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Where: Northeast Park Hill
Go For: Huge savings on pieces you can add your own personal, DIY twist to. You’ll knock one more thing off your reno to-do list and score some karma points for helping Bud’s in its goal to lift up struggling Denverites through employment.
5280 Pick: Bud’s, with help from its sister store next door, New Beginnings Custom Woodworks, is creating handmade beauties like this 15-piece cabinetry set, made of knotty alder, with soft-close European hinges. The light color is perfect for brightening up your kitchen. $3,000
Calling all DIYers: We just found your new mecca. Bud’s Warehouse is a treasure trove for high-quality blank-slate pieces like cabinets, chairs, doors, sinks, lights, and more. The 21-year-old nonprofit has become a Denver staple for not only purchasing home goods and fixtures at ridiculously discounted prices—think 50 to 75 percent off retail—but also as a donation station for any gently used furniture left over from your move or remodel. (Quick tip: If you park on the side facing I-70, keep walking around the building, through the chain link fence, and you’ll reach the giant doors that mark the entrance.)
As you explore Bud’s winding aisles, which are stuffed to the brim with remodeling essentials such as paint, mirrors, carpet, and even bug spray, don’t expect an old man named Bud with a passion for furniture to pop out from around the next corner. “Bud’s” is actually an acronym for and reminder of the company’s job-training program: Building Unity and Dignity through Service. Bud’s focuses on hiring those who may have challenges finding employment elsewhere due to things like lifestyle circumstances, felonies, and gaps in employment and then teaches them valuable skills so they can pursue future career opportunities. The program offers daily check-ins and weekly case-management meetings and classes to keep employees inspired and supported as they attempt to rise above poverty, homelessness, and/or lack of experience.
We sat down with Bud’s director of operations, Josh Mahler, and donation coordinator Angellynne Delgado to chat about Bud’s mission, the impact of social media on the DIY scene, and their vision for Bud’s future.
5280: Tell me about the origins of Bud’s Warehouse.
Josh Mahler: Bud’s doesn’t really have a straightforward story. It was more of an organic thing that just continued to grow and bloom. I know that local pastors and businessmen were at the forefront of getting Bud’s started, and they really just wanted to find ways to create jobs for folks who have barriers to employment. That’s always been at the heart of Bud’s Warehouse. So Bud’s was the first thing that was started, and from it we have formed an umbrella organization called Belay Enterprises. Belay’s entire mission is to create business ventures that will specifically hire individuals with barriers to employment. So over the last 21 years, Bud’s is one of multiple projects Belay has launched. It has created a bit of a legacy in the city.
Angellynne Delgado: And Belay’s name is a perfect example for what we stand for.
Mahler: A belay is used to secure rock climbers and help them up. So we teach others self-sufficiency and then act those same lessons out in our business model because we create businesses and employees that become self-sufficient.
Tell me about that training process for employees.
Mahler: Everyone we hire out on the floor is going through our job-training program. So we tell people when we hire them that this isn’t a clock-in, clock-out, get your paycheck, and go home job. That’s not what we’re doing here. We check in with everybody and have weekly meetings, financial-planning assistance, curriculum, etc. We offer a lot more supportive services than any other job. We don’t hire the most polished, experienced person. We hire the exact opposite—someone who just wants to get back on their feet, really. If they’re motivated to turn their life around, that’s who we look for at Bud’s. Bud’s hires everyone—people coming out of homelessness, people coming out of recovery (both alcohol and drugs), people coming out of prison…anyone who otherwise would have a challenge somewhere else.
Delgado: It’s not that we just care about you as an employee. No, we care about you as a person outside of work. We ask, “How did you get to work?” “How are you planning to get home from work?” “Where are you going to be when you leave here?” We have food as well for the guys who can’t bring lunch. They might’ve gotten served at the shelter this morning, but they’ll be here with no money and no place to eat. So we started a pantry so they can eat here.
What’s the best kind of customer for Bud’s?
Delgado: Thanks to Pinterest and the social media stuff, we get a lot of people with all these ideas for DIY projects. They come in, with their phones already out, and they say, “I saw this. I want to make this.” Then they’re browsing and getting so many more ideas. I’m always encouraging people, especially our regulars, to send me pictures of their great projects. We get so many in and we will upload them to our page or Facebook because we know these people can really make some great stuff.
Mahler: Our Facebook is really fun because we can not only show off what we have in our store but also show people how to use something. We’ve done video demonstrations and posted a lot of success stories.
With spring coming up, we are getting into the heat of DIY season. Are there any trends you see popping up?
Delgado: People have been coming for patio stuff like tables and chairs. Also fire pits are getting popular, and they are so great. People have been focusing on the outdoor stuff.
Mahler: There is also a lot of landscaping work being done this time of year, so people are coming in for lawn and garden inspiration.
There have been rumors of a new location for Bud’s. Can you talk about that a bit?
Mahler: We are just kind of keeping our mind and eyes open to all potential spots. Personally, I feel that we need to be in more of a retail location just because the way people shop has changed. Ten years ago, people didn’t mind going to warehouse spots because they were just out and about. Consumers are now picky about their time and where they go, and they can get a lot of it online. So if they’re going to be out, they kind of want it all to be in one spot. Driving out to this part of Denver is not as convenient or even practical as it used to be. If we can put ourselves somewhere where people can get to us and want to get to us, that’ll be huge.
What makes Bud’s worth the trip?
Delgado: The unexpected treasures. You never know what you’re going to find when you come here. I like the diversity of products—windows, doors, toilets, fixtures, everything. If you’ve got multiple projects, bring in your measurements for all of it because you don’t know what you’ll find. It’s like an endless treasure hunt. A donation can show up while you’re looking around.
Mahler: We have regulars who have gotten savvy enough to know when our donation truck stops by; they’re here waiting around for the truck to show up and the new merchandise to come out. Just getting the initial savings as well makes it worth it. Start here. The money you save makes it worth the drive.
Delgado: I agree; see what you can get here, and what you don’t get, try for again next week. Also, when you can give to nonprofits, that’s wonderful—but if you can shop at a nonprofit, that’s even better. It’s like you get to give twice.
Bud’s Warehouse, 4455 E. 46th Ave., 303-296-3990, budswarehouse.org