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Charitable stores worry over Goodwill

Vanessa Smith prices clothing at Saint Vincent dePaul in The Dalles. Most of the items being prepared to go out on the floor were donated in the summer. Mark B. Gibson photo

Vanessa Smith prices clothing at Saint Vincent dePaul in The Dalles. Most of the items being prepared to go out on the floor were donated in the summer. Mark B. Gibson photo Photo by Mark Gibson.

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Patricia Carrigan maintains records as clients draw food from the food bank downstairs at Saint Vincent dePaul in The Dalles. The local food bank is fully supported by the thrift shop and donations. Mark B. Gibson photo

— When a Goodwill Industries donation trailer showed up in The Dalles, it made those connected to local thrift stores nervous.

“I’m not as concerned about a customer base as I am our donation base,” said Major Tammy Ray, who runs the local Salvation Army with her husband Kevin.

She acknowledged that during summer months the store, which has little storage space for donations, gets overwhelmed and sometimes has to turn people away. But when the weather gets cold donations slow to a crawl and it is hard to keep the store well-stocked.

Ray said the income from the second hand store is what helps fund the various charitable endeavors the Salvation Army sponsors in The Dalles, such as the $112,000 worth of food boxes it gave to families in need last year.

“If we lose those donations, I’m nervous,” Ray said. “I’ve been in a community twice this size where this happened and we were powerless.”

Jackie Pennington, director of St. Vincent de Paul, was also worried about Goodwill taking donations away from their thrift store.

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Adam Barnhouse sorts and prices books in the working area of Saint Vincent dePaul in The Dalles. Mark B. Gibson photo

She said St. Vincent de Paul, as the Oregon Food Bank’s local distributor, served 8,832 people last year. Much of the food was donated, but out of the $23,400 that was purchased, half of that was paid for by revenue from the second hand store and the other half was paid for by cash donations.

Revenue from the store also supports other local programs, like Bread and Blessings, Community Meals and the Warming Place. Some of last year’s endeavors included $9,000 worth of utility assistance, 158 nights of emergency lodging, $2,648 in transportation assistance and collaborative projects between Salvation Army and St. Vincent de Paul.

“If we don’t have donations coming in the back door, we can’t sell it to fund other programs,” Pennington said.

She said the things being put out on the floor right now, during the slow season, are mostly left over from the summer.

Goodwill Industries plans store in The Dalles

The Goodwill Industries donation trailer at the corner of Cherry Heights and West Sixth Street is a sign of things to come: A Goodwill store in The Dalles.

Bob Barsocchini, general counsel and director of human resources and loss control for Goodwill Industries of the Columbia Willamette, confirmed that Goodwill is in the process of purchasing the old Albertson’s building where the trailer is currently parked. The nonprofit plans to demolish the building and build one of Goodwill’s trademark stores in its place.

“We’re going to build a little center, with the opportunity for some other businesses to come in as well,” he said. “I can’t say who they are yet, but we have some possible tenants that might provide some synergy.”

Barsocchini said the company is currently doing due diligence on environmental impacts, but plans to start construction of the 22,000 square foot building in April if all goes well. Goodwill plans to hire between 35 and 40 employees once the store is built.

Goodwill Industries was started as a way to get people back to work, and that continues to be its focus. Barsocchini said the store in The Dalles will include a “job connections center” to help individuals with disabilities and other barriers to employment develop job skills and find work.

When asked if there was a specific thing that they wish the saw more of, Ray said Salvation Army’s biggest seller is women’s blouses, and Pennington said furniture donations have decreased significantly since the recession started. But they are happy with any donations — the higher quality, the better.

Ray said it makes her laugh when people come in and tell her they brought a purchase home, only to realize they were the ones who had donated it to the store in the first place.

Both women said if there is one thing they could tell community members about donating to their stores, it’s to not leave donations in the alley after hours. People frequently do that, and when they do Ray and Pennington said they come the next morning to find the bags scavenged through and many of the items stolen or destroyed.

“If people think the things they are giving us are wonderful — and they probably are — they need to give in the best way possible for us to receive them,” Ray said.

She said when it comes to what people donate, she’s seen it all, from toilets to the Japanese sauna she is currently trying to figure out what to do with.

Pennington said when they get really interesting old clothes that people wouldn’t wear today she usually saves them to put out in October when people are looking for Halloween costumes.

She said probably the best donation she has ever received was last year when a woman from the Pendleton area brought a horse trailer filled to the brim with brand new merchandise she was closing out of her clothing store. Pennington said the woman told her she chose St. Vincent de Paul instead of a closer thrift store because when she comes to The Dalles she feels like the staff always treats her with kindness and respect.

“We estimated there was $45,000 of new clothing … The most fun part was the next day, listening to staff go through the boxes. It was like Christmas. It can be a tedious job sorting through donations so any time I hear them laughing in production that’s great,” Pennington said.

Both stores have a system for making sure merchandise doesn’t sit on the shelf for months.

At St. Vincent de Paul, the colored tagging system helps put things on a bigger discount the longer they sit on the rack. Unless it’s a specialty item that is just waiting for the right customer, things that have been 75 percent off for two weeks go to a ministry that recycles the items or sends them to a third world country. Salvation Army uses the same ministry.

Both stores rely completely on donations instead of purchasing items to sell at a profit. Ray and Pennington said despite Goodwill’s large advertising budget and prominent location, they hope Salvation Army and St. Vincent de Paul will continue to receive enough donations to be able to continue to serve the community as they have in the past

“We want to say thank you to the community for supporting us, because we wouldn’t be here if not for them,” Pennington said.

Comments

gorgetraveler 1 year, 2 months ago

I for one am sorry to see Goodwill coming to The Dalles.
All of my donations will continue to go to St. Vincent de Paul and the Salvation Army.

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j 1 year, 2 months ago

I am happy to see Goodwill! I will no longer support Sally's army, the fear they have seems socialistic they would rather care about themselves rather than the fact more people will benefit from more community effort to help those in need.

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obiwan1969 1 year, 2 months ago

I too am happy to see them coming to The Dalles, the old Albertson's building needs replaced. It will be nice to see all the job help they will give to all the unemplyed here in The Dalles and other business will be great. The other thrift stores will just have to keep their prices competitive and everyone will survive. The ultimate thing is that everyone is helping people and that is most important. Also, people forget that there used to be a Goodwill Store in The Dalles years ago downtown, I don't remember it but my mother does, That store was here before Salvation Army had a store here.

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ec 1 year, 2 months ago

i hope they're not yet another religious based organization. i stopped shopping at and donating to salvation army due to their opposition to marriage equality. its always good to know where your money goes!

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audram 11 months, 1 week ago

Good for you! I love seeing people advocating for equality with their $$$

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resident 1 year, 2 months ago

Goodwill is a very welcome addition to The Dalles. There are lots of times when the other thrift stores are selective or refuse to accept donations. It will give thrift store enthusiasts one more stop on their quest for the Good Stuff.
All that aside Goodwill does great things for the communities they serve. If you really want to do your due diligence before you come out against something
go to Goodwill Industries website and learn more

My mom would have been very excited for a Goodwill

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ec 1 year, 2 months ago

if you're replying to my comment, i am not against goodwill - just hoping that they are not yet another religiously affiliated organization.

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audram 11 months, 1 week ago

Goodwill has no religious affiliation. :D

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audram 11 months, 1 week ago

I am glad to see a second hand store coming to The Dalles that is not religiously affiliated. I'll be much more comfortable donating my used things and shopping in a place that I know isn't using the resources to prosylitize rather than actually helping people.

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