Greener BeeGreen LivingLiving Green: Older theater sees new life as ReStore

Kathryn McKenzie -- ContributedSome items are donated by homeowners or contractors, while others are from local hardware stores cleaning out their inventory.

Kathryn McKenzie — Contributed
Some items are donated by homeowners or contractors, while others are from local hardware stores cleaning out their inventory.

Reusing and recycling is an easy thing to do — unless you’re talking about a long-closed building on the former Fort Ord. But now, this building is coming back to useful life after being closed for more than 20 years — as a fund-raising store for Habitat for Humanity.

You may remember that Monterey County Habitat for Humanity used to have a ReStore, full of wonderful donated items, but the group shut it down more than two years ago. The nonprofit dedicated to affordable housing been working ever since to open a bigger, better ReStore inside the former Barker Theater at Fort Ord.

It’s taken two years, but the ReStore finally had its grand opening Thursday. It’s at 4230 Gigling Road, on the same shopping strip as the PX. Although the new sign out front reads “Habitat for Humanity ReStore,” it will continue to bear the name Barker Theater, according to Carol Coates, vice president of Monterey County Habitat for Humanity.

The one-time movie theater was named for PFC Charles H. Barker, a Medal of Honor recipient who died during the Korean War, and the plaque honoring him on the front of the building also will remain, she said.

Readying the building for the ReStore was no easy task. First of all, filling out paperwork, negotiating with the U.S. Army for use of the building and getting approval from a variety of agencies was a lengthy process that took months, Coates said.

When Habitat first came in, Coates said, “There was no power and none of the water systems worked. The toilets were in bad shape. We had to revive all the plumbing.”

The renovation — which involved taking out 1,000 theater seats, curtain and screen, bringing the building up to code, and adding LED lighting and solar panels — took another year.

“There were many kind and generous volunteers who helped us,” Coates noted.

But now, the 16,000-square-foot building is open for business, Thursday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

What’s so great about the ReStore? It’s a place where you can buy all kinds of things for your home, from windows to doors to furniture to appliances, for a fraction of what you would pay for it from a retail store.

Some items are donated by homeowners or contractors, while others are from local hardware stores cleaning out their inventory. There are items that were never used, such as the huge stainless steel countertop that Coates showed me, or gently used, such as custom cabinetry that was removed for a remodel.

The two-level store has furniture and lighting on the upper part, where the entrance is, and everything else on the lower level. The hardware section alone rivals anything you’d see at a typical hardware store, with everything neatly arranged and displayed under the watchful eye of manager Calvin Otis, former assistant manager at the Santa Cruz Habitat for Humanity ReStore.

It’s a wonderful way to reuse and repurpose these elements, which would otherwise have to go into the landfill. It’s also a way to support Habitat for Humanity, which builds and renovates affordable housing for people in this area. (Incidentally, the Santa Cruz and Monterey County branches of Habitat recently merged and the single entity is called Habitat for Humanity Monterey Bay.)

If you’re looking for that special piece to integrate into your own home design, or just want to take a peek, check it out. You can find more information online at or by calling 831-272-4830.

“We’re thrilled to take it over. … Every person we’ve talked to (with the Army) has been supportive,” said Coates.

Do you have questions or tips about sustainable living around the Central Coast? Send them to Kathryn McKenzie at Follow Kathryn McKenzie at

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