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Posted on Mon. Jan. 23, 2012 - 12:01 am EDT

Goodwill offers good deals at monthly sales

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All shoppers love a good deal and Goodwill Industries of Northeast Indiana is up to the challenge by offering a monthly 50 percent off sale on all items. Goodwill’s next sale is scheduled for Feb.17-18.

A longtime shopper at Goodwill, Jeannie Eich said she looks forward to these sales “primarily for my four children because they go through clothes so quickly.” She was shopping Jan. 13 at the Goodwill on Coliseum Boulevard for winter school clothes.

Another shopper, Donna Hanley piled her cart full during the sale at the Covington Plaza location. “They have a little of everything,” she said. Expecting her third grandchild, she was looking for baby clothes. Hanley said she rarely shops at Goodwill, but found it hard to resist the bargains since a pile of baby clothes were selling for 95 cents per item. At the same location, a Black & Decker food processor was for sale for $12.50, sweaters for $2.50, and a chair and ottoman set for $75.

The start of the 50 percent off sales began about two years ago, said Kathy Wedler, manager of Goodwill at Covington Plaza. The customer flow at least doubles those days, Wedler said, “It’s just busier. We get a lot of calls from people for when the next sale will be…people wait for it.”

All Goodwill items, whether at sale or regular prices, are checked for quality. “We definitely check for stains (on clothes),” said Wedler, “and look for the most current things to display.” She added that every Goodwill location has its own boutique section, which displays “bigger designer names” on clothing items. Most clothing in Wedler’s boutique section sells for about $4 at sale price, with several prom dresses as low as $6.

Surprisingly, the monthly sales do not bring in a lot of extra revenue for Goodwill when all is said and done. “Some months are better than others,” said Lori McCutcheon, sales and operations director for Goodwill Industries of Northeast Indiana. Only about 4 percent in revenue increase is seen during sale weekends, McCutcheon reported.

Instead of seeking monetary gain from these sales, the company focuses more on community programs. McCutcheon said, “This is why we exist…for these programs that go toward helping clients.” The agency’s programs include vocational evaluation, job placement and job readiness training for northeast Indiana residents with disabilities or other employment obstacles.

McCutcheon said that a fairly new program is retail training in which Goodwill partners with Walgreens to give job experience to clients, usually at Walgreens or Goodwill. This program consists of six weeks of classroom and hands-on instruction.

While the programs have some state funding, this money “doesn’t cover all the costs for these clients … some comes out of our own pocket,” McCutcheon said. In an effort to promote these programs, as well as donation sites and other advertisements, Goodwill trucks were redesigned last summer to feature information. The redesign was completed in November.

According to Goodwill’s 2010 annual report on its website, 227 clients used Goodwill’s employment services, and 89.1 percent of Goodwill’s operating revenue was spent toward its programs with $3.1 million returned to the local economy from Goodwill’s operations. The sales of donated goods totaled more than $7 million.

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