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Sunday, August 18, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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News >  Business

Lincoln Heights Goodwill grows

A goodwill customer shops for clothes, Thursday, July 11, 2019, at the renovated store on 27th Avenue in Spokane. (Dan Pelle / The Spokesman-Review)
A goodwill customer shops for clothes, Thursday, July 11, 2019, at the renovated store on 27th Avenue in Spokane. (Dan Pelle / The Spokesman-Review)

A larger and more modern Goodwill store celebrated its grand re-opening last month on East 27th Avenue on Spokane’s South Hill.

The store has been at the location at 2927 E. 27th Avenue since 2014, and last year Goodwill Industries of the Inland Northwest purchased the building for $2.2. million. A new 4,000-square-foot production facility was added, and the store was enlarged by 2,000 square feet, said Senior Director of Marketing and Strategic Communication Heather Alexander.

The work on the new addition started last fall, and the store shut down April 5 to allow for renovation and remodeling. A wall was removed that added the additional 2,000 square feet to the sales floor, which allowed the store to expand its offerings. Furniture was among the items added.

“People are loving having more furniture space,” she said.

The new addition provides a covered drive-thru area where people can drop off donations. “We had a couple box trucks parked out front to collect donations,” Alexander said. “It wasn’t a great experience for our donors.”

Once a donation is received, it is immediately sorted into several large boxes. Categories include books, housewares, clothing, electronics and shoes. The donations are sent to a central warehouse, where they sit until a store requests a new batch of clothes or shoes or books for sale.

Employee Scott Davis, who accepts donations and does the initial sorting, said he likes being able to work indoors. “Before we were out in the elements,” he said. “It’s a lot nicer being inside now.”

Though the Lincoln Heights store is relatively new, it’s the busiest in terms of donations. In 2018 people dropped off 53,000 donations there. “We get all sorts of donations year-round,” Alexander said. “The community up here has been incredibly supportive.”

That volume of business is one reason Goodwill bought the store it was leasing instead of looking for a new spot, Alexander said. “It’s hard to find space in Spokane, especially on the South Hill,” she said. “This has been a great location for us.”

The rest of the new production facility is used to sort and price items that are shipped in from the warehouse. It’s a busy place, with employees constantly working to get new items onto the shelves. There are three truck bays for unloading cargo.

It’s a far cry from the cramped production space that was in the back of the store before it was remodeled, Alexander said. “It wasn’t an efficient space,” she said. “Efficiency is what helps us save money and put more money into our programs.”

The money Goodwill makes at its thrift stores funds services for veterans, housing support, youth mentoring and vocational training and education. “When people are donating and shopping here they’re supporting our mission,” she said.

Employees didn’t just gain a larger production area. They also traded in their small, windowless break room for a large break room with a kitchen that has a wall of windows overlooking an outdoor patio.

There’s also a quiet room with a comfortable stuffed chair that can be used by nursing mothers or employees who just want a bit of quiet. “Sometimes people just need a quiet space to get away,” she said.

Alexander said people seem to be enjoying the larger, more modern store. There are rows of shelves full of books, large racks of clothing and hundreds of pairs of shoes. Alexander said that some of the items they sell, such as the bras and underwear, are new but have a discounted price. On a recent day an infinity scarf with the old $30 price tag still attached was selling for $5.97.

Because the store is stocked with donations, you never know what you’ll find, Alexander said.

“It’s always a treasure hunt,” she said. “It’s just random.”

Experienced Goodwill shoppers know that if they see something they like, they can’t count on it still being there later even if it’s later the same day.

“Things move fast,” she said. “If you see it, you’ve got to buy it.”

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