Niagara Gazette


May 5, 2014

VIDEO: ReClaim Store offers the reusable building materials

Niagara Gazette — Nothing makes some decorators happier than old, gently used household items like a claw-foot bathtub or a brass door knob.

A new ReClaim Store in Niagara Falls is going to offer a treasure trove to such decorators, as well as to homeowners, landlords and bargain shoppers.

The store, which was opened in a temporary location at 2411 Hyde Park Blvd. in Harpor Plaza, is another extension of the increasingly successful Isaiah 61 Project, which trains unemployed and underemployed people in the construction trades while renovating abandoned city homes. The homes are then sold at affordable prices to families who can help stabilize neighborhoods.

“You’ve got your artsy craftsy people who are going to love this place, but I’ve been told our best customers will be the area landlords,” said Jim Haid, executive director of the project.

During a recent tour of the new store and warehouse, Haid showed off the many doors, windows and pieces of molding available for purchase. He picked up a long piece of what appeared to be an old dust board. “You putty this up, repaint it and you’re good to go,” he said, smiling.

Haid is modeling the re-claim store after two re-use stores in Buffalo that are run by Habitat for Humanity. He shops frequently at one of the Habitat stores in South Buffalo and recently found a good deal on a claw-foot bathtub, which he refinished. So he’s clear on the satisfaction to be found in good bargains on such materials.

The store is supplied by items pulled from homes the City of Niagara Falls is about to demolish. Three workers, all former students now employed full-time by the program, deconstruct vacant homes, removing any materials that can be re-used such as cabinets, stair rails, sinks and bathtubs. Those items are sold in the re-claim store with proceeds cycling back into the Isaiah 61 Project.

The city gives the program access to all the homes it is about to demolish. Seth Piccirillo, director of the department of development, said he appreciates the value to be found in Isaiah 61 workers saving the best of the city’s old housing stock.

“Giving them access to the homes helps to find the value in something essentially valueless,” Piccirillo said.

The Falls program also recently branched out into the Niagara Falls school district and high school students are now joining rebuilding efforts on Isaiah 61 projects.

“The point is to get our graduates a living-wage position in the building trades,” Haid said.

There have been 40 graduates thus far since the program began last year and the program recently welcomed another 30 students from throughout the Niagara region. “We’ll take students from anywhere,” Haid noted.  

The ReClaim Store location on Hyde Park Boulevard is only temporary until the fall, when the store will move into a permanent location in an old firehall at Highland Avenue and Saunders Settlement Road.  

The store, like the program, exists due to the wide support of local government, area foundations, trade unions, school districts and businesses.  Just recently, the prestigious O’Shei Foundation gave the project $200,000.  

Jaysen Bryk of H.W. Bryk and Sons donated his time and the equipment to teach students of the Isaiah 61 Project how to install a heating system into the home currently being renovated.

“It’s a good program for getting people back on the right track,” he said, noting that he was happy to teach plumbing and heating skills to the students.

“You never know,” he added. “They might start working for me.”

Several local contractors have already committed to bringing their re-useable waste products, such as old kitchen cabinets, to the store. In addition, donations are welcome, Haid said.

“We’re more than happy to accept donations. When someone’s cleaning out their garage, attic or basement finds used building materials laying around, such as windows, doors, plumbing fixtures and old lights — we ‘re set up to pick those items up,” he said. “All they have to do is call us.”

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