Just in time for the holidays, the new Goodwill in Cross Country Plaza opened its doors this morning to an eager crowd of shoppers who lined up outside in Black Friday fashion.
“There was somebody camped out this morning at 5 sitting in a chair," said Jane P. Nichols, president and chief executive officer of Goodwill Industries of the Southern Rivers. Nichols said more than 300 people turned out for the ribbon-cutting. The first 200 shoppers received a free gift.
Among those braving the December chill was Rosalind Perry, a loyal Goodwill customer who said she hoped to find the same quality of items at the Midtown store that she's grown accustomed to at other locations.
"The prices are good," she said. "They do a good job of taking care of cleaning it up for sale."
Folks are invited to visit the Goodwill Success and Training Center behind the new store to receive job-search assistance, attend budgeting courses or to have their federal taxes prepared free of charge.
A donation center is located behind the store.
“Those donations turn into people having the opportunity to go to work, whether it’s us providing skills training or free job search or whatever the scenario is,” Nichols said.
The 13,400 square foot facility is part of an aggressive expansion by the Columbus-based nonprofit of its jobs training and retail centers in its two-state, 50-county coverage area, which stretches from Auburn-Opelika in east Alabama to east of Valdosta and from Carrollton to the Florida state line. The expansion, which includes five new stores, will allow the agency to add 150 new jobs by next summer.
Another new store is expected to open in May off J.R. Allen Parkway east Columbus, and a new location also will open in July off U.S. 280 in Phenix City.
“Goodwill has been such a fabulous community partner for such a long time in this region," said Janeen Tucker of the Greater Columbus Georgia Chamber of Commerce. "They create jobs. They create happy homes."
Donations for the facility began "a little slow," Nichols said, but have picked up as Goodwill enters its busiest donation season.
"We'd like for it to double again," she said, "and then it will be self-supporting and we wouldn't have to bring in any from other outlying areas."
Goodwill is in need of children's and men's clothing among other items, Nichols said. "Jeans are incredibly popular," she said.