Taking Notes From Leaders At Habitat for Humanity: Great Retailers Learn to Evolve as the Market Around Them Continues to Progress!
This week, my boss and I were given the unique opportunity to “Flip the Script” as we headed out to Austin Texas to become “first time exhibitors” at the Habitat for Humanity Large Store Symposium 2023!! Working for ASD Market Week, we are accustomed to putting on large B2B Trade Shows twice a year in Las Vegas, so I decided it would be beneficial to document and share our story with other industry leaders in hopes of inspiring more of us to take a deeper dive into the clients and community we serve.
“When the Trade Show Producer Becomes the Exhibitor!”
First off, when I said my boss joined me, she actually made this opportunity happen! The Habitat for Humanity Restore group has been coming out to our show in Las Vegas for a few years, and she happened to stop in a local store by her house to check out the establishment. Well, their product was so good, she ended up coming home with brand new cabinets! That’s right, they have a combination of used items that are donated, and some amazing new items at incredible prices, making it easy for everyone to shop!!
Shortly after speaking with a leader at the local affiliate, my boss learned about this meet up and offered to invest in a booth so we could get to know the community better! Yes, that’s right!! The Group Vice President of one of the largest brands in our portfolios worked the booth alongside her staff so we could learn and better know a group that had a few members already show at our events. The symposium is a yearly meet up where leaders from the larger stores come to collaborate and share how business is performing in their local regions.
They allow vendors to take small booths so that in-between panels and workshops, attendees can shop product and ask questions about sourcing product into their stores. This is the part of it that made it so much fun for us! We proudly displayed goody bags full of ASD Market Week swag bags, a place a business card to “enter to win” $200 contest, and the brightest, purple table cloth! Add in two smiling faces and we were ready to gab and spread the good word on our show!
What we were not prepared for: The interest level of our current and past exhibitors. We had a good amount of walk ups where vendors came to say hello and inquire on why we were there as we had nothing to sell?
It gave us great pleasure to see how pleasantly surprise they looked when we noted we were there for the same reason they were – make connections and hopefully bring a few friends to future ASD Market Week shows so they could do business with our vendors! We are all in this together!
I have to say, Habitat for Humanity killed it with their hospitality and for making all of us feel so warm and included in the event. Not only did we get invited to tour their beautiful Austin store, but, we also got to enjoy dinner at their distribution house and mingle!
We were also invited to listen to their panels which highlighted their mission to help communities, the importance of revenue, how to retain employees, and the importance of social! The main difference in there overview of the business that differed from other groups or organizations is that all the topics drilled down to one main objective: How many homes can we build and how many more people can we lift up and make them smile.
I am incredibly grateful and honored to have witnessed this group in action and cannot express how important this was to better understand the community and their role in the communities they serve. If you have any items that you no longer need, consider donating new or used to help them in their efforts to build more homes!!
A Few Fun Facts on Habitat for Humanity That We Learned From the Symposium!!
- Furniture, cabinets and appliance account for most of the sales (about 60%)
- The largest restore is 140,000 sq/ft and located in Kansas City.
- The 1st Habitat for Humanity Store started in Austin, Texas.
- There are a total of 912 stores.
- Collectively, they have 7,786 employees.
- The average size store – 16,358
A Few Fun Facts About the Overall Organization:
1.) Their team is collaborative and extremely innovative with the hopes of continuing to further fulfill their mission of helping both people in need and the protecting the earth
- Austin Texas Affiliate is in Phase 2 of 3D printing !! They are initial stages of designing products using recycled plastic that they receive at their stores. The intent is to get to a point where customers can design their own nightstands, chairs, etc., and save trash from going to the dumpster!
2.) They pay attention to retail trends, like thrift, and how that applies to their business.
- Based off current retail trends in Q2 – the teams know that the stigma behind use product is shifting to more positive – which encourages them to try a few new items in their stores that they might not have had previously.
- The public is paying attention to the advantage of thrift: Environmental impact, Take it home today, Unique, one of a kind, Not subject to production delays, rising material costs, Gen x – thrill or hunt, Support local community.
3.) They Pay Attention to Sales and See it as Simple Math!!
- Transactions – less transactions means you need to get more people coming into the store so you can try and hit numbers.
- Many are now seeing and using checkout lanes to drive UP the average ticket!!
- Create excitement with Value! Monday and Tuesday clearance day at the Los Angeles Restore – helps save a lot of product from dumpsters
- Affiliates are starting to get creative by placing batteries attached to an item to an electronic item (convenient and compatible)
The end moto!! Great retailers learn to evolve as the market around them evolves.
About Humanity for Humanity Restore:
Habitat ReStores are independently owned reuse stores operated by local Habitat for Humanity organizations. ReStores accept donations and sell a constantly changing inventory of diverse, high-quality merchandise to the public at a fraction of the retail price, while diverting reusable household items and building materials from area landfills.
Sales of donated items help Habitat for Humanity partner with local families to build, rehabilitate and repair safe and affordable homes in your community and around the world — a good deal for you, your community, and the environment.
Together, we can help families achieve the strength, stability, and self-reliance they need to build a better future while creating stronger neighborhoods. Learn more on how you can donate, volunteer, and help them in their mission here: https://www.habitat.org/restores
Images Courtesy of Stephanie Beringhele shot at Habitat for Humanity Large Store Symposium 2023.