Finding bargains and helping fund a dream 1

Manager Joe Lublinkhof, left, and Habitat ReStore volunteer Kevin McCabe disassemble a loft bed for pickup by a customer. The store, which sells donated gently used furniture and housewares at deep discounts, supports Habitat for Humanity home construction.

Much of any given Habitat for Humanity housing construction project is paid for through donations of money, material and labor.

But increasingly, projects in Queens and throughout the city are being funded by the ReStore, Habitat for Humanity NYC’s secondhand site in Woodside for gently used furniture, housewares and appliances that is marking its first anniversary.

“Everything we have is donated — we don’t spend a cent on inventory,” said Joe Lublinkhof, the store’s manager.

And the store’s earnings go toward Habitat’s efforts to build or rebuild affordable houses in residential neighborhoods for homeowners who just need a head start to own a home.

The stock last Tuesday, much of it donated in recent days, included sofas, a dining room set, tables, cabinets and bookshelves. Toward the back were appliances and even building materials, including free-standing doors and windows.

The store is staffed by volunteers and is open seven days a week.

Lublinkhof said customers range from antique dealers looking for a hidden gem to low-income residents who need to stretch their dollars when shopping.

“Our typical customer is a homeowner looking to pick up a bargain,” he said. “They can come in here and find things of good quality at a much lower cost than buying it new. We have a lot of do-it-yourselfers.”

And the start of school, particularly with college students looking to furnish dorm rooms and apartments, has helped move a great deal of stock in recent weeks.

“Kids are moving into an apartment and sometimes their parents are footing the bill,” he said. “They come here and know they will get quality furniture that they can knock around for a year or two.”

In some cases, large items can be picked up or delivered.

Volunteer Kevin McCabe said Habitat for Humanity has 900 such stores.

“But this is the only one in New York City,” he said. “It’s also one of the smallest.”

“But from a small space, we do big things,” Lublinkhof said.

First, the site, at 62-01 Northern Blvd. is located near the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway, plus other major roadways.

Woodside and its neighbors also appear to have been deliberately chosen by Habitat’s real estate experts.

“We’re right next to Astoria,” Lublinkhof said. “We’re next to Jackson Heights. We’re next to Elmhurst. They are residential neighborhoods. There’s a lot of traffic. That means a good source of foot traffic, a good source of donors and a good source of volunteers, three things that are essential to us.”

He said the store has benefits for the city as well.

“One of our studies showed houses in the city can generate one ton of trash a year,” he said. “We estimate that through donations, we might save 50 tons a year by taking things that otherwise might be put out to the curb and wind up in a landfill. It gives people bargains, keeps stuff out of landfills and supports home building.

“That’s win-win for everybody.”

Information for those wishing to donate money or merchandise is available online at, as is assistance for those who might want to train to be a store volunteer.

Lublinkhof said he would love someday to have Habitat for Humanity’s most famous volunteer, former President Jimmy Carter, stop by the store.

Carter and his wife, Roselynn, through the Jimmy Carter Work Project, have worked alongside Habitat for Humanity for 30 years, including on projects in Queens.

“I met him after Hurricane Katrina when the Carter Work Project was in Biloxi, Miss.,” Lubkinkhof said. “There was nothing he wouldn’t do. Someone on the project was installing a toilet wrong and he told them to get out of the way so he could show them. He didn’t consider anything beneath him.”