While it is a department of the Rose Rock Habitat for Humanity affiliate, the Habitat ReStore has built a life of its own in Norman. The move to a new location and opening of the ReStore were announced in the August 21 edition of The Oklahoman in the year 2000. At the time it was portrayed by the paper as a way to help the city of Norman by reducing the city’s landfill requirements. The Cleveland County Habitat for Humanity ReStore was only the 3rd of its kind in Oklahoma, following efforts by locations in Oklahoma City and Tulsa and their respective Habitat affiliates. At the time, Public Relations Coordinator Judy Madden was optimistic about the opening of the new store, “We’ve got the products to go into it. We need to get the shelving up and get organized and we’ll be ready for business.”
The opening wasn’t without missteps, however. In September of the same year, The Oklahoman announced that the affiliate office’s move to the new location would be delayed by two weeks. While initially it was thought that a delay of the October 1st opening of the ReStore could be avoided, the grand opening was not held until November 19th, 2000—over a month and a half later than predicted. In its infancy the ReStore operated only on Saturdays from 9am to 4pm.
For its history, the ReStore has taken part in programs that generate employment opportunities for vulnerable populations. In 2010, Habitat had 2 workers working as part of the Experience Works program with Oklahoma Workforce Investment. This program found employment for seniors whose pensions or social security weren’t cutting it when paying their bills. Other partnerships that the ReStore took part in include HIRE through Moore Norman Technology Center, which offers trade school and on the job training to TANF recipients, and SPICE through Norman Public Schools, which helps students with developmental or intellectual disabilities develop social and occupational skills. The ReStore still engages with these programs.
Relentless growth caused by overwhelming public support was one of the reasons the affiliate decided to move to its current location in 2015. The original location of the ReStore lacked several amenities that Habitat for Humanity International recommended, including parking and heating & air conditioning.
Speaking of the recommendations by HFHI, ReStore Manager Mike Jenkins reflected, “They said, ‘If your ReStore has none of these amenities, you should probably move.’ I was checking off the list and thought, ‘That’s our store. We need to move.’”
The current location, at 24,000 square feet, dwarfs the original location’s size of 5,000 square feet at its opening. Notable Oklahoma Artist Skip Hill graced the north side of the building at the new location with a large mural, made in his inimitable vibrant aesthetic. Skip Hill was featured on the OETA series Gallery America and has art which appears in collections and public spaces worldwide.
The most recent development from within the ReStore has been the Upcycle Center—a department that focuses on taking old, outdated, or unfashionable home furnishings and gives them new life. The idea came from a desire to give pieces that had been sitting on the sales floor for a long time another chance to go home with a ReStore customer rather than sending them to the landfill. Sometimes a piece simply needs a coat of paint, other times a complete transformation is in order. The ReStore Upcycle center is indicative of the commitment the ReStore has to reducing waste, and the stewardship with which it uses all the donations it receives.
The Future of Rose Rock Habitat for Humanity
Rose Rock Habitat is currently constructing three homes: two in southeast Norman and one in Noble. The two homes in Norman are a dual build with the support of Oklahoma Natural Gas. One home will be gas and electric, the other fully electric. A study will be completed to compare the utilities costs between the two. The home in Noble will be constructed using eco-friendly insulated concrete forms provided by Fox Blocks and checked for energy consumption information as well.
Rose Rock Habitat is also committed to community beautification and sustainability. The organization offers cleanup services, code compliance aid, and superficial home improvements like fence or house painting and debris removal. Rose Rock Habitat also supports Aging-in-Place, an initiative with the City of Norman that provides ramps for the mobility-impaired to enter and exit their home more easily. RRHFH is also helping to keep Norman beautiful by adopting two Norman parks including Legacy Trail in downtown Norman, with the other to be announced at a later date.
Perhaps the most important recent addition to the developing history of Rose Rock Habitat for Humanity is the expansion of the organization into Potawatomie County. In February of 2023, Rose Rock Habitat’s expansion became official. With that, RRHFH hopes to bring all of the impact and services we’re known for to more people in South Central Oklahoma.
Rose Rock Habitat for Humanity is a shining example of what can be accomplished when people come together to help others. The organization is making a real difference in the lives of low-income families in South Central Oklahoma, and it is just getting started.
Rose Rock Habitat for Humanity: Putting God’s love into action by bringing people together to build homes, community, and hope.