More and more homeowners looking to save a buck or two on home improvement projects are discovering a not-so-secret secret: the Habitat for Humanity Home Centers.
Merchandise ranging from hardwood flooring and cabinets to toilets and paint is donated and then sold at deep discounts with proceeds benefitting the non-profit's home building program.
"A lot of the merchandise you'll find at half of retail," said Don Griffith, executive vice president of Habitat for Humanity of San Antonio.
While many of the materials are brand new, some are recycled from homes and businesses.
"It may come from private citizens and have goods left over from what they were doing or come from retailers or come from wholesalers or distribution centers," Griffith said.
For shoppers like Nando Salazar, shopping the huge warehouse is part scavenger hunt, part treasure hunt. He was buying cabinets to finish a bathroom remodel.
"It's a good alternative if you want to find an economical way to do things," he said.
Boxes stacked high with tile were priced at 69-cents a square foot. Light switches were going for 75 cents. A bathroom sink with a faucet showed $30 on the sticker.
While most of the warehouse is stocked with materials for do-it-yourselfers, there were rows of old television sets and appliances as well as brand new dining sets and bedroom furniture.
And, yes, there was even a used kitchen sink.
Shopper Mary Lou Duquette was shopping for hardware for her door.
"We have bought a lot of stuff here like tiles for a room we needed to do over," she said. "We even bought a desk for my grandson."
Griffith said he thinks people are "shocked" the first time they walk in.
"We have people come in all the time, and they are wide-eyed and looking around," Griffith said. "We have homeowners that come in. We have landlords. We see a lot of small time contractors, various trades that come in and buy from us."
For people who are wanting to donate to the stores, Habitat will send a team of workers called the Wrecking Crew to extract reusable fixtures from renovation projects.
Habitat has three home centers in San Antonio: 311 Probandt, 5482 Walzem and 8125 Meadow Leaf.