Like most folks, I like a good bargain. Plus, I like recycling stuff. Those are reasons I donate to and shop at thrift stores. In Norfolk, Nebraska, the one I like best is the Goodwill Store. The brand name is not the main reason for this preference; it’s the staff and management of the store. This is reason enough for my loyalty.
Last year, the Goodwill name became tarnished after media reports that alleged the charity had a management structure that favored regional managers over charitable works. There was a public outcry about some regional managers pulling in six-figure salaries as opposed to reports about employees in some stores earning less than minimum wage.
In response a nationwide decline in donations and shoppers hit many stores severely. Longtime, loyal patrons, myself included, pondered whether or not to continue donating and shopping at Goodwill. I decided to continue mainly because of who works at the local store and how well they have been treated over the years.
Many of the clerks at the store are more than passing acquaintances. A few of them, including the store manager have become friends. The staff/management relationship is on par with that of traditional retail stores, perhaps better.
Nearly every time I visit the store, the manager goes out of her way to greet me and exchange small talk. This past winter I missed several normal shopping days because of weather and car repair issues. The staff said they worried over my absence.
Anyway, this past week has been Goodwill Industries Week so I wanted to contribute my two-cents worth about the organization. The Goodwill members are independent entities in the U.S. and 23 other countries. Each member operates their own regional retail stores and employment programs. Two years ago, Charity Watch rated Goodwill Industries with an “A”.
An important factor about Goodwill is that they consistently attract a loyal, enthusiastic following of regular customers. Many of these customers have become entrepreneurs by buying and re-selling merchandise on eBay, Etsy, and other venues.
Another reason many of us regular customers keep coming back is the feeling of participating in a treasure hunt. It’s hard to predict just what we’ll find at the Goodwill. Last month I couldn’t resist a “Sip and Sing” Karaoke mug with a built in microphone and speaker, powered by a 9-volt battery. Just this week, I scored a miniature pool table in like-new condition. Yesterday, I picked up a couple of very nice polo shirts, one of them still has the hang tags.
Back in 2010 a friend who lives in San Francisco told me about a temporary “Pop-Up” store in the Castro District of the city. It was a short-term partnership between the Transgender Economic Empowerment Initiative and Goodwill of San Francisco. After the LGBT “Pop-Up” closed a year later, the staff was transfered to other stores in San Francisco. Yes, I was impressed.
As far as we know, the global Goodwill organization is performing its managerial “house-cleaning” and reaffirming its main mission of acting as a public charity. Plus, the Goodwill Stores in our region have been community assets wherever they’re located.