Niall uses experience to aid charity project

Niall McConkey unloads items for the kitchen department at ReStore.
Niall McConkey unloads items for the kitchen department at ReStore.
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The former owner of one of Ballyclare’s oldest family businesses is enjoying a new challenge with Christian charity Habitat for Humanity.

Niall McConkey took on a new role with the organisation last year, and is now responsible for managing the charity’s ReStore shop in Lisburn - the first outlet of its kind anywhere in Europe.

Mr McConkey ran the Woodsides department store in Ballyclare - a business started by his parents Herbie and Elizabeth McConkey in 1972 - until it went into administration in October 2011.

Since leaving the stresses and strains of running his own business behind, the Doagh man has been busy helping Habitat bring its ReStore brand, which already operates successfully in the USA and Canada, to Europe.

Habitat ReStore is a low cost DIY store selling donated new and used home improvement materials such as kitchens, plumbing supplies and building products at a fraction of the retail price.

The money made through the ReStore outlets helps to pay for house building projects for vulnerable families living in poverty in the developing world.

The 45-year-old says he’s really enjoying the challenge of his new role - not just managing the ReStore in Lisburn, but drawing up the policies and procedures to help Habitat expand its ReStore initiative and open more stores in the UK, Ireland and across Europe.

“It’s very different to what I was doing before. Most of the workers are volunteers and everything is donated so it’s a bit different to all the buying and selling I was used to,” Mr McConkey told the Times.

“But the skills I’ve picked up over the last 25 years in Woodsides are standing me in good stead for this challenge.

“During my time running Woodsides and building up the business I learnt all the skills that I need to do this job for Habitat, and as a Christian I believe that God has me in the right place,” he added.

ReStore, which opened six months ago in Lisburn’s Riverside Centre, is proving popular with bargain hunters, with footfall and sales increasing week on week.

For more information about ReStore call 9263 5642.