October 2, 2019
Our Towns Habitat ReStore is a perfect place for volunteer Andrea Hartley to put all of her skills and talents to work.
Andrea initially visited the ReStore as a shopper, first at the Cornelius ReStore to shop for furniture for her nursery, and then at the Mooresville ReStore for miscellaneous reasons.
One day while shopping, Andrea was approached by the manager, who had noticed her good eye and creative style, and asked her to participate in the ReStore’s design challenge. As a new stay-at-home mom with time on her hands, Andrea accepted and entered her first design challenge. She competed against seven other designers, who were each provided a 10’x10’ space to decorate with things bought from the ReStore.
The design challenges gave Andrea a chance to showcase her talents and meet other people with similar interests. During Andrea’s second design challenge, she met the owner of Davidson’s Rumor Mill, a market that sells the artwork and products of many local artisans, who offered her the opportunity to sell her products at the market.
With a background in construction and some retail experience, these design challenges—and her eventual volunteer work in the Mooresville ReStore—allowed Andrea to draw on all of her areas of interest. “This is the one place all of my skills come together—retail, construction and my love for junk!”
Since the design challenges, Andrea has helped with silent auctions, repurposing furniture and fixing things around the ReStore. She is always working on projects—picking out “well-loved” pieces that are overlooked and trying to make them into something usable and beautiful. Her upcycling started in college, when instead of going from store to store searching for the perfect piece at a good price, she would just make it herself.
For the ReStore, Andrea has put this talent to great use. She has done a wide span of projects, from repurposing filing cabinets, to upcycling a screen printing table, to repainting couches, to turning a $25 wood-frame sofa into a swing valued at $250.
Not only does Andrea work on pieces “behind the scenes,” she also writes do-it-yourself blog articles for Our Towns Habitat to inspire others to join in the upcycling. She has even done a couple news spots, during one of which she showed how to chalk paint end tables. People were calling in about the tables before she had even completed them!
Andrea has only been volunteering with the Mooresville ReStore since September, but she feels that the experience has already given her so much. The ReStore became an unexpected but pivotal part of Andrea’s life.
“One comment, one suggestion, changed my whole life path. I hope I can do that for someone else,” Andrea said. “If it weren’t for ReStore, I wouldn’t be doing what I’m doing.”