Through a unique partnership with a free construction classifieds website, many of Habitat for Humanity's local ReStores—purveyors of new and gently used construction and home improvement materials—have established online storefronts that allow them to reach beyond their local marketplaces to sell products.
Based on the idea that it's better to sell excess building materials than to store or dump them, DiggersList.com offers a marketplace designed specifically to help construction pros sell, trade, or buy materials, tools, equipment, and appliances. Launched in fall 2009, the site operates much like Craigslist.com, providing specific portals for roughly 30 cities around the United States, so far, and with plans to grow. Anyone can create an account and post information on products and materials for sale, or search for needed materials locally or in nearby cities.
"Most contractors have what they call their "boneyard" of materials they can't bear to throw away, but can't use," says the site's CEO and co-founder Matt Knox, who estimates that 160 million tons of waste is generated annually by construction activities, which includes usable materials.
The partnership with Habitat's ReStores seemed like a natural extension of DiggersList's established functions, according to Knox. Both organizations help keep perfectly usable building products from being landfilled and offer an often more-affordable selection for do-it-yourselfers and contractors alike.
"It's amazing how much the country doesn't know about ReStores. It's like walking into a half-off home improvement store," Knox says.
Contractors interested in a product offering through one of the ReStore storefronts can e-mail the store's manager to ask questions or reserve the item, and some ReStores offer to ship products so, according to Knox, an entire transaction could be arranged and executed online.
Helping each Habitat ReStore keep its own home page current is a DiggersList widget that updates in real-time when new product offerings are posted on the ReStore's DiggersList page.