New Habitat for Humanity Restore could give Basalt an economic boost
Downtown Basalt will get a surprise economic boost this spring when Habitat for Humanity Roaring Fork opens a ReStore in the 18,000-square-foot space most recently occupied by Clark’s Market.
The store will feature furnishings donated by Aspen-area lodges and homeowners when they undertake remodels, according to Scott Gilbert, president of the Habitat chapter. He said the store will attract people to Basalt, based on the performance of existing stores in Glenwood Springs.
“We have several thousand unique customers in a year,” Gilbert said. “We get people from all over.”
The chance to score slightly used couches, beds, dressers, coffee tables and myriad other furnishings is a popular draw for people throughout the region, according to Gilbert. Many items are sold for 10 to 20 cents on the dollar, he said.
Habitat operates one ReStore by Lowe’s in West Glenwood Springs and another on Highway 82 between Glenwood and Carbondale. The Roaring Fork chapter’s stores are among the top 10 grossing ReStores in the country, according to Gilbert.
“We’ve never had a problem getting people to our stores,” he said.
Gilbert said the goal will be to have the ReStore open Sundays so shoppers can interact with the nearby farmers market less than a block away throughout the summer. That could produce some instant vitality, he said.
Habitat will start finishing the space it needs in March. The goal is to open the store by April 1. The store has a two-year lease from the owners, Frank Taverna, of Carbondale, and a partner. It’s been vacant since Clark’s Market moved out in June.
The ReStore is the latest in a series of projects in Basalt that could spur the economy. A 110-room hotel is being constructed at Willits Town Center. The Rocky Mountain Institute is building an innovation center and office building along Two Rivers Road just west of downtown. Lowe Enterprises, a development firm with a long record in Aspen, is preparing a proposal for a hotel just east of that site.
A ReStore might not be as sexy as the other projects, but news of its opening was welcomed by civic leaders.
“I think it sounds great to have one of the most awesome nonprofits right in the middle of town,” Mayor Jacque Whitsitt said.
She expects it will draw people into town and create opportunities for other shops and restaurants. She noted that people have been “fretting” over the fate of that space for some time.
“I hope people see it as a step in the right direction,” Whitsitt said.
Cathy Click, co-owner of Cafe Bernard in downtown Basalt, welcomed the news of the ReStore and called it “kind of the perfect fit.” Shoppers can check out Heirlooms and other thrift stores while also visiting the ReStore, she said.
“We have some choices and some options available,” Click said.
Click is president of the Downtown Basalt Business Association, but she said she was speaking for herself, not the organization.
She said a space as large as the former grocery-store site has a limited pool of possible tenants, so Basalt is fortunate to attract one. It’s good that the space won’t sit empty any longer, Click said.
Gilbert said the opening of the ReStore in downtown Basalt benefits the town in the form of bigger sales tax receipts, benefits Habitat for Humanity because it gains a large space to display and store its merchandise and benefits some of Habitat’s Roaring Fork Valley customers because they won’t have as far to drive.
He said it won’t take long to fill the 18,000-square-foot space. He called it the “garage factor.”
“You get space, you fill it,” he said.
New inventory will be spread around the ReStore sites in the valley.
Habitat wanted to locate to downtown Basalt rather than Willits Town Center, which has become the town’s dominant commercial core. While the visibility isn’t as great downtown, the site comes with a parking lot.
Gilbert said he looked at it as a chance to help bring vitality to downtown. Habitat for Humanity had previously teamed with the town government to come up with a plan to build a Habitat house on Homestead Drive. Groundbreaking will be this spring.
“If we weren’t doing a home in Basalt, (the ReStore) wouldn’t make as much sense,” Gilbert said.
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