Goodwill coming to Brookings

By Jane Stebbins, Pilot staff writer June 20, 2014 09:27 pm

A banner is up, workers are building walls and the rumors have been confirmed: Goodwill Industries is coming to Brookings.

The rumors had floated around town for months, with the former owners of Chetco Pharmacy — C&K Markets — saying they knew nothing about the arrival of the nonprofit agency except what they’d heard on the streets, as well.

But building owner Ann Bauer of Grants Pass said the sale closed in late April; the thrift store is slated to open in mid-September.

“They were looking for a Brookings location for four, five years,” Bauer said. “They really wanted to be here. It’s a great location for them, and they’re very excited about being in Brookings.”

Jim Martin, president and CEO of Goodwill Industries of Lane and South Coast Counties, agreed.

“It’s an area we’ve wanted to expand into for years and just couldn’t find the right space,” he said. “There’s not a space I haven’t looked at, including the old grocery store (Shop Smart) and the bowling alley, a furniture store. …”

The rumors began to fly after C&K Market officials announced that, as part of the Brookings-based store’s bankruptcy proceedings, they were closing the Shop Smart Market and Pharmacy Express drugstore in Harbor along with Chetco Pharmacy in Brookings.

As part of its bankruptcy proceedings, C&K Markets sold the prescriptions to Rite Aid and broke its lease on the Chetco Pharmacy property. Its Brookings-Harbor Shopping Center complex in Harbor is slated for auction July 15. There are no changes planned for Ray’s Food Place, said a spokesman there who wished to remain anonymous.

The two other tenants in the Chetco Pharmacy complex — Spotlight Video & Tan and the Brookings Liquor store — will stay in their locations until their respective leases end. Martin said he didn’t know what might happen after that.

Goodwill brings to Brookings more than just a thrift store, Martin said.

The store will employ 18 to 24 people who have “barriers to employment,” he said.

“These are people who often find it difficult to find an employer willing to work with them and address their barriers in the workplace,” he said. “We employ those with profound difficulties, due to the generosity of the community.”

That’s where the thrift store element comes into play.

“When someone donates an item, it starts a chain reaction of work opportunities,” Martin said. “It gives them a great work opportunity.”

The Goodwill Industries of Lane and South Coast Counties has stores in Florence, North Bend, Junction City, Cottage Grove, Eugene and Springfield.

“Brookings is part of our territory,” Martin said. “It’s a market that has a need we can serve.”

First, however, the 14,000 store needs almost $500,000 in renovations, which will include building restrooms, remodeling the 5,000-square-foot sales floor and creating a drive-thru donation center.

“It’s a prime piece of real estate,” Martin said. “But we have no idea what our plans are, other than getting the store open.”

He’s already started fielding phone calls from people wishing to make donations.

The nonprofit’s goal is to enhance the dignity and quality of life of individuals and families by helping people reach their potential through education, training and work. Last year alone, it helped 9.8 million with training, enabling more than 261,000 of them to land work that, collectively, garnered them more than $4.4 billion in wages, according to the organization’s website.

Goodwill has come a long way since the Rev. Helms opened the first store in Boston in 1902 he described as “an industrial program, as well as a social service enterprise; a provider of employment, training and rehabilitation for people of limited employability; and a source of temporary assistance for individuals whose resources were depleted.”

Goodwill has since grown to comprise 2,900 stores — and Martin just won approval to branch into the entire state of Alaska, as well.

Some people in town have questioned the need for another thrift store, much as they scratched their heads when O’Reilly Auto Parts — the city’s third car parts store — broke ground at the north end of Chetco Avenue.

Martin said displays in Goodwill stores have seen dramatic overhauls in the past few decades.

“We don’t look like a standard thrift store,” Martin said. “We look more like Kohl’s or a T.J. Maxx. You won’t know you’re in a thrift store when you’re in our store. We’re not your grandma’s Goodwill.”

More information can be found at www.goodwill-oregon.org.