At the Habitat ReStore With Bells On and $50 to Spend for the Holidays

Guest Blog Post by Vicki L. Friedman, Habitat ReStore Shopper

With $50 to spend for holiday shopping at the Habitat ReStore, I walked into the Newport News location unsure where to begin.

Luckily, the ReStore makes it easy with a Christmas display upfront. I’m a wrapping paper fiend, and wowzah! Last year, I recall being stunned by the soaring prices of gift wrap. Problem solved at the ReStore. Whether you like Santa, snow scenes or reindeer, the ReStore sells wrapping paper for $1.75, well below the sticker price listed at $3.99. I’m also a stickler for cute to and from stickers, and the ReStore doesn’t disappoint; got a bunch for $2. I can’t resist a few gift bags. Some are priced as low as $1 with the larger ones all of $1.50.

My cart looks like Christmas, and I’ve been in the store for 10 minutes. Better yet, I’ve spent $7. And one more “better yet” — in case you didn’t know, all proceeds from ReStore sales go toward building more houses in the local community that will be sold to qualifying families through Habitat for Humanity’s first-time Homebuyer Program. That’s something to feel good about as I fill up my cart.

I can’t resist the cutest little holiday stuffed toys that I know would delight my new rescue dog, Whiffie. This dog covets toys more than any dog I’ve had, and man, have dog toys gotten expensive. I stick a stuffed Santa into my cart for $2. I might not make Whiffie wait until Christmas at this price.

Cookie cutters. They’re adorable and for $2, why not?

When I spot boxes of outdoor lights, I think back to my annual gripe. While we’re not exactly the shame of the neighborhood, our holiday lights resemble a display from the ’80s. They’re mismatched. At some point while they’re up, some part of the string goes dark. Meanwhile, we’re surrounded by folks who do it right from glowing reindeer in the yard to icicle lights to those cool projectors that make magical images outdoors. For $8, I can cover my whole house instantly with falling snowflakes. Sounds like a plan.

I see Christmas cards and remember the days when I used to send them out. I don’t anymore, but my husband who has no concept of my idea of what things should cost, grabs boxes of them to mail to just about everyone he’s ever met. ReStore has a hearty stack for $2 for me to pass on to him. Plus, they have others that allow you to put a photo in, and while the kids are grown, our four dogs would make such a festive image that I might reconsider and send out a few. And yes, they’re $2, too.

I’m not here to buy gifts I tell myself, but I do a double take when I see a Saturday Night Live trivia game and again think of my husband, who is always retelling jokes from that show that nobody but him finds funny. Thinking he can use it to amuse himself in the bathroom, I chuck it into the cart for $3.

Then on a low shelf, I spot this gorgeous box with a red ribbon around and no hint of what’s inside. I stop to investigate. Two Mr. and Mrs. chef aprons still in their original wrappings are part of a box along with oven mitts for two and a book that reads “Romantic Recipes That Set the Mood for Love.” The aprons are really cool — deep pocketed and full body. I might even have to try out the Fried Pecan-Crushed Brie, one of 50 recipes inside the handsome book, before I wrap it up for my son and his girlfriend who aren’t Mr. and Mrs. yet but might as well be. It’s a cool find and the price is right at $8.

I’m done shopping early for gifts on this trip, though it’s hard to bypass the electric yogurt maker for $8. I’m a label reader lately and making my own yogurt without all those additives sounds healthy.

I spot a gorgeous holiday chip and dip set for $6, a no-brainer. I also see Halloween costumes on a rack that I pass by as I have no little ones. But what a good idea for parents who surely don’t want to spend a lot for something that will only be worn once.

I’m not planning on buying linens, but my sister and brother-in-law are often chilly when they visit, so flannel mistletoe sheets for the full bed in my guest bedroom will be a nice surprise for them. They’re $12 in a package that’s never been opened.

I’ve got $5 left before I hit $50 and spot this classy reindeer knickknack that reminds me of the ones my mother put in the center of our floor model stereo (those were a thing in the ’70s). It’s like Mom is here! In the cart it goes.

Taking my loot to the register, I see the sign that reads “Change makes change.” Rounding up when you pay contributes to a fund to build another Habitat house in the community. What’s a few cents for me contributes to a mission that Santa and I’d say everybody would approve of. As I leave, I know I’ll be back. ReStore inventory is constantly changing. With Christmas really not that far away, there are treasures here with the prices to match that simply cannot be found anywhere else.


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We help as many families as we can, but the lack of decent and affordable housing remains a critical problem in our area. By donating, you will provide upfront funding for building materials and services that makes interest-free loans to Habitat partner families possible. Habitat partner families help to build their own homes - alongside volunteers - and pay an affordable mortgage. Your monetary donations enable us to continue building strength, stability and independence for future local families.