Habitat and IRN – Laying a Foundation for Success

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.

Habitat Gets the Word Out

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.

Contribution to Sustainability

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.

Inventory Composition

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.

Description Count*
Chairs - caster, stacking, and side 1,509
Tables - height adjustable work tables, folding tables, round tables, and other 711
Bookcases 196
Storage Cabinets & Credenzas 83
Lounge Seating - sofas, lounge chairs 42
Desks 26
File Cabinets 28
Whiteboards & Corkboards 22
Other 31
Total: 2,648

* as of January 2017

A Plan for Growth

“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.

House 25 will be ready for its new owners in January 2017.

Chairs shipped by IRN to Habitat Store in Shelton.

Executive Director Marty Crow (left) and Store Manager Scott Peebles

IRN has been working with Habitat for Humanity International since 2005 and has provided surplus furnishings to more than 40 ReStores nationwide.