Behind the scenes of the first year of the ReVive Centre
Since it opened just over a year ago, Habitat for Humanity Halton-Mississauga’s ReVive Centre has grown into a powerhouse of an operation.
ReVive got its start last April, when Habitat ReStore staff began noticing that they were getting a lot of product donations that couldn’t be sold in the store. The products which weren’t selling were sent to the landfill, causing both an extra cost and a negative environmental impact.
Tara Petch, Habitat’s Director of New Business Development, was given the task of answering, “What can we do with this stuff, and how can we create more revenue for our build projects?”
“Some volunteers were doing some ‘upcyling’ on a smaller scale, fixing things so we could sell them in the store,” she says. They upcycled and repaired products like donated old furniture to look newer, or gave them an antique, chic look. This allowed them to save products, save money from avoiding sending products to landfills and also add an additional revenue stream by selling items in the ReStore.
It also allowed the staff to give donors a more positive donation experience, since they can accept more donations from individuals. With the launch of the ReVive Centre, Habitat can say yes to more items, even if they’re things we wouldn’t normally be able to sell since we can give them the DIY treatment.
Tara described Revive as “a product development centre that maximizes all our material and product donations that we can’t otherwise sell as is in the ReStore to sell and raise revenue for home building.”
But last year, these success stories were not yet known. Revive started in a workshop space adjacent to the Mississauga Restore. The intention was to have volunteers come in and help us “revive” these items so they could be put back into ReStores for sale.
The team renovated the workshop and DIY area and then, it was time for the first team building experience.
“We just thought, ‘OK, we’ve planned as much as we can,” Tara recalled.
ConAgra Foods was the first team to build in ReVive. Last April, teams spent four days building wooden playhouses using donated materials. They made it into a competitive challenge, with each team competing to create the best playhouse. At the end of the four days, a team of judges evaluated the playhouses.
“The donor was like so nice. They were awesome. That may have been when we went, ‘OK, we can do this,’” Tara says.
ConAgra has continued to be a great donor, giving us a generous donation of snacks for our volunteers and returning for another year.
Since then, the playhouse build has evolved into a mobile experience involving more creative aspects like designing, painting and decorating. The ReVive Centre, too, has evolved. There are tons of corporate teams taking advantage of the unique team building experiences offered in ReVive. The donations from the teams are another way that Habitat receives more funding to build homes.
We also have tons of corporate teams taking advantage of the unique team building experiences offered in ReVive. The donations from the teams are another way that Habitat receives more funding to build homes.
Team build days involve a health and safety talk, the distribution of personal protective equipment (PPE), lunch, t-shirts and an album of photos on Facebook. Team members also have the option to purchase their creations at the end of their day. An important part of the experience is that team members can finish their projects in one day. That leaves people feeling fulfilled and happy with the contribution they’ve made.
In addition to product donations, ReVive has started accepting material donations like offcuts of wood and palettes. Partners like Sawmill Sid and Amberwood Doors have been instrumental in these donation processes.
“The volunteers are loving using the beautiful live edge and hard wood that we have been given,” Tara says. Volunteers come in every week to help create new designs, and the team is always happy to welcome more volunteers!
The products made from the palettes are popular, too. The team has been experimenting with using prototypes to perfect the building process. A prototype made last year of a Canadian flag made out of palettes board has proven to be a popular one. Teams create the flag and then either stain the wood or paint it. Tara says they consistently send flags to ReStores, and they sell out.
Sherian Groppini, owner of From the Attic Interiors, has been another amazing partner. She’s “super creative and a DIY expert,” Tara says. Sherian teaches corporate teams how to use paints, teaches technique training and leads teams in creative projects throughout the day.
HGTV Canada’s design expert Brian McCourt has also been a huge supporter of ReVive, and the team is excited to be launching a new project with him soon.
Tara says that whenever she’s at ReVive, she shares a moment of disbelief with Stan Misiak, the site supervisor. ReVive has a fun, creative environment that makes it hard not to want to be there. The energy is infectious — music is playing, people are sanding and painting and, of course, having fun. All the while, they’re contributing to Habitat’s efforts to provide affordable housing to families in local communities.
“Stan and I shake our heads. We say, ‘I still can’t believe this is happening.’ It’s awesome,” Tara says. “We keep meeting these amazing people who want to get involved and help us, whether it’s corporate donors, or volunteers, or partners, or people who are giving us this product and material.”
“It’s been really collaborative with the ReStore, it had to be,” Tara adds. There’s been lots of learning in the process, and there is still a way to go. But, she says, “it just keeps snowballing.”
So far, ReVive has proven to be a great source of revenue for Habitat, allowing us to diversify our revenue streams. It has also allowed us to appeal to a new audience of customers, as well. Products created in ReVive have special tags indicating they were made specially with a DIY touch, and they also have their own in-store destination in the ReStore. This, Tara notes, has allowed the team to expand in so many different ways — a new consumer base, a new volunteer base, a new partner base and a new donor base.
Proceeds from sales of upcycled items in the ReStore, as well as corporate donations from team building experiences in the ReVive Centre, support Habitat’s mission to create a world where everyone has a safe and decent place to live. To find out more about the ReVive Centre, visit our website.