What's the difference?
What's the DIFFERENCE?
We regularly are asked by supporters:
“What are the differences and similarities between Furniture Bank and ReStore?“
We were fortunate to have the support of the senior manager of communications for Habitat GTA. He was kind enough to provide us with some answers on how his organization works. We’ve highlighted some interesting similarities and differences in how we operate and help those in our communities.
Table of Contents
How are you different from each other?
Habitat ReStore is the retail social enterprise of Habitat for Humanity GTA, providing furniture and home improvement donations they collect (via pickups or drop-offs) are made available for sale to the community with proceeds helping fund the Habitat homes the organization builds for families in the GTA. The Habitat ReStore model also reduces the need for the production of new furniture and further stress on our supply of natural resources. It extends the value of quality, new and used furniture and household items and limits unnecessary waste, decreasing our collective carbon footprint. Net proceeds from Habitat ReStore offsets Habitat for Humanity GTA’s fundraising costs.
Furniture Bank is both a non for profit charity and a social enterprise. When a furniture removal service is scheduled, it allows Furniture Bank to pay for operations and provide your furniture donations free of charge to the families we serve. Embedded in our operations, we also provide social employment opportunities and training through our Furniture Repair workshop and Leg Up social hire program. When hiring our team, a few things happen. Like any removal service, our team will provide a professional service of removing your unwanted items.
But unlike most removal services operating during this time, we are offering an in-home service following COVID-19 protocols.
- Once picked up, your items are transported to our warehouse
- They are then quarantined for 48 hours to ensure the safety of our clients
- They are then ready for staging and will be delivered to families in need
We are proud to say we divert your items from the landfill and give them a second life – in 2020 alone we have diverted 94% of items received!
What furnishing items do you accept?
Habitat ReStore accepts donations of quality new and used home furniture and decor, appliances, kitchen and bath fixtures and other renovation items from the community, as well as donations of salvageable household and home improvement building materials from manufacturers, stores and contractors. Donated items we accept must be in very good condition as Habitat ReStore will not accept items that are broken, excessively stained or dirty or have experienced other forms of damage. Our retail social enterprise needs to sell what we receive – so many items may not be accepted if not worth selling.
Furniture Bank accepts gently used apartment sized furniture and housewares. We accept things like bedroom, living room and dining room furniture as well as boxes of dishes, cutlery and small appliances. We focus on apartment sized furniture that meets our size restrictions, as the families we serve primarily reside in smaller spaces. For this reason, items like large appliances, outdoor furniture and very large cabinets wouldn’t be a right fit. Items must be in a gently used condition and a good indicator of gently used furniture is if you felt comfortable giving away items to a family member or friend in its current condition.
Are your drop-offs open?
Habitat ReStore is accepting drop-offs (free of charge) at all 12 of their GTA store locations Tuesday to Saturday between 11AM-5PM. Check out their Store Locations page for contact information.
Furniture Bank does not offer a drop off option at this time.
When COVID-19 hit, our safety protocols and best practices required us to significantly change how we treat and process incoming donations. As research from global experts highlights – we needed to let incoming donations remain untouched for 48 hours to ensure any COVID-19 has gone. This means we have lost over 30% of our warehouse to handle this critical function. So we’ve needed to pause drop offs until we find a solution for storing furniture if we reopened.
Do you provide a pick-up service?
Habitat ReStore does provide a free pick-up service in the GTA. However, since they receive a high volume of requests for free donation pick-ups, the social enterprise only picks up larger, multi-item donations in order to prioritize their truck fleet and resources. Community members are encouraged to submit a pick-up donation request form to see if their items would qualify for a free pick-up.
Furniture Bank offers a professional furniture removal service that will come collect your unwanted furniture and home goods. The cost of the service is calculated by a full list of items for donation and the associated volume it would take in the truck as well as the location of pickup (we service the Greater Toronto Area). Purchasing our social enterprise service provides us the financial resources to remain in operation. This includes keeping our lights on, paying our staff, and keeping our trucks on the roads. When you pay for our removal service, you support a local charity and families in need in your community. We see ourselves as the most socially and environmentally responsible removal solution in comparison to Junk Companies (see our 2020 detailed Review of Toronto’s Top 11 Junkers to learn more).
How do you evaluate the items? What does the process look like?
Habitat ReStore evaluates the items they collect for donation based on quality, condition and salability. In terms of evaluating how to price items for sale, accepted donations are assessed based on condition (new or gently used), researching how much the item or equivalent items sell for at other retailers, volume of the items in-stock at any given time, and through their staff’s sales experience. Habitat ReStore strives to price the items they sell at the lowest price if not one of the lowest prices on the market.
Furniture Bank is focused on reuse not resale – and all items are evaluated for acceptability based on the following criteria: Do the items fall within our definition of pre-loved and gently used, are they useful for our client families, and do they meet our size restrictions? We can accept gently used furniture that may not be brand new or even modern, but can be reused by a family in its current condition. To confirm acceptability, we may ask for dimensions and/or photos of the items for donation. As the families we support often live in very small apartments, some oversized items may have to be refused.
What do you do with the furniture donations?
Donations are made available for sale to the community to support Habitat for Humanity GTA’s home building activity.
When items are donated to Furniture Bank, they are redistributed to the families we serve. We work with over 140 agencies in our community that refer clients to our organization. We serve women and children seeking shelter, newcomers to Canada and the formerly homeless – in the last 5 years customers using our social enterprise customers provided the free home goods and furnishings to support over deliveries to families in need and helped 18,157 families to start a new with a safe and dignified home.
Do you offer a tax receipt? How do you assess the value of tax receipts?
Habitat ReStore provides tax receipts for the donations they accept. The tax receipt value is assessed based on the value of the items.
Furniture Bank provides tax receipts for the donations they accept. The tax receipt value is assessed based on the value of the items. We can provide an exact tax receipt value over the phone when you speak with our social enterprise sales team which will often offset the cost of the service.
What’s your COVID pickup policy?
Habitat ReStore is only offering contactless, curbside pickup for donation items at the moment. All items must be placed inside garages, outside on the property, or at loading bays of condos or apartment buildings. To learn more visit: https://habitatgta.ca/restore/donate-stuff-to-restore/
Furniture Bank offers both an in-home and distanced removal. In-home removal includes residential homes, places of business and condo buildings. With distanced removal, we ask that items be in a designated area outside, like a garage, porch or driveway. With both types of service, we ask that a 6 ft distance be maintained at all times in order to ensure the safety of all involved. Please note that in light of the current provincial wide lockdown, Furniture Bank does not service retirement residences or long term care communities.