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'ReStore'ing the Community: Arliesha Lovett is the heart of the Habitat ReStore

Have you visited our Habitat ReStore, just beside the railroad tracks on Johnson Street? There you'll find not only a variety of second-hand treasures at reasonable prices but also one of the most generous and caring hearts in our community. Meet Arliesha Mikell-Lovett and hear more about her important work for Habitat.
Arliesha Mikell-Lovett at the ReStore

Spike’s Habitat ReStore is a nonprofit home improvement store and donation center that sells new and gently used furniture, appliances, home accessories, building materials, and more to the public at a fraction of the retail price. It is located at 201 Johnson Street here in Statesboro, just behind the post office downtown. The ReStore moved from its original home on Cherry Street to this location in 2016. 

Spike's ReStore at the Railroad Tracks

Our local ReStore is independently owned and operated by Habitat for Humanity of Bulloch County, and proceeds are used to help build strength, stability, self-reliance and shelter in the form of Habitat Homes for members of our community.

It was named for Georgia Southern Dean Emeritus and Professor Emeritus of Psychology Warren F. “Spike” Jones Jr., who has been instrumental in Habitat Bulloch's success. He and a group of other retired Georgia Southern professors started the ReStore in 1997.

Now more than 25 years after its inception, Arliesha Mikell-Lovett is at the helm, managing our ReStore. She's been with the store for more than 20 of those years, and upon meeting her, it's clear she is the heart and soul of the operation. Although she admittedly doesn't like the spotlight, she deserves a little bit of it!

The ribbon cutting for the current location -- Arliesha is front and center, standing hand-in-hand with Spike Jones

Mikell-Lovett says she came from a loving and hardworking family of 9, but she had a tough upbringing, losing her mother when she was still a child and then her father when she was in high school. As an adult, she lost her husband, who was paralyzed for several years preceding his death.

She says the love and support of the community and her teachers as well as her faith in God got her through, and that's what she now hopes to impart upon everyone who visits her store. To her, each person she meets at the ReStore is 'family,' and some of the best lessons in life, she says, come from ordinary people.

"My main goal is to treat people the way I want to be treated," she shared. "Everybody who walks through the doors deserves a chance, and everybody deserves to walk out with dignity."

What treasures will you find?

The ReStore offers a wide variety of furnishings, from furniture for every room to decor to building supplies to toys -- all the things that make a house a home. Everyone is welcome to walk through the many aisles to find things they need (or simply want!), and every sale benefits Habitat's mission. "It truly is a treasure hunt," Mikell-Lovett says. "You never know what you will find, and customers keep coming back."

Mikell-Lovett's favorite pieces the store offers are the kitchen tables and the bedroom furniture, though, and that's because of the deeper meaning they carry for people in need.

"Dreams come true around kitchen tables," she says. "And I hate to know anyone is sleeping on the floor."

Our ReStore makes our community brighter -- in more ways than one

In addition to shopping at below-market prices, the store provides volunteer opportunities to college students, retirees, and even those needing a second chance through community service hours. Mikell-Lovett says she knows the joy and pride of home ownership, and the ReStore operation is one big cycle of volunteers, community partners, and donors to shoppers to sales -- with the ultimate end goal of getting more people into their own homes.

"We don't turn anyone away," she shared. "Working in a non-profit, you can see people have everything and then lose it overnight. I don't look down on people; I help them. Then customers and volunteers come back and share their joy with me." 

Mikell-Lovett says she finds joy in remembering her young visitors and allowing them to choose a toy they love

Mikell-Lovett is thankful for the many helping hands that make the ReStore run, noting that she couldn't do what she does without them: "Time is more important than a dollar bill any day. It is the greatest gift."

The Walmart Distribution Center, Fostering Families, and Georgia Southern's Serve912 are all important partners for the ReStore, she says, also noting the individual dedication of her sister Mushelle Alston and Karen Lavender, among many others.

While Mikell-Lovett is always appreciative of the donations and volunteer hours that are graciously given to the ReStore, she says even if you can't donate your furniture or time, she welcomes your prayers just as much. Prayer, she says, changes things.

Beautiful glassware available for purchase

"I don't take this opportunity lightly," she says. "The people you meet bring blessings to your life, and God is always good. We give praise to God for everything we do."

Due to the demands of the job, Mikell-Lovett does end up spending precious time away from her own family, including son Nehemiah and daughter Jayla, along with her four bonus children. She says she could certainly choose to leave the ReStore and clock in and out at a 9-to-5 instead, but that's not her heart. The ReStore and its mission are.

You will always be met with a smile and an open heart at the ReStore

"I love every bit of what I do -- meeting people and changing lives on a daily basis," Mikell-Lovett says. "We do everything in our means and our hearts to keep the legacy going."

Arliesha Mikell-Lovett may consider the second-hand finds at the ReStore to be the treasure inside, but she is certainly one, too.

Shop. Donate. Volunteer.

You can shop at the ReStore on Fridays from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. and on Saturdays from 9 a.m. – 3 p.m. If you have donations to drop off, you can do so Wednesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. - 4 p.m. or call (912) 764-5777 to arrange for a pickup during those same hours. You can also call that number if you're interested in volunteering at the ReStore; leave a message for Arliesha and she will be happy to return your call.

About Habitat for Humanity of Bulloch County

Habitat for Humanity of Bulloch County is part of a global, nonprofit housing organization operated on Christian principles that seeks to put God’s love into action by building homes, communities and hope. Habitat for Humanity of Bulloch County is dedicated to eliminating substandard housing locally and worldwide through constructing homes; by advocating for fair and just housing policies; and by providing training and access to resources to help families improve their shelter conditions.

Habitat for Humanity of Bulloch County was founded on the conviction that every man, woman and child should have a simple, durable place to live in dignity and safety, and that decent shelter in decent communities should be a matter of conscience and action for all.