The Northwest Wisconsin Business Development Corporation (NWBDC) awarded loan funding to assist Wild Rivers Habitat for Humanity, Inc.’s (WRHFH) ReStore transition to its new location (the old Larsen Auto dealership location) in Spooner, Wisconsin.
Wild Rivers Habitat for Humanity
(WRHFH) has a 20 year history of providing decent, affordable homes for people in need in Northwestern Wisconsin. In 2013, WRHFH merged with the Habitat operations in Rusk and Washburn Counties, and currently operates under one entity in Polk, Barron, Rusk and Washburn Counties. In 2013, the Spooner ReStore was opened and had instant success.
“We’ve had such great success as an organization that we were busting at the seams in our original location,” Executive Director Jennifer Johnson explained. “While we will miss the prime location across from Economart, the new location will be a great fit for further expansion of our mission.”
WRHFH originally opened in the Spooner Country Store building adjacent to the Washburn County fairgrounds on Highway 63. The location assisted with the instant success of the ReStore as it was highly visible with ample parking and desirable signage. However, as the ReStore and WRHFH continued to expand, a new location was desired to house the administrative staff and retail operation.
WRHFH located the former Larsen Auto dealership. Terry and Brenda Larsen were more than accommodating and have supported the expansion project from the beginning. Moving to the new location on the north side of Spooner has proved a logical move for the ReStore.
The building was constructed in 2008, is handicap accessible and has lots of natural light that is conducive for the retail environment. The natural light promotes a friendly environment for customers to appreciate the mission of WRHFH as the customer searches for the next hidden treasure. Associates also appreciate the upgraded retail store environment.
“Strategically, the new location is the right fit for [WRHFH] need, and the ability to combine the retail operation with the ReStore and a centralized office for operations just makes good fiscal sense,” Johnson explained.
The new location also has three offices and a conference room, allowing the affiliate operations to move from the St. Croix Falls ReStore to Spooner.
The first Habitat ReStore was created in Austin, Texas in 1992. Today, there are ReStores in 48 States and 9 Provinces in Canada. In FY 2012, ReStores generated $280 million in revenue and $78 million in profits. As mentioned above, the ReStore will be part of Wild Rivers Habitat for Humanity. WRHFH is governed by an ecumenical board of 12-16 volunteers that meets monthly to set policy and oversee operations. Several committees of volunteers raise funds, raise public awareness, organize volunteers, work with local churches, select the families for the homes, and work on family support issues. WRHFH was founded in 1997 and has successfully completed 31 homes for families and multiple home preservation projects to improve the livability and safety of existing homes.
This project is expected to create two positions and retain eight jobs for Spooner, Wisconsin. To see if your business would qualify for a startup, transition or expansion loan product at NWRPC, contact loan fund manager Ken Pearson
at (715) 635-2197.