Habitat for Humanity is an international organization that aims to provide affordable housing, particularly for low-income residents, by building and renovating homes.
Anyone can apply to be a Habitat homeowner, according to the organization’s website, but applicants must be willing to “partner” with Habitat, either helping to build their own home or that of another family.
Applicants must also pay “an affordable mortgage.” Mortgage payments are “cycled back into the community to help build additional Habitat houses.”
Ellsworth said that “there is often a misconception that local Habitats are supported by Habitat for Humanity International.”
But each local affiliate is independently owned, said Ellsworth, and is responsible for raising money for operating costs and building project funds. Habitat came up with the ReStore concept of selling new and gently used donated items as a way for local affiliates to raise money.
“Despite providing a valuable public resource for affordable home improvement materials, the selling of goods is not the primary goal of Habitat,” Ellsworth said. “ReStores across the country are run for the purpose of supporting the mission of building homes, not as a service in and of itself.”
Despite the store closing, “There remains a continued need for services like the ones Habitat provides in the county,” Ellsworth said. “Rental costs continue to outpace increases in wages, housing stock is scarce and homeownership is increasingly out of reach for local individuals and families.”
Maine’s eight Habitat affiliates, Ellsworth continued, “are a small but important part of the puzzle addressing the need for affordable housing in the state.”
The store is slated to close on Aug. 17. Progressively discounted sales will start in July. Scheduled donation pick-ups will cease in early August.
The store will only take donations for items that “typically move quickly this time of year,” said Ellsworth, which includes furniture, appliances, full cabinet sets, exterior doors and double pane windows. More details and updates will be posted on the affiliate’s Facebook page and on the website, hancockcountyhabitat.org.
Longtime board member Bill Zildjian said in the release: “We are extremely proud of all that we have accomplished over the years in partnership with members of the community, and we could not be more grateful for those who have believed in our vision and supported our mission by shopping, donating and volunteering at our ReStore.
“As this door closes, we look forward with anticipation to the completion of our latest new home build project in Franklin and to continuing to partner with you to provide local housing solutions which transform lives.”