Spreading Goodwill: Impressive turnout for opening of La Jolla Goodwill store
By Pat Sherman
Hundreds of people attended the grand opening of La Jolla’s new Goodwill store at 7631 Girard Ave. on Thursday, June 27, with customers lined up down the block at 9 a.m. waiting to shop for resale bargains.
“I’m just in awe of what some women are buying,” said Pacific Beach resident Carol Klein, who was second in line when the store opened at 10 a.m. “One lady had a cart full of clothes. She said she has an online business, so she’s buying and then reselling.”
Though Klein emerged from the store at about 11 a.m. with only a metal magazine rack to hold her iPad, others such as La Jolla resident Francisca Zamora exercised less restraint, filling an entire shopping cart with clothing for her family.
“The prices are great,” said Zamora, noting that she doesn’t normally shop at thrift stores, but read about the store in La Jolla Light and arrived early for the opening. “The people are not rude, which I like — even the people shopping,” she added.
Beth Forsberg, vice-president of operations for Goodwill Industries of San Diego County, said the store hopes to set itself aside with its customer service.
“We’ve been working very hard to make the customer experience top of the line … a little more relationship (centered), where people can come in and say, ‘Let me know when you get my size in,’” Forsberg said. “In our regular stores we don’t do that. … I think we’re definitely going to try and listen to the community and what they want.”
Forsberg said the store’s rear donation center, which opened weeks before the retail store fronting Girard Avenue, is receiving more high-end donations than other locations.
“We got some of the top brands in the nation through the back door yesterday — Prada, Gucci — I couldn’t believe it … a lot of brand-spanking new men’s and women’s shoes in there … and a lot of high-end summer sandals,” she said.
Shoppers included people from around the county and a number of tourists, such as Denver’s Nancy Williams-Johnson.
Following her shopping excursion, Williams-Johnson held a white plastic bag filled with clothes in front of her like a trophy.
“I paid $84 for all this — I mean, name brand, really good stuff … and I got the senior discount, too,” Williams-Johnson exclaimed. “Now I have to figure out how I’m going to get it in an already overstuffed suitcase.”
A man driving down Girard Avenue in a white SUV looked over at the crowd still waiting to enter the store nearly two hours after it opened, and shook his head in disbelief.
“I don’t think most men understand this,” Williams-Johnson said. “My significant other won’t understand. He’ll be mortified. He’ll go, ‘You mean you didn’t go to the Del Coronado? You didn’t go to the beach? You went to a Goodwill?’ ”
Though the store also carries men’s clothing and shoes, about 80 percent of those in line during the opening were female.
“It’s kind of a woman thing,” Williams-Johnson said. “It’s the thrill of the hunt. You don’t know what you’re going to find, you don’t know if it’s going to be in your size, but it’s going to be a bargain, and it’s going to be wonderful.”
La Mesa resident Marianne Cleveland, who attended the grand opening with her 30-year-old daughter, Jamie, said she raised her two daughters to seek out bargains.
“With the economy today I think it’s crazy to go to ‘Needless Markup’ or anywhere else like that — $200 on sale? That’s crazy.”
According to Goodwill’s Communications Director Sharron Corrigan, there were more than 300 retail transactions at the store on opening day.
Goodwill is opening a store in Poway next month and another in Hillcrest this fall. Forsberg credits the company’s local and national expansion to shoppers seeking bargains during the slowly rebounding economy, as well as the availability of affordable rental sites to open new locations.
“In San Diego we’ve been expanding for about the last three years,” Forsberg said. “There’s property out there where there wasn’t before.”
Donations are also increasing, she said. “That’s also key to it,” she said. “Even if we have tons and tons of shoppers, if we don’t have great merchandise (from) the generous people of San Diego, we’re not going to have the sales.”
The 1,600-square-foot store employees a combination of 25 full- and part-time employees. The nonprofit organization uses proceeds from sales of donated items to help people with disabilities and other barriers to employment find jobs by developing their skills and work habits through training and on-the-job experience.
For more information, call (858) 752-6181 or visit sdgoodwill.org
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