To call Chris Koch a veteran ReStore shopper is an understatement. He has been shopping at ReStore since it opened in 2007, and now he's a regular at both of our current locations – Minneapolis and New Brighton. But while his shopping patterns have been constant, his reason for shopping has changed along the way. When Chris started looking for bargains at ReStore, he was a DIYer, working on his own home in North Minneapolis. But now he's a professional who specializes rehabbing older homes – and finding unique materials for them at ReStore.
"It's kind of fun to piece it all together," he says. "You bring in your plans and you never know what you'll find." In fact, although he's inspired by ReStore's mission, and loves to look for bargains, he admits it's the "adventure" of shopping ReStore's ever-changing stock that really keeps him coming back for more.
"I go there for a purpose," he says, "but I always find something else that I can use."
Starting With His Own Home
Chis says his passion for ReStore – and his new business – all date back to his first project.
"I built my own house in North Minneapolis about ten years ago and sourced a lot of little things at ReStore," he remembers. "I found hinges and door slides and cabinets for the laundry room, and I found a lot of tools. They have a lot of specialty tools and I have a lot of stoneware in my house, so I found a lot of masonry tools there."
As he worked on his home, he actually developed the shopping pattern that still holds true today. "I would go there for tools primarily," he says, "and then I'd see what else I could find." For example, he found some rustic boards that he liked, and made a nice mantel out of wood that had been used for a scaffolding panel.
These days, Chris goes to ReStore about three times a month. "I usually go there looking for something in particular," he explains. "I might need some odd fasteners, and it's amazing the kinds of fasteners they have. I remember seeing some stainless steel siding nails - they had all kinds of the ones I needed and I saved a ton of money."
And, as usual, he also found something else. "While I was there, I happened to find a gallon of porch floor paint. It was perfect for a house I was working on. I put this textured paint on the porch and it looked great - and it only cost five or six bucks."
Working on Other Homes
Chris calls his business Minnesota Craftsman after making the leap from a job in marketing about a year ago. "My company wanted to move my job to Texas," he says, "and I didn't want to go with it." He'd already been doing some odd jobs helping neighbors with DIY-type projects, and one of his neighbors hired him to fix up a rental property.
"The rehab turned out great," he says. "I got some cabinet hardware from ReStore, and a lighting that was a little beat up but looked great after a little spray paint. And we kept it out of the landfill."
After that project was done, Chris decided to switch professions. He does handyman stuff like replacing cabinets and rehanging doors while working on his contractor's license. His specialty is older homes, which fits with his ReStore expertise.
"I’ll try to renovate to a period style, so it matches," he says. "I’ve found that the cabinetry you find at ReStore may be dated aesthetically, like honey oak wood or brass hardware, but I can take those cabinets to my shop in my garage and spray them or enamel them, and they look great."
He often uses white enamel, but recently had excellent results with steely gray, "iron ore" finish to match a light gray kitchen:
"The cabinets at ReStore are well-made – much better quality than you can buy off the shelf at a big box store. And if you spray them, you've got something that's really nice."
Why Shop at ReStore
"My business is growing and ReStore is a part of that," Chris says. "First, the Habitat mission is amazing. This is just one more way to improve the housing stock, and I love being part of that."
He also readily admits that part of ReStore's allure is the simple challenge of the "treasure hunt." He shops at both locations to double his chances of finding something special, and rarely leaves the store disappointed.
"Quite honestly, sometimes it’s just kind of fun to go there and see what’s there," he says. "I know I’ll always find something I can use, whether a cement mixing trowel or a tamper or an extension cord or a box of wire nuts. I can always go there and replenish something I need, and then I can also find something that's kind of cool, like a cool plumbing faucet or a hunk of granite I can throw on a tabletop."
Recently, he's even added something else to his ReStore visits: donations. "Lately, I've been taking out a lot of things, like replacing a vanity, and then coming here and donating it. Technically, I'm not just a customer but I'm also a supplier, and I don't have to haul it to the landfill. I can't say I'm 100% green, but ReStore makes donating really easy, and I do like keeping perfectly good materials out of the landfill."
Advice for Shoppers
If you're looking for shopping tips, Chris has some advice: "I have found the New Brighton one has more furniture and more flooring material, like tile and linoleum, but the Minneapolis ReStore had more windows, doors, and cabinets. Minneapolis also seems to have more light fixtures, which you can always fix up nice. A little oil rub and spray paint and they look like haute couture!"
Chris also suggests looking for yard tools. "You'd be amazed at all the rakes and shovels and stuff that are there." And he's recently begun recommending ReStore to his clients.
"A lot of the clients I work for are DIYers who hire me to do the things that are beyond their skills." When they look for advice on their own projects, he's quick to recommend ReStore.
"I say go to ReStore because they have all the tools you'll need," he says. "They have boxes of screwdrivers and saws and hammers and pliers and everything you need."
"I’m working for a lot of new homeowners who are excited to work on their house, and they really appreciate that tip," he says. "They can find materials, tools, and paint at ReStore – all at a great price – so I've really turned a lot of customers on to it."