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Goodwill store opens in Worthington

Goodwill manager Jennifer Moran (from left) chief operating officer Vilay Keokenchanh and director of retail Heather Faulkner welcomed customers on a busy first day of business Thursday. (Brian Korthals/Daily Globe)

WORTHINGTON -- The Goodwill store officially opened at 9 a.m. Thursday, and it took only a few minutes before the store was filled with shoppers.

"This is one of those days where you sit back and have a little trepidation, wondering how you're going to be accepted in the community, wondering if the shoppers are going to be there," said Paul Kellen, vice president of development and public relations for Goodwill. "You wonder if, you wonder if and you wonder if. After you get ready for the grand opening, you open the doors and you look around and there are 100 people waiting to get in the store and it's a constant revolving door of people coming in and coming out shopping and saying they will be back."

The store, located on Ryan's Road, celebrated it's grand opening Thursday with refreshments and cookies.

"This is a really, really nice grand opening," Kellen said. "I think Worthington is about 13,000 people and I think most of them have been here this morning. If not, I hope they are telling their family and friends to come on out to the Goodwill store. You look around at the store, and if there's something you need, it's probably in the store or it will be in the store."

The reaction to the new store was positive, according to Kellen.

"It's to make the experience of the shoppers who come into our stores that they want to come back again," he said. "They will go back, they will clean their closets out or they will look in their attics and they will say there are things I can donate to Goodwill because of the cause associated with Goodwill Industries."

The 10,500-square-foot store has about 6,800 square feet of retail space. The remainder is for processing donations brought to the building.

The store was packed full of a variety of items Thursday morning, including clothes, shoes, furniture, curtains, books and toys, to name a few.

"The inventory was shipped in," Vilay Keokenchanh, chief operations officer, said. "We have a warehouse in Sioux City. The ultimate goal, after we get our name in the community for a while, the goal is to have the store self-sustain through local donations."

One of the features inside the store is the connection center, which offers computer and internet access -- free of charge -- for those who need help.

"This is a tool people can use to find employment," said Geo Torres, employment specialist.

The center will offer help for resumes and cover letters, job postings, application assistance and interview preparation, among other computer skills.

"It's a resource center for people looking for jobs," Keokenchanh said. "They can come in here and apply for jobs online or get resume assistance."

The store is open from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday and from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Sunday. During those hours, attendants will help with donations.

"We have an easy donation drive-through," Keokenchanh said. "You can drive your car there, we have donation attendants come out and get it out of your car."

Donations are accepted at any time.

"We've been getting them before we opened," store manager Jennifer Moran said. "They can drop it even when we're not here. There will be a designated area for the drop off.

"The only thing we cannot take is large appliances like stoves and refrigerators," Moran continued. "Furniture we can take, but we inspect it so it doesn't have holes or stains. We will basically take anything from shoes to clothing to wares, you name it."

There are 17 people employed at the store, and they have been busy leading up to the grand opening.

"We have been working hard. Me, my staff, corporate and everybody has been wonderful," Moran said. "We've worked hard, this is very exciting and I'm so excited to see all these customers. It's wonderful having the community here."

While the customers were shopping, employees continued to fill the shelves.

"We have a lot of merchandise in the back room we keep processing," Moran said. "We've prepared for this day. It's wonderful to see these items go off the shelf, but we're trying to put them on as fast as they go off.

"It was so much fun putting the stuff out and going through everything," she continued. "That's what me and my staff has been doing. They've done it, been successful and got it out."

Alongside the merchandise, Goodwill has a paper shredding operation, and can recycle old computers.

For Goodwill, it's more than just selling items.

"At Goodwill, when you buy something you know the purchase price is making an economic impact in the community, we're hiring people that are local and we're also depending on the generosity of our donors," Kellen said. "You know when you shop, the dollars are going to go back into the communities and go back into the mission work."

Things have gone well so far, according to Keokenchanh.

"We're happy to be here," he said. "The Worthington community really welcomed us with open arms. We have deals every day. It's a deal every day. We have low unit pricing, brand names, you name it and you can find anything. If you need it, you will probably find it here."