Serving Berthoud – ReStore manager Sharon Derstine
By Shelley Widhalm
For Sharon Derstine, managing the Berthoud Habitat ReStore is like experiencing Christmas every day.
“You never know what’s coming in the back door and what you’ll see,” said Derstine, a Berthoud resident since 1982. “You don’t know what someone is going to donate.”
Derstine, manager of the Berthoud ReStore since she founded it in July 2005, handles traditional managerial tasks as she oversees the store, plus she works in the clothing, book and jewelry departments. The store at 157 Mountain Ave. sells donated items to help fund the building of affordable homes by Berthoud Habitat for Humanity.
“I don’t like sitting in an office. I definitely stay busy with a couple of different departments,” she said.
Clothing is the store’s biggest seller and goes through three checkpoints for condition and salability, plus is displayed according to season. The first checkpoint is an original sorting when the clothing comes in as donations and a decision is made as to what to keep and what to recycle. Second, there is a review when the clothes are placed on hangers, followed by a final review when the clothing is put on the floor.
“We have quality clothing to begin with,” Derstine said, adding that with some types of clothing, the Berthoud ReStore doesn’t have much competition, such as children’s and men’s. “We kind of have a market here on clothing.”
The store’s next two big sellers are housewares and furniture and with the variety of offerings is more like a “mini Walmart,” Derstine commented.
Derstine brought her experience in retail to the ReStore. She ran an art studio for several years before opening an antique shop, Sharon’s, which she operated from 1998 to 2004. She also uses her degree, which is in home economics with a minor in art.
“My interests were always in design and designing, that type of thing,” Derstine said. “I think it shows off in the store in how it’s organized. … If you do good displays, people buy the stuff.”
Derstine started the store when she was approached by Berthoud Habitat, which sought another income stream to be able to build more homes for Berthoud families. The store has achieved that, bringing in enough to build 1 ½ houses over the last few years. In 2018, the store provided more than $230,000 after expenses to the Habitat affiliate and more than $200,000 the two previous years. The amount for 2019 has not yet been tallied but is expected to be slightly lower due to changes in tax-deductible donations.
“I assume with the building in town and what’s going on we will be back up in no time at all,” she said.
During the store’s first six months of operation, Derstine didn’t take a salary.
“When I started, we had no idea the ReStore would take off here,” she said. “When I opened it, it was just me and some volunteers that would come in and help out.”
The store originally operated out of the former Berthoud Masonic Lodge for five years until it outgrew the space. Berthoud Habitat decided to build a new 10,000 square-foot building at Mountain Avenue and Second Street, saving expenses over leasing.
“I love the fact we have this in the community,” Derstine said. “We’re doing something wonderful for the community, building houses. That makes you feel good at the end of the day.”
Derstine also commented that she loves the store’s atmosphere.
“We have a bright, cheerful store,” she said. “We really make a strong effort to have an exceptional ReStore. … Consistency is the main thing where we need a good team that knows what they’re doing, is responsible and has pride.”
The ReStore has a staff of eight supplemented with volunteers—during the fourth quarter of 2019, for instance, there were 31 regular volunteers who put in 1,110 volunteer hours. The volunteers include members of the community, plus court-appointed volunteers providing community service.
“She comes with a positive attitude every day to work. She’s open-minded. She allows us to bring ideas to the store and implement them and lets us do our own thing as far as the different departments,” said Mike Bowen of Johnstown, assistant manager at the Berthoud ReStore. “What she has built here since 2005 is almost beyond words. It’s phenomenal.”
The store operates smoothly, mainly attributed to the fact of it being under the same management, Derstine said.
“We have consistency here and consistent policies on how we want things done. Everything flows very smoothly.”
Derstine’s management philosophy is to provide proper training so that things like micromanaging are not needed.
“If you’re going to do a job have fun at it and enjoy it,” she said. “Enjoy your employees. And I do. I enjoy the fact they are like family to me. … I love the fact we have incredible people that come in every day and have a smile on their faces and enjoy their jobs. For me, it’s just fun. I love this job.”
Derstine, who has three adult children and four grandchildren, also has a cat named Charlie. She loves to read, garden, decorate and used to love antiquing but by being at the ReStore, she gets enough of that, she said.
“Now that I’m in the ReStore business, that’s what it’s like most every day,” Derstine said.
The Berthoud ReStore is open 10 a.m.-5:30 p.m. Tuesday to Saturday and has late hours to 7 p.m. on Thursdays.
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