Goodwill, Savers Thrift Stores Find New Venues

by Robert Bell  on Monday, Aug. 9, 2010 12:00 am  

Brian Itzkowitz, president and CEO of Goodwill Industries of Arkansas, said the current retail climate has made large spaces more affordable for the nonprofit.

Goodwill has another store in the works, in addition to the west Little Rock store. The nonprofit will open a location in September in a former Harvest Foods in Bryant.

Goodwill has budgeted about $300,000 to convert the former Circuit City location into a modern thrift store. Many of these large, well-lit stores take the same basic approach as conventional retailers, with racks and shelves full of organized merchandise, fitting rooms and plenty of staff, Itzkowitz said.

A large part of Goodwill's mission is creating jobs and providing job training to people with disabilities and special needs.

"And 93 percent of our budget comes from our donated goods business," he said. "We don't get a lot of outside funding, so we count on the revenue generated by the stores to fund our programs. That's why we are aggressively growing, because certainly there is a need out there in the community, with the economy the way it is."

In 2009, Goodwill's donated goods program brought in about $10.2 million, up from $9.5 million in 2008, according to the nonprofit's annual report

The current retail climate has allowed Goodwill to be able to move into large sites that have become available, Itzkowitz said.

"It's an opportunity for us to grow, and to grow [without] impacting our balance sheet the way it would've five years ago. Because even if that [Circuit City] location would have been available, the cost on it would probably have been prohibitive at that point," he said.

"It just makes it that much more important that when you do a location like that, that it performs well. You can't mess up and you have to do it right, because you have too much invested in it for it to not do well."

Itzkowitz did not disclose the lease rates for Goodwill stores, but said the rate on the former Circuit City property was a good deal.

Goodwill has also expanded into northwest Arkansas recently, opening a 25,000-SF location in a former Today's Office in Springdale and a 9,000-SF store and donation center on Walton Boulevard in Bentonville, Itzkowitz said.

Several of the new Goodwill stores have drive-up donation services, where donors can simply pop the trunk to allow staff members to unload the donated goods.




Please read our comments policy before commenting.