LANCASTER – The city will have another furniture store when the Furniture Bank of Central Ohio opens Tuesday in the Plaza Shopping Center. But this is not the typical furniture store.
Instead, the Furniture Bank is a non-profit organization whose mission is to provide furniture for the needy. It partners with faith-based and other non-profit organizations, and will be located in the former Carnival Foods building at 1215 N. Memorial Drive.
“We have in central Ohio literally hundreds of children who sleep on the floor every night that don’t have a mattress,” President and CEO Steve Votaw said. “We have folks who have no sofa to sit on, no table to eat on. And that’s an all-too-common occurrence. Yet we throw away tons and tons of furniture every year in landfills.”
He said the Furniture Bank’s mission is to turn an empty house into a home of hope by providing furniture and necessities to those who need them.
“We all know that our home is our refuge,” Votaw said. “So our hope is that we can collect enough furniture to help those families in need.”
The organization is headquartered in Columbus and has a store there. The local store will be it’s first outside of Columbus.
The Furniture Bank started about 20 years ago and helps approximately 3,200 to 3,400 families each year in Franklin County. But it wants to help those located outside of Franklin County, thus the move to Fairfield County.
The store will also sell some household items, but it will primarily sell furniture. It is open to the public, meaning anyone can buy furniture there. But those needing furniture donations must go through a non-profit or faith-based group.
The Furniture Bank mainly takes in donated furniture from a variety of sources, including private individuals, universities and other retail outlets. It then sells some of the furniture at discounted prices, along with giving some to those in need.
For example, out of 100 pieces of furniture it acquires, 70 may go to the needy and the rest to the organization’s retail stores. The money it makes from the sales goes back into the business to further help needy families.
“We think that this model that we’re putting together in Lancaster could be a national model for other mid-sized communities across the country,” Votaw said. “We know that poverty along the Appalachian corridor is pretty significant. So we wanted to reach out and try to serve families in that area. We want to see if we can make this model work so that other communities could do the same thing.”
He said if the Lancaster store is successful, the organization may open stores in places like Newark, Chillicothe, or Springfield.
“They too have a tremendous amount of poverty,” Votaw said. “And kids are asleep on the floor. Again, in our country we throw away so much furniture. It’s crazy, especially when there’s so much need.”
Those wanting to donate furniture to the Furniture Bank of Central Ohio can schedule a pickup by calling 614-545-3839 or visiting www.furniturebankcoh.org.
The Lancaster store will be open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday and from noon to 6 p.m. Sunday. It is closed on Mondays.