Mason County, located on Washington’s Olympic Peninsula has a rich history in logging, farming, and shellfish farming. It is also the home to two bustling Habitat for Humanity Stores offering an ever-changing selection of furniture, building supplies, and household goods. Proceeds from the sales of these items fund construction of homes in the community.
In May 2015, Habitat in Mason County, decided to take a chance and accept a very large donation from IRN – a 53’ tractor trailer stuffed with 200 pieces of furniture from a tech company in the Seattle area. There was little room to store this inventory at either store and store managers knew that they had to move this merchandise quickly. Word got out – lots of inventory and priced to sell - and it sold within a week. Another shipment accepted 20 days later soon sold too.
During 2016, Habitat Mason County’s new Executive Director Marty Crow accepted six more shipments with increasing frequency. It only took a few shipments from IRN for Marty to see a pattern emerging. Whenever he received an IRN shipment sales for that month would increase 10 to 20%. Marty estimates that the incremental revenue from these sales has funded at least one half of the construction of Mason County Habitat House #25 in Shelton, WA.
The method for handling and selling these large shipments involves having a volunteer crew ready for unloading, pricing aggressively, and promoting the new inventory. Word goes out on Habitat Mason’s active Facebook page and during a weekly radio spot on a local station. In this rural community, word of mouth is effective too. Even the unusual sight of tractor trailer at the store causes people to stop by.
Sustainability is a critical part of Habitat’s values. Habitat houses are built to high standards for resource stewardship of energy, water, and materials. By returning all this furniture to local residents and businesses, Habitat Mason County has kept nearly 50 tons out of the landfill, providing a further benefit to the environment, as well as the community.
The gently used high quality furniture comes from technology companies in the Seattle area that are refurbishing their offices, lounges, and multipurpose rooms. Marty Crow knows that with the right price and presentation, people will find a use for all sorts of items. For example, his IRN shipments have included height adjustable tables, formerly used as desks. They are very durable tables, sturdy enough for mounting power tools. to use in their workshops. Word got out that these were very useful as workbenches and now they are in high demand.
* as of January 2017
“Looking forward, we plan to double our intake of IRN surplus furniture. When each shipment causes a significant bump in monthly sales, we are on track to financing at least one additional house per year from these sales alone”, says Marty Crow.