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About 100 people lined the walls outside of the new Sweetwater Goodwill location at 701 E. Broadway on Saturday morning before its 10 a.m. Grand Opening. "I think this is great," said one waiting customer Arlene Hartman. "I can come in and shop, go to Sonic and get me a drink and then go back to my shop," she added. Hartman is the owner of Arlene's Second Hand Rose and Arlene's Books.
Right at 10 a.m., the manager of Sweetwater's Goodwill, Barbara Smith, and Goodwill West Texas Director of Retail, Rob Litz, opened the double doors and greeted and thanked customers on their way into the new store. The store was stocked with many rows of clothes, all organized into categories, and the walls were filled with new and used merchandise, including home dÃ©cor, kitchen appliances and dishes, furniture, linens and much more.
Many more customers poured in the store throughout the morning and the two long lines formed to the back of the store for patrons to check out. Employees and Goodwill West Texas representatives, including President Cindy Haley, thanked customers for coming to the Grand Opening and for their patience in line. New items were being stocked by employees as people shopped and emptied shelves. Two employees manned each register, one ringing up customers' selections while the other called out prices and bagged the items. "We're glad to be back," said employee Inez Perez. "We missed our regulars."
Employee Tanessa Chance added that many of the customers that were at the grand opening were regular customers of the old Goodwill location.
Many were impressed with the new store. Josie Caballero said "I like seeing what is new in the store, it is very nice."
Another customer waiting in line, Lisa Seals, said, "I think it is grand. There is so much more room, especially the parking."
Another customer, Lucy Garza added, "It's big and nice. There are more items to choose from."
Danny Carrillo said, "It is bigger than the other store and much nicer. Everything is very clean and organized."
President Haley said of the Grand Opening, "It is a smashing success. We are so glad to be able to open back up for the Sweetwater community. Lots of people have said that they are glad we have re-opened. The lines have been to the back since our opening. This fulfills our mission of providing opportunities for people with barriers to employment. The doors to the old location closed a little over six months ago as we were faced with either making many much needed repairs or finding a new building for the store. We found this perfect location, which is more convenient, with more than adequate parking, renovated it and reopened and are having a great reception from the community."
Free popcorn was given during the event and several drawings were held for Goodwill shopping sprees.
Haley added that donations can now be taken at the new location. Donations can be dropped off in the store's warehouse or can be brought through the front door. Haley asks that donations only be brought during business hours which are from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Saturday, and from noon to 6 p.m. on Sunday. She thanks the community for their donations. "We are always in need of donations, as donations are what keep us in business," she said.
Those wishing to donate without means to deliver can also call Goodwill to schedule a pick-up. Haley said that Goodwill accepts gently used items as they can't sell anything that has tears or items that are too worn or broken. She said that Goodwill sells new mattresses and new box springs, but does not accept used ones as donations. They also do not accept sleeper beds.
Goodwill also has a display case in the front of the store called the bid case. Items are chosen to go in the case and customers can place bids on the items until the expiration date. The items go to the highest bidder.
The new Goodwill location currently has 12 employees, some from the old location and some new employees as well. Two employees have been with Goodwill for quite some time â€” Treissa Sanders has been employed by Goodwill for over eight years and Joe DeLeon has been employed with Goodwill the longest with 15 years under his belt. Goodwill also offers opportunities for community service workers.
Goodwill partners with Dell computers and people can drop off computers, office machines, printers, cartridges, etc. at any Goodwill location and that helps Goodwill create jobs (just like all donations), but it also gives people a green way to dispose of office clutter.