How many of us can say we’ve ever found a gold tooth while digging through the hardware department at The RE Store? Truthfully, there aren’t many of us. But for Tim, who insists that no two days at work are ever the same, that statement is true. Last week, Tim O’Donnell, celebrated a decade of working at The RE Store. We caught up with Tim to get a glimpse of his time over the last ten years.
What’s been your role at The RE Store?
I’ve done nearly every job. I started as retail store staff then became the Receiving Coordinator before moving into the role of General Manager. I’ve also contributed as an honorary salvage crew member, Instagrammer, fill-in Director, and builder in the Revision Division shop. My favorite role so far has been the Program Development Manager, my current title, where I have faced many new challenges. I developed and launched the Manufacturing Waste Diversion program which has strengthened community partnerships, brought unique material to the RE Store, and produced a number of value-added furnishings.
What draws you to The RE Store?
Raised by a northwest historian and garage sale junkie, I’ve always had a deep appreciation for architectural artifacts and vintage oddities. I get satisfaction knowing that I’ve helped so many customers find just the right window, door, light fixture, escutcheon, or even a set screw for their restoration project. The RE Store is an institution within our community and I love keeping its wheels turning.
What’s been your favorite aspect of working at The RE Store?
I’ve learned so much from fellow staff and customers over the years. I absorbed as much RE Store knowledge as possible from Jeff Masson and David Spangler while they were still with the organization. With a few of David’s tornado processing techniques under my belt, I once cleared the entire donation room of material. Jeff’s creative and whimsical fixtures throughout the store have fueled my inspiration for reuse over the years. Another big shout out goes to Kurt Gisclair, our director, for his continuous support and coaching through all the challenges and successes we’ve faced together.
What has been one of your challenges working at The RE Store?
I’m notorious for being a yes person. I try and accept as much donated building material as possible, but sometimes for one reason or another, we just can’t take an item. One day I had a customer wanting to donate some painted, delaminating hollow-core doors. Our inventory in this department was overflowing and these doors would not be in high demand but I still wanted to keep them out of the landfill. Caught in the awkwardness of donation purgatory I thought, “I need a sign.” Just then, a flock of birds flew overhead and pooped all over us — all over the customer, all over me, and all over the closet doors. I had to pass on that donation.
What’s the weirdest donation you’ve ever seen?
One year while cleaning the hardware department I found a gold tooth. Another favorite donation was a popcorn vending machine shaped like a robot, complete with “beep, boop” sound effects. We loaded it with kernels and flipped the switch, only to be rewarded with the aroma of burning popcorn.
Any fun RE Store facts you’d like to shed light on?
For a few years, you may have heard my voice on the radio talking up the RE Store. Aside from my short-lived radio career, there was that one time I filled in to help the field crew with a kitchen cabinet salvage. It ended up being a “kitten” cabinet salvage. We rescued the cabinets along with two cute tabby kittens that became the store cats we all know as Wayne and Saul.