No matter where you live along the Front Range, there’s likely a secondhand building materials seller near you. Not only are prices lower, but the stores are often tied to charities.
Ranging in size from shops to warehouses, these sustainability-oriented nonprofits carry donated merchandise ranging from the most utilitarian — lighting fixtures, appliances, cinder blocks, flashing, plywood, sinks, bathtubs, cabinets, furniture and the like — to one-of-a-kind random finds that you didn’t even realize you needed — a cash register, a fireplace, kerosene heater, and even elementary school desks from the Boulder Valley.
If you’re lucky, you might even stumble upon something quirky: a vintage vinyl chair with metal tacks and curving legs, an antique floor lamp with a period glass shade or a clawfoot tub. Allow more time when you visit than you think you’ll need, because these places are not just shopping trips, they’re adventures. While you don’t know exactly what you’ll find, you can certainly count on delight and surprise.
“Remember that Forrest Gump movie, where he said, ‘Life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re going to get?’ I call this thrift store my big box of chocolates, because you never know what you’re going to get, and it’s a treasure hunt,” Ed Kepple, store manager at the Longmont ReStore, said. “We have customers shop in here weekly just looking for treasures.” They’ll find more than treasures, with prices typically between one-third and one-quarter of the new price.
ReStores are retail fundraising outlets attached to individual Habitat for Humanity affiliates. They offer recycled building materials as well as excess new materials from Habitat home-construction projects. In addition to Longmont, there are ReStores up and down the Front Range, from Fort Collins to Pueblo, and everywhere in between.
Brandon Hill, program director at ReSource 2000, which is run by the Center for ReSource Conservation, both in Boulder, likewise plugged the unpredictability and the value of shopping at ReSource, the thrifty version of a big box outlet.
Last year ReSource diverted 4 million pounds of perfectly-good construction materials from the waste stream, all while offering their consumers — who range from amateur hobbyists to professional contractors — a deep, deep discount of more than 85 percent off the new price, for most items.
“Retro is very ‘in.’ You have one-of-a-kind items at an unbeatable price, why would you not shop here?” Hill said.
ReSource is believed to be the largest such purveyor in the western United States outside of the Pacific Northwest. “Construction and demolition waste is a big problem in Boulder County because there’s so much material,” Hill said. “We’re putting a good dent into that, but I’m looking forward to putting an even bigger dent into that.”