Habitat for Humanity resale shop to close

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By Stephen Knapp

Evergreen bargain hunters will lose a treasured resource next month when the Blue Spruce Habitat for Humanity resale emporium closes its doors for the last time.

“Our lease is up at the end of February, so we’ll have to be out of here by then,” says manager Lynn Miller, the store’s only paid employee. “We’ve been a face in this community for nine years, so we’re pretty sad about it. There’s a long, rich history of what this store’s gone through.”

Blue Spruce launched the emporium in 1998 to provide a steady stream of funds for the nonprofit’s building activities. The shop spent time in a Meadow Drive storefront and in a windowless trailer behind Evergreen Glass before settling into its current Bryant Drive address.

“We’ve always had a very loyal following,” Miller says. “We have about 30 regulars who come in all the time, sometimes every day. And we get a lot of occasional traffic from collectors and antique hunters.”

“There are basically two kinds of people who shop at this kind of store,” says Colleen Snyder, one of about two dozen volunteers who help Miller keep the emporium’s donations sorted and shelves stocked. “You get people who are looking for bargains, and you get people who don’t have a lot of money and really need this kind of store. It’s an important community resource. We had so hoped they would keep it open.”

In fact, the decision by the Blue Spruce board to shutter the cozy everything-shop wasn’t made in haste. According to executive director Kathleen O’Leary, the emporium has been existing on the edge of profitability for years.

“Two years ago it made a $5,000 profit, and last year it made $8,300,” O’Leary says. “We looked at moving it to a different location, but rental property is expensive up here. We just want to make sure it doesn’t slide into un-profitability and wind up taking money from homebuilding.”

Even as the sand runs out on its resale emporium, Blue Spruce is moving ahead with a considerably more ambitious retail venture. Sometime in late 2009, they’ll cut the ribbon on a 10,000-square-foot “Habitat ReStore” on Floyd Hill specializing in donated building materials and appliances.

“There’s a ReStore in Wheat Ridge and one in Denver, and they both make a lot of money,” Miller says. “I’ve been told they can gross $1 million a year.”

With any luck, Blue Spruce’s cozy resale emporium can still go out with a big-money bang. Starting in a couple of weeks, shoppers can expect to see deep, deep discounts on the store’s already rock-bottom prices.

“Any donations we can’t sell, we’ll re-donate to other nonprofits, but we’re going to try to sell as much as possible before we close,” Miller says. “I’m not sure exactly what we’ll do yet, but it’ll be a really great sale.”

To learn more about Blue Spruce Habitat for Humanity, call 303-674-1127 or visit www.bluesprucehabitat.org.