"Customer service is my heart, and I love being with people!" said Petty Blake.
Every exclamation makes that pretty obvious, and it's what makes us thrilled to have Petty on our team.
Petty first found The ReStore when she began her "rejob" search. After 20 plus years babysitting grandkids, she was a bit out of touch with the current job market: No resume, no computer skills.
"I thought you went and got a sign out of a window, and you don't nowadays," she pointed out.
Through a federal Experience Works program, Petty discovered The ReStore as a place to get job training and current work experience.
"Well, Habitat for Humanity...I didn't know a thing about it until I started here," she said. Widowed at 23 with a 5-month-old and 20-month-old, she said the families Habitat supports are very dear to her heart.
Petty is a natural fit for The ReStore. She loves talking to people and if you have a moment, she'll tell you about how she grew up working in her Dad's store.
"I was on the register, but in those days it wasn't computerized. It was just a till," she beams. "It was a boat store in the middle of the New Mexico desert. Sold more boats than anybody in the nation for every line he sold. It was the oil fields--and they had a lot of money and they didn't know what to spend it on. But the nearest water for many years until the Navajo Dam, was a hundred miles away!"
Petty shares her Dad's knack for social engagement. She thrives on the one-on-one banter with new and seasoned ReStore customers.
At the Washington County ReStore, Petty said most mornings customers are waiting outside for the doors to open - they don't want to miss a bargain. She's impressed and inspired by our customers' creative reuse ideas.
"We have men-yes, men-that come in all the time to buy things for crafts. And they go on Pinterest-a lot! And I'm so glad it's not that macho thing anymore!" she said.
Most of Petty's hours at The ReStore are spent behind the cash register or in pricing. Other times she is in a Portland Community College Fast Track class.
"They help you with your resume; they help you with your clothing," she said. "It teaches you from beginning to end, like if you have a shyness and you're scared to go out, and 'Where do I begin?' and 'What do I do?' They help you step by step. They help you with your elevator speech--anything to do with getting a job. Resume. Anything."
Weekends you'll frequently find her volunteering to man a ReStore booth at a farmers market, home expo or other special outreach event, happily sharing her enthusiasm for Habitat for Humanity and The ReStore. Oh, and then there's the days she spends at Habitat build sites. So far, including the May Women Build, Petty has put hammer to hand at the Habitat site 10-15 times.
"They give you a choice if you want to be on a framing team today, or they need some drywall done, and this and that," she said. "And me, I like to do it all 'cause I don't know a thing about any of it, and they're teaching me. That's what's great!"
Petty is pretty much constantly on the move. She loves walking whenever she can, she has taken up jewelry making, she does cross stitch, and she recently jaunted up to Seattle for a Guns N' Roses concert ("I love all kinds of music from opera to acid rock--[though]some of the lyrics I don't care for!").
Whether she's ringing up a sale, pricing smalls, cleaning a display or engaging visitors at outreach events, Petty is pleased to be part of The ReStore team.
"I love this store," she explained. "It is magnificent to see a customer come up and say, ‘Look what I found for $5!' And I'm going, 'You betcha! I know!'"