MANSFIELD -- Habitat for Humanity of Richland and Crawford Counties ReStore was busier than usual Wednesday afternoon.
Several customers wandered up and down aisles, looking for colored tags indicating special sales and for even a brief time, a short line waited at the register.
The small crowd had gathered to celebrate the ReStore's relocation to 115 Park Ave. W. in downtown Mansfield's Imagination District with a ribbon-cutting ceremony.
"The sales since moving here in April have not been as high as we had hoped," said executive director Veronna Drane about the store, which features a variety of second-hand, donated furniture, doors, windows and other supplies needed for home improvement projects.
Slower sales, along with some unexpected costs, have caused the non-profit to reach a state of financial emergency.
"It seems to be several different things that hit us. We've seen a decline in donations for the past seven years.... And then, we had properties that came back to us for a number of different reasons -- maybe not a foreclosure, but a health issue that they couldn't take care of it or they followed a job out of state.
"And when we get those back, our goal is to 'recycle' them for another family, but that takes money. And that wasn't budgeted for unfortunately," Drane said.
According to a press release issued Tuesday, the HFHRCC has built, rehabbed or repaired more than 50 house in the area since its inception in 1988. Funding for these projects is reliant on donations from businesses, churches and individuals.
But according to Drane, money to complete “recycles” has traditionally come from Habitat’s own funds, or the Restore's profits. She explained three houses had recently been returned to the HFHRCC.
“While we went through the process of evaluating condition, finding home buyers, and repairing issues with the homes, they sat unoccupied. It required us to pay for incidentals, including heat, insurance and mowing of properties," she said.
This ultimately drained the non-profit's limited savings.
Drane is asking for the community's help through donations and purchases at the ReStore. The ReStore will accept in-person donations or arrange to pickup large furniture donations.
"We want to get the word out that we're here," she said. "Right now it really is about finding funding to cover those operation expenses. We are seeking donations from individuals, businesses and churches. We are applying for grants, doing what we can to keep the lights on so we can continue to serve families."
Despite the situation, Drane remains excited for the ReStore's new location in the Imagination District. The store was previously on Stumbo Road in Ontario.
"We've been around for 31 years in Mansfield, and we've seen so many changes happen, but the one thing that's stayed constant is our feeling that we're part of the community. And the community we've seen here is absolutely amazing," Drane said.
"Being downtown and embracing the Imagination District and all of the Mansfield Rising plan, it was really important to us. We wanted to be a part of that, just like we're part of the community."
Those interested in donating may visit Habitat’s website at www.habitatofrcc.org. Donations may be made online or by mailing to 115 Park Ave W, Mansfield, OH 44902, or by calling the office at 419-524-8361.