Open for Business, Again
There's renewed optimism in the country after the elections, and we at Materials Matter are sharing in that optimism. We finally signed a new lease and have opened our doors again. Yeah!!! In early September, after four years of operating our Home Improvement Outlet -- the retail end of our operation – out of Corona, California, we very suddenly had to pack up and seek new digs due to events entirely out of our control. As a result, these past three months have been rough for us.
But we remain determined to continue our mission: to help provide housing for those who need it and keep as much salvageable material out of the landfills as possible. Since we set up shop in 2004, we have distributed over $4 million in materials to nonprofit organizations, such as Habitat for Humanity, for building and renovating affordable shelter housing. We have recycled over 75 million pounds of good, usable materials headed for landfills. We have touched the lives of thousands of people in need from all walks of life: low income families, veterans, battered women and children, children with life threatening disease, autistic children, the elderly, and many more. We are extremely proud of the work we’ve done, and are excited and thankful every day that we can continue to do what we do.
Since we’ve moved, each day brings new challenges, especially financial ones. The move itself cost us roughly $25,000 (trucks, extra workers, gas, storage, legal fees) and there are also many costs associated with opening a new location. And, because the Home Improvement Outlet was forced to temporarily close its doors for two months, we lost about $100,000 in revenues. Those revenues are critical for us, as they pay for the costs of running our charitable programs. Altogether, we estimate losing over $175,000 because of what we went through, and we still are not earning what we would have if none of this ever happened. We have a lot of start up charges that we didn’t count on too: deposits, signage, racking, damaged merchandise, advertising, etc. It’s been a difficult time, and it obviously doesn’t help that the country is reeling along with us.
Another challenge is getting the word out about our new location. Since we’ve relocated to a new city, and because we had to abandon our other facility so quickly, many people don’t really know where we are. So, in a way, it’s as if we’ve had to start over.
But during these tough economic times, I think we’re actually part of the solution, rather than a victim of circumstances. It seems that everyone, no matter what their financial status, is looking to save money wherever they can. Also, with the housing market the way it is, many people are staying in their homes. So they are making upgrades to preserve or increase the equity and make their homes nicer to live in. This is where our Home Improvement Outlet offers help -- people can purchase amazing quality items at 40%-80% off retail. With this in mind, we think we can survive through the economic crisis. We’ve always prided ourselves on being almost 100% self-sustaining. Right now, however, we really need money to get us through this rough patch and it’s hard for people to give – even small amounts. Everybody is hurting. So, we’re feeling the crunch, it just affects us in a different way.
We are so thrilled for everyone to get a glimpse into our world – who we are, what we do, and how we make a difference, or so we hope. We were honored to be profiled and filmed by NOW on PBS. We were humbled and excited to have won the Project Enterprise contest because it validated what we were doing and why. So many times you just get lost in what you’re doing and forget about why you’re doing it. To have the NOW crew come in and really want to understand who we are and what we do was a great experience. Everyone was so wonderful and easy to work with. They spent a lot of time talking to us and had such a desire to learn more about us.
We see the light at the end of the tunnel, and hope that things are starting to turn around. We love our new location and hope that eventually we can bring in a lot more money so that we can double and triple the amount of materials we can provide for affordable and transitional housing. The nonprofits we work with are all suffering right now. And these days, people need help more than ever.
** Our new location is at 23351 Avenida de la Carlota in Laguna Hills, CA 92653. Our new phone number is 949-421-3800.