MOSCOW, Idaho – Palouse Habitat for Humanity is expanding its thrift store with the hope that more revenue will lead to more affordable homes being built on the Palouse.
In April, Sprenger Construction will begin work to renovate the Palouse Habitat Surplus Sale on 304 N. Main St. in Moscow to combine all the adjoining buildings into one store.
“We’re more than doubling our retail square footage,” said Habitat Executive Director Jennifer Wallace.
Woodland Catalog, the mail-order catalog business owned and operated by Jim and Dawn Fazio, is moving out of that site, which will free up more room for Habitat for Humanity to sell gently used hardware and home furnishings. Construction is expected to be completed by year’s end.
To pay for its home-building projects, Wallace said the nonprofit relies on fundraising and mortgages from families living in Habitat homes. It does not receive federal grants.
“It’s an ambitious goal to try to build a house a year when you’re doing it that way,” she said.
Last year, the Surplus Sale raised more than $200,000, Wallace said. She said Palouse Habitat for Humanity hopes a bigger store will bring in more revenue, and subsequently more opportunities to help the community.
“We could be talking about potentially (building) two homes a year and increasing the number of home repair projects that we do each year,” she said.
She said the nonprofit’s board of directors is exploring other ways to serve local cities, including neighborhood revitalization projects that other Habitat for Humanity affiliates have done.
“Whatever we end up doing more of, we can’t do it without raising more money and it’s just that simple,” she said.
Wallace said local communities are in desperate need of affordable housing. The median price of a home in Whitman County was $360,000 as of February, she said, and rising prices are partly the result of building rates not keeping up with demand.
Palouse Habitat for Humanity has built 21 homes in Latah and Whitman counties. Its most recent home is being built in Moscow.
She said more space in the thrift store will also allow the nonprofit to recycle more furniture and supplies. Many items are donated to the Palouse Habitat for Humanity by the public as well as property managers, hotels and construction companies.
According to the nonprofit, the store kept nearly 300,000 pounds of material out of the landfill last year.
Wallace said the store is a great place to find affordable home supplies as well as niche items.
“Folks like the chance to come and hunt for treasures to find that one little doorknob,” she said. “They don’t want to buy all new doorknobs for their dresser, they just want the one. Sometimes, we’ve got exactly what people are looking for. So we like to say this is where you should stop first if you’re looking for that home repair.”
Palouse Habitat moved into the Main Street location in 2013 after operating out of a classroom in Emmanuel Lutheran Church in Moscow. Wallace said it was able to afford renting there thanks to a generous deal with the previous building owner, Jim and Dawn Fazio.
The Fazios sold the building to Palouse Habitat for Humanity in 2019. The Fazios continued to operate their business at that property following the sale.