Habitat for Humanity Opens New ReStore in Harlingen

Renovated Loaves and Fishes building provides new location


Habitat for Humanity Opens New ReStore in Harlingen

ReStore Harlingen interior
Shoppers browse the selection at the new Habitat for Humanity ReStore. (photo VBR)
Wayne Lowry, executive director of Habitat for Humanity of the Rio Grande Valley (photo VBR)
Wayne Lowry, executive director of Habitat for Humanity of the Rio Grande Valley (photo VBR)

The Habitat for Humanity ReStore in Harlingen opened the doors of its new location this week in a renovated building made possible by a groundswell of community support. The building on First Street formerly housed Loaves and Fishes. It was acquired by Habitat for Humanity early this year along with the former Zarsky’s Lumber property across the street.

The eight-month inside-and-out renovation project was made possible by tens of thousands of dollars in monetary and in-kind contributions, said Wayne Lowry, executive director of the Valley Habitat for Humanity operations, as he greeted customers and local dignitaries for a grand opening celebration.

With 20,000 square feet, the building has 5,000 square feet of air-conditioned retail space. The remaining square footage serves as a warehouse. Here, donated building supplies, large furniture and other items will be available for purchase. Since January, the retail thrift shop operated out of the Zarsky building. This will now be of use for various Habitat for Humanity community services in the future.

Habitat for Humanity mascotHabitat for Humanity also operates a ReStore in McAllen. Last year the revenue from the two retail thrift store outlets grew to the point that it covers all of the organization’s expenses. This includes staff salaries.

As customers enter the new ReStore, a sign bearing the message, “Practice random acts of kindness” will greet the. This slogan’s attribution goes to Sam Sparks, owner the Progreso International Bridge and was a well-known philanthropist before his death in 2011. A $25,000 donation from the bridge company is among the monetary contributions to the renovation project.

Among the major in-kind donations was a 15-ton air-conditioning system by Central Air and Heating Services.

ReStore Harlingen exterior
The new Harlingen location of Habitat for Humanity ReStore takes over the old Loaves and Fishes. (photo VBR)

George Cox is a veteran journalist with more than 30 years experience as a newspaper writer and editor. A Corpus Christi native, he started his career as a reporter for The Brownsville Herald after graduating from Sam Houston State University with a degree in journalism. He later worked on newspapers in Laredo and Corpus Christi as well as northern California. George returned to the Valley in 1996 as editor of The Brownsville Herald and in 2001 moved to Harlingen as editor of the Valley Morning Star. He also held the position of editor and general manager for the Coastal Current, a weekly entertainment magazine with Valleywide distribution. George retired from full-time journalism in 2015 to work as a freelance writer and legal document editor. He continues to live in Harlingen where he and his wife Katherine co-founded Rio Grande Valley Therapy Pets, a nonprofit organization dedicated to raising public awareness of the benefits of therapy pets and assisting people and their pets to become registered therapy pet teams.