By Julie Lawrence Special to Published Jan 24, 2010 at 8:02 AM

Last weekend my mom called me and asked if I had any old computers or cell phones that I was looking to get rid of. I had no extra computers to speak of, but as for cell phone, yes, I had my share. I seems as though I've gotten a new phone every couple of years over the course of the last decade and I never really know what to do with the dead ones, let alone their accessories.

My mom had a solution.

She'd caught wind of a collection day in Walker's Point, so we took our "garbage" -- she had an old desk top and a giant air conditioner -- to a parking lot at the intersection of 9th and Bruce. There were bins for all your unwanted and confusing discardables, from printers, to appliances to chargers to batteries. It was great.

It turns out the drive was hosted by the nearby Community Warehouse, an affordable home improvement store. The large warehouse sells the same quality materials as, say, Home Depot or Lowe's, but the difference here is that the Community Warehouse is a non-profit organization.

Because contractors, builders, manufacturers and retailers donate their new and unused building materials, Community Warehouse is able to sell its products for about 75 percent of the normal retail value. The store's many volunteers help sort and price the goods, offering a significant discount for Milwaukee residents, residential property owners and non-profit organizations located in Milwaukee Community Development Block Grant Neighborhoods.

The goal is to provide the needed resources for rebuilding Milwaukee's lower-income communities and improve quality of life in the city as a whole.

The warehouse is well-organized and often stocked with a full range of materials, including doors, windows, carpet, sinks, bathtubs, shingles, siding, paint, hardwood flooring, tile, kitchen cabinet and more.

Executive Director George Bogdanovich and his staff say their business is about more than just providing the proper materials. It's also about providing a sense of purpose and pride in where you're living.

"The great value we offer to our members is matched by our commitment to provide everyone with dignity and respect...and by improving individual households, we hope to stimulate the redevelopment of more."

The Community Warehouse is open Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Friday from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. It's closed Sunday and Monday.


Julie Lawrence Special to staff writer Julie Lawrence grew up in Wauwatosa and has lived her whole life in the Milwaukee area.

As any “word nerd” can attest, you never know when inspiration will strike, so from a very early age Julie has rarely been seen sans pen and little notebook. At the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee it seemed only natural that she major in journalism. When offered her an avenue to combine her writing and the city she knows and loves in late 2004, she knew it was meant to be. Around the office, she answers to a plethora of nicknames, including “Lar,” (short for “Larry,” which is short for “Lawrence”) as well as the mysteriously-sourced “Bill Murray.”