We're investigating claims of price gouging after the Halloween floods at the Oneida County Habitat ReStore in Utica.

Homeowners hardest-hit by the flooding that hit Central New York are in desperate need of help and are looking to replace items lost when water swept through their homes. Some have turned to second-hand stores, hoping to save a few dollars.

We were contacted by a few people who suggested one of those stores, Oneida County Habitat ReStore, is engaging in 'price-gouging'. Critics suggest ReStore has raised prices on it's furniture since the flood, hoping to make a bigger profit selling the donated furniture.

Kim DeMetro says she shops at ReStore often, and says "last week the prices were half of what they were yesterday…..you can see all the new price tags on the items."

On Facebook, Mark Barrows says he also noted the price increase.

These are serious allegations against an organization that relies on donations to have items to sell.

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We decided to investigate. First, we checked out the prices on some items that were posted on the Habitat ReStore Facebook page prior to the flood so that we could compare the current prices.

When we visited the store, we spoke to Louis LaBella, the President and CEO. He explained the store relies on the community and volunteers for donations. Money raised from the sale of the items in the store goes to provide "decent, affordable housing for the disabled, seniors and veterans."

LaBella assured us there have been no increases in prices since the Halloween flooding. "Items have been flying out the door since the flood," he added.

We looked for prices on the items we saw posted on Facebook before the flood. There was no increase. The prices were the same.

Credit: Oneida County Habitat ReStore/Polly McAdams TSM
Credit: Oneida County Habitat ReStore/Polly McAdams TSM
Credit: Oneida County Habitat ReStore/Polly McAdams TSM

In spite of complaints, our investigation reveals there has been no price-gouging at the Oneida County Habitat ReStore.