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Habitat store celebrates 1st birthday with profit

By Paul Huggins 340-2395

It's only its first anniversary, but the Habitat Home Improvement Warehouse has 10,000 reasons to celebrate today.

The store has made $10,000 profit since opening a year ago, surpassing expectations.

"Our goal for the first year was to hopefully break even, which we did and even made a little profit," said Landis Wheat, store manager. "So, we're very excited about that."

From January 2006 through December, the warehouse store at 620 Wilson St. N.E., had $120,000 in sales revenue. It had $170,000 in expenses, but $60,000 in start-up grants allowed it to turn a profit.

That money will go toward furthering Habitat for Humanity of Morgan County's mission of building simple, decent and affordable housing for low-income families.

"Ten thousand will buy you a lot, maybe two lots," said Mindy Thwing, Habitat director.

"Most people said it would take us two years to get out of the red, so we feel very blessed to have something to show for it after one year," she said.

The store, in the former Office Furniture Outlet, sells appliances, furniture, doors, windows, cabinets, sinks, countertops, paint, lawn equipment, building supplies and hardware.

All of the items are donated, and most are used. That allows the store to sell the items at a fraction of the cost of new items.

Wheat said more than 10,000 people shopped the 22,000-square-foot store during the past year and foot traffic has increased month to month.

With the start-up costs mostly out of the way, expenses will be down this year, she said, making it easier to make a profit without grants.

The projection for Habitat's fiscal year ending in June is for $184,000 in sales, which would give it a profit of about $50,000.

The store's goal is to give the organization the steady source of income it needs to expand operations from four to seven homes per year.

The Morgan County Habitat organization copied the idea for the home improvement warehouse from the Habitat in Madison County. The Huntsville store made $368,000 in 2005.

Wheat said the Decatur store's top-selling items are kitchen cabinets, followed by appliances.

"We're always in need for more if somebody would like to donate," she said.

"We will pick up donations Tuesday through Friday, and donors receive a tax-credit letter."

The store is open Tuesday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Saturday 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. For more information or for a pickup, call 308-1160.

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