My Time at the ReStore
Posted by elenajade
I haven’t posted anything for a while because I’ve been busy with my internship at the Habitat for Humanity ReStore in Mankato. It just ended last week, so finally I’m prepared to share everything I learned there.
Not familiar with the ReStore? That’s okay. Few people are. The ReStore is basically a fundraiser for Habitat for Humanity. So in Mankato, all of the profits we made go toward building homes in South Central Minnesota (after paying bills of course). The store sells gently used and new home improvement materials such as tile, doors, windows, paint, carpet, light fixtures, plumbing supplies, hardware supplies and even more. Everything sold in the store was donated by companies or private citizens. Basically, it’s a really good cause and you can find great stuff for dirt cheap because they mark down the prices by about 50%. While I was there we got in numerous shipments that were just overstock of perfectly brand new items from name brand home improvement stores.
I did a couple of very different things at my time there. First off, I worked in the store helping customers, running the cash register, stocking and organizing. This was part of my daily routine. On top of that, I did the weekly update for the store. The update was emailed out to people who requested it each week, and it included the sales for the week along with new items in the store. Because what’s in stock in the store is completely dependent on what people donate, items are constantly changing. The store might look completely different by the end of the day than it did when I walked in that morning. I also created a survey for our donors to better understand what brought them to the store and how to get them to come back. My survey was ultimately made available for all of the ReStores in the country to use. Another small project I did was revamping the store’s Facebook page. When I got there is was a regular friend page, and after I was done it was a fan page in timeline format with tabs for people to get more information on donating, shopping and volunteering at the store. Some company came in and offered to do the same thing to our page for a few hundred dollars a tab, but I said I could save us a ton of money by figuring it out on my own, so I did.
The biggest project I had at the ReStore was planning a donation pickup in a smaller surrounding town. I had to do this completely on my own. I figured out the time, the place, created the flyers, handed out the flyers, contacted local businesses about it, wrote and sent out a news release for it, then actually went to it and took the donations and put them in the truck for us to take back to the store– I did it all. It was the first time the store tried its hand at a project like this, and it went pretty well. We didn’t lose any money on it, and that was the major goal. The best part of the project was figuring out what worked and what didn’t so we could make it better in the future, and the store has plans to continue doing it in other communities.
All in all it was one of the best internship opportunities I could have asked for. I learned a TON about marketing and branding, which was very exciting coming from a journalism background. I met a lot of great people and didn’t just run coffee and sort files– I actually worked! Now I’m happy to tell people anything they’d like to know about the ReStore and its cause.
So now that graduation is over, the next step is job searching in Los Angeles!