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Habitat for Humanity opens ReStore on Front St

Committed to self-sufficiency: the new Habitat for Humanity ReStore will open at the former Bluck’s store on Front Street West. Here Habitat Bermuda’s Sheelagh Cooper and Barbara Brown pose with a painting for the new store (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

Fresh life will be breathed into a Front Street fixture when a home furnishings and art shop opens its doors this week.The former Bluck’s of Bermuda has become a Habitat for Humanity ReStore, which will sell new or slightly used items to help support struggling mothers.Sheelagh Cooper, the chairwoman of Habitat for Humanity of Bermuda, said: “ReStore is a trademarked name by Habitat International. “Habitat collects donations of household goods, hardware and building materials and resells them at a very reduced price.“The items are gently used or, in many cases, can be brand new donated from overstocked stores or businesses closing their doors.“We are proud to be able to say that every single penny from the sale of these items will go directly into one of our projects.” Ms Cooper added: “The reason that we can say that with such confidence, is that Habitat Bermuda is an all-volunteer organisation, with no paid staff.“We have virtually no overhead because of the generosity of the building owners and all of our sales and merchandising staff will be volunteers.”She said: “This is especially important because as many people know, we are well into our biggest project to date — the Transformational Living Centre for Families, which involves a significant renovation of the old Pembroke Rest Home on Parson’s Road. “This is a project that we are working on in collaboration with the Women’s Resource Centre.” The TLC for Families will be a residential centre for about ten mothers and their children, who will live there for up to a year while they are involved in programmes designed to help them manage on their own.Ms Cooper said: “Down the road, once the families move into the centre, the ReStore operations will provide opportunities for work and related skill development for the residents, as well as an ongoing source of financial support for the facility itself.“We are committed to self-sufficiency, especially now that Government is under increased pressure to assist struggling businesses and even charities.”Elaine Butterfield, the executive director of the WRC, added: “Ultimately, the women that will be resident at the TLC ... will learn stocking, accounting, retail business — all through the operating model of the ReStore.”The launch of the TLC for Families was delayed, in part because of the Covid-19 pandemic, but it is hoped the centre will be open by the end of this year. Ms Cooper said that the ReStore — a concept well-known in the US and Canada — will specialise in “very beautiful items and even some antique pieces that have been donated along with beds, bedding and china”.She thanked the Sherry Wakefield and Bluck families, who are the landlords of the property, as well as their agents Rego Sotheby’s International Realty “for their generosity in allowing us to launch the high-end part of the ReStore in the former Bluck’s location”.Bluck’s, near the junction of Front Street and Bermudiana Road, sold china, crystal and antiques for 175 years before it ceased trading in February last year.Peter Darling, the third generation of his family to run the store, said later that “the glory days of retail — when we actually made money — ended in the 1990s”.The shop, founded by William Bluck in 1884, started as a hardware store.Leslie Darling, Mr Darling’s grandfather, took over the business in 1942 after the death of his business partner John Bluck.The company said last year that its closure was a sign of changed lifestyles and spending habits.A second, larger store that will offer appliances, windows, doors and building materials is expected to be announced soon.Penny MacIntyre, a partner in Rego Sotheby’s, said: “As charities especially struggle to achieve donations in this difficult economy and in the wake of Covid-19, the Bluck and Sherry Wakefield families, as the landlords, and Rego Sotheby’s International Realty, as their agent, hope the charity will benefit from the highly visible location where the community may easily view their pop-up shop.”Ms Cooper said that the ReStore welcomed donations of slightly used furniture, beds, cabinets and artwork.When the larger store is ready, it will accept household appliances, doors, windows, building supplies and hardware.• ReStore will open on Friday, but private viewings or inquiries can be made in advance by e-mail to habitat.bermuda@gmail.com