Habitat Taos ReStore: The hidden gem of the north side


Lincoln Quintana, a very happy client

“If you haven’t been to the ReStore lately, you haven’t been to the ReStore” is the new motto of the Habitat Taos ReStore, and rightly so.

Originally published in Taos News

“We have been fixing it for the last four months,” said Iris Potter, one of the store’s associates. “We have redone it totally in order to make it a friendly place for the community and an extension of every Taos home.”

The Habitat Taos ReStore, a materials recycling center and home improvement store located on the north side of town, is a major funding source for the Habitat for Humanity of Taos affiliate low-income building program.

Many people (I was among them) tend to associate the store with just building supplies, but there is a lot more to it. The ReStore sells everything, from furniture to books, toys, sporting goods, exercise equipment, and the occasional antique, all at below-retail prices.

It is quite difficult to list everything, but it should be noted that there is a vast collection of framed and unframed paintings and prints. I even found an original Lady in Blue (Maria de Agreda) painting by local artist Lloyd Rivera.

As for building supplies, there are bricks, tiles and flooring materials, doors, windows and hardware for them, plumbing and electrical supplies, lighting, and lumber.

“We often get incredible donations from lumberyards in town like Randall’s and Ace, and Alpine Lumber at Angel Fire,” said ReStore manager Tom Drake. “Last year we got many beautiful wood doors from Alpine Lumber and they were our bestsellers for the next three months.”

Appliances like refrigerators, washers and dryers are also very popular.

“Sometimes, when people move, they donate to us everything they have in the house,” Drake said. “So you can always find great deals in appliances and furniture that are sold at a fraction of their retail cost.”

There are hundreds of books as well.

“We probably have more books than any bookstore in town,” Drake said. “And we give many of them away.”

The ReStore keeps a free box that is “refreshed” every week.

“The idea is that people come here to find things they need and recycle the items they don’t use anymore,” Drake said.

The manager

Tom Drake has a Master of Arts in Planning and Community Development from the University of Colorado and had a career as an urban planner for many years. He started managing the store in June 2014 and has been instrumental in getting it revamped.

“I am very interested in recycling,” Drake said. “One of the reasons why I wanted to work here is because I see the ReStore as a place to keep useful items out of landfills. Besides selling working appliances, we recycle those that don’t work. We also recycle metal and other materials.”

A happy client: the “track light king”

Lincoln Quintana is a loyal ReStore client who visits the place at least once a month. He is also known as “the track light king.”

“I came once to buy track lights and they didn’t have any,” he said. “I came several times and nothing… So when I finally found them, I bought them all.”

Quintana said that he used to go to the store to look for “things he needed.”

“Now I see interesting things and maybe I don’t need them at this moment, but I get them anyway,” he said. “This is a cool store.”

Helping Habitat

Proceeds from the store help pay for Habitat for Humanity Taos’ home building program.

“The Habitat ReStores came into existence to try to cover all the operating expenses of the affiliate,” said Cynthia Arvidson, Habitat for Humanity of Taos Executive Director. “Our store isn’t quite at 100% of that yet, but they are well on their way.”

August was “their biggest month ever” in terms of profits—the store made around $30, 000.

“Tom has a great crew on hand that provides friendly customer service,” Arvidson said. “Our donations have tripled and he continues to beat his numbers month after month.”

“Our success is also due to the new energy we have here and the great people who are working for us,” Drake said.

Among these people is a store employee (who prefers not to be named here) that once found $900 inside an armoire donated by the Taos Retirement Village. He immediately called the Village and returned the money.

“That’s the way we operate,” Advirson said. “We couldn’t do what we do without the ReStore and our fabulous employees.”

Sidebar: Want to make a donation?

Bring the items to the ReStore during normal business hours. To schedule a pick up call (575) 776-2165. Appliances must be clean and in working order. They are accepted subject to prior inspection.

The ReStore is located at 16 State Rd. 522 (north of the Old Blinking Light)

Phone: (575) 776-2165



Tom Drake and Iris Potter