Hello, lights: Habitat awaits action that'll permit store to open

By Corey Pride / Cpride@losbanosenterprise.comMarch 8, 2013 

Let there be light... and a restroom.

That has been Habitat Westside's goal for the past 19 months as the group strove to turn its warehouse garage sale, held for four hours on Saturdays, into a full-fledged secondhand store.

The local Habitat for Humanity opened a ReStore to support its charitable work in August of 2011, but there was a problem. The building inspector would not allow the store, at 110 G St., to open without electricity and a restroom. Instead a compromise was reached, the city permitted "garage sales" to take place on Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Habitat Westside members and city residents have spent the past year and a half toiling away to make sure electrical wiring and plumbing were installed. The work was completed in the past few weeks.

Ned Ryan, president of Habitat Westside, said the ReStore has had a lot of support from the public during the process.

"We've mostly spread by word of mouth," Ryan said. "Our biggest customers are people that own or manage rental properties. Also, we have a lot of customers who own their own homes."

Private citizens, Home Depot, Lowe's, Sorensen's True Value Hardware, Orchard Supply and others contribute to Habitat Westside's inventory. Almost anything needed to refurbish a home can be found at the store, and all at a discount.

Fire Chief Chet Guintini, who heads Los Banos' Building Department, must sign off on the improvements before Habitat Westside can expand store hours. Ryan said he's looking forward to meeting with Guintini.

"We'll be talking soon," Ryan said.

He said once approval is given to extend store hours, the facility will open two days per week with plans to add a third if enough volunteer staff is available.

Sandy Lemas, member of the board of directors for Habitat Westside, said the store having longer hours will be good for the public.

"They'll have more access to our great bargains," she said.

Habitat Westside has built or refurbished 16 homes since being formed in 1997. Ryan said his group's latest projects include a remodel of a house on F Street and a neighborhood revitalization project in Dos Palos.

Enterprise reporter Corey Pride can be reached at (209) 388-6563 or by email at cpride@losbanosenterprise.com.

Enterprise reporter Corey Pride can be reached at (209) 388-6563 or by email at cpride@losbanosenterprise.com.

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