Millcreek • Have you always wanted to own a Vox drum set like the one played by Ringo Starr? how about a Utah Jazz jersey signed by Deron Williams, or a pair of 1940s binoculars inlaid with mother of pearl?
Utah bargain hunters will get a crack at these items — and many more — on Thursday, when the state’s first Goodwill opens. the store, in the old Ethan Allen building at 4545 S. 900 East, is expected to draw thousands of thrifty shoppers on opening weekend.
A media tour of the store on Tuesday revealed the care taken by staffers in organizing the store. Every clothing rack has items sorted by color and size, so patrons won’t have to sort through an entire rack to find a navy polo in their size. Toys are neatly stacked on shelves, with smaller items in transparent plastic “grab bags” to keep pieces together until after they are purchased. In the back warehouse, stacked plastic crates separate DVDs, VHS tapes and books by format and topic, already priced and ready to be displayed the moment shelf space opens up.
Donations have been pouring in since January, said manager Jose Velasco, and the 28 staffers have prepared about 100,000 items for the initial rush. Inventory in the 15,000-square-foot showroom will likely be turned over three or four times the first weekend, based on recent openings in other states.
“We’ve got everything from new goods to used goods to antiques and collectibles,” Velasco said, adding that Goodwill’s willingness to stock inexpensive new items such as flip flops and hand sanitizer sets it apart from its thrift competitors.
Goodwill executives expect booming business at the store, said Chelle Feist, community relations manager for the Northern Rocky Mountain region. Community support has been good, she said, with about 70 donors dropping off goods each day. Goodwill plans to open at least two more Utah stores in the next five years.
other thrift shops in the valley have not been quite so lucky. the Salvation Army recently announced its Murray store, just down the road at 5448 S. 900 East, will close July 29, and its West Valley location closed in March. but those stores were smaller than the new Goodwill, said Lee Manwaring, the Goodwill-Easter Seals vice president who oversees the Salt Lake store. and the new shop will also serve as a regional recycling center for Goodwill shops, where items that are stained, broken or otherwise unusable can be sold for scrap or turned into other items. that diversity of income sources should provide more stability and funding for Easter Seals programs in Utah.
And while the LDS church-owned Deseret Industries is ingrained in Utah culture, Manwaring said, Goodwill executives have actually met with the D.I. team to see how the organizations might work together.
“We’re not looking to be competitors,” Manwaring said, “We’re looking to be contributors to the community.”
Members of Utah’s refugee community have already found work as store staff, Manwaring said, and many of the state’s autistic children receive help through Easter Seals programs. People with disabilities work to recycle T-shirts that can’t be sold into rags that can be, he said, and even the terminally ill receive help from the store through its subsidy of Easter Seals hospice programs.
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The Millcreek store will open at 9 a.m. on Thursday, but customers have already been stopping by in hopes of scoring deals.
Dulce Gonzalez brought her three children to the store on Tuesday, but was turned away while employees put the finishing touches on Utah’s new shopping experience.
The Wendover resident has shopped at Goodwill stores in California, and plans to make the trek to Millcreek on a regular basis to shop.
“Goodwill, they have good quality,” Gonzalez said, “good brands, but at a cheaper price.”
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