Updated: 02/28/2014 7:17 PM
Created: 02/28/2014 5:39 PM KAALtv.com
By: John Doetkott
(ABC 6 News) -- A national non-profit group has pulled out of Albert Lea, but officials say the bittersweet goodbye is actually a sign of better things to come.
Friday was the last day for the Habitat for Humanity ReStore in Albert Lea.
The store resells home furnishings and uses the money raised to build new homes for families in need. But with a more successful store in Austin, officials said the cost of running the Albert Lea store was simply too much.
"Having the ReStore there kind of created double the overhead, double that cost for us,” said Brigitte Campbell, executive director of the Freeborn/Mower County chapter of Habitat for Humanity. “We think that we can have an effort in Albert Lea that's maybe a little different."
That different approach will include partnering with established and emerging non-profit groups, as well as developing a stronger presence in community events.
After building a home in Lyle this fall, officials are using the money saved from the consolidation to hire a new full-time staff member as they continue to expand their mission.
"That's a sign of where we're going as an affiliate,” Campbell said. “We're growing almost faster than we can keep up with."
All of the materials not sold Friday will be transferred to the group's store in Austin, and officials know there is no shortage of need in the Freeborn/Mower County area.
"Poverty housing is a huge problem, definitely. There's been housing studies done here locally that show that it's a problem,” Campbell said. “It's a very daunting problem and not one that we think we can tackle on our own."
With plans to build a new home in both Mower and Freeborn County this summer, group organizers said things are looking up.
"We see these partnerships as a great way to help us reach more families,” Campbell said. “We'll be doing more of that in Albert Lea this summer, so we're very excited."
If you would like to get involved with Habitat for Humanity in the Freeborn/Mower County area, you can visit the group’s website by clicking on the following link: http://www.habitatfreebornmower.org/