Helen Newsome waited patiently as dignitaries gave short speeches Wednesday outside the Goodwill Northern Illinois’ new Huntley store.
“We are really excited to have you here,” Huntley Mayor Charles Sass said to Goodwill executives. “Obviously, a lot of other people are too.”
Goodwill Northern Illinois President Samuel Schmitz cut a ceremonial red ribbon and the crowd was off, streaming into the 16,000-square-foot store in search of bargains.
“You never know what you’ll find,” said Newsome, of Algonquin.
Plote Construction built the store especially for Goodwill and is renting the building to the nonprofit. Plote officials, Goodwill representatives and members gathered Wednesday for the grand opening.
Thrift Store Shopping
Newsome shops at a couple of Goodwill stores and got her jeans and shoes from one store. People who shop Goodwill “love bargains,” she said.
Schmitz finds “the economy has driven people to shop thrift,” he said. “On the other side of the equation, it is very in vogue for people of all ages and economic (backgrounds) to shop thrift. Young people who are environmentally conscious like to shop green. People in higher incomes are thrilled to find designer items.”
“We’ve helped open up a whole new mindset that it’s OK to shop at Goodwill,” he said.
Wednesday, the aisles got crowded quickly. Checkout lines stretched near the aisles and the parking lot was full. An employee directed people to park in a field next door.
Goodwill hired 48 employees and they were busy, trying to keep shelves stocked with everything from dish soaps to champagne flutes to Halloween decorations.
Huntley Goodwill predicts it will get 1 million pounds of donations in a year, said Craig Grugel, director of retail operations. Goodwill follows the “four R's” philosophy: resell, repurpose, recycle and reuse, he said.
An estimated 90 percent of donations are recycled in some way either through the store or shipped to Third World countries, he said. That means 1 million pounds of items that would have been placed on the curb will stay out of landfills, he said.
New McHenry County Locations
Huntley was chosen as the second McHenry County location. Goodwill Northern Illinois opened a store in McHenry in July, which is doing well. The organization is celebrating 75 years in the area but had not opened a location in McHenry until this year, Schmitz said.
Locations are chosen based on where the best donation stream is, Grugel said. What Goodwill has found is 80 percent of donations are made within a 10-mile radius of a location. Customers, however, will drive three times that distance to get a bargain, he said.
Judging by the store’s opening, Huntley was a good choice. The store collected four tons of donations on Monday, Grugel said. A total of 107 people donated items at the drive-through.
“Four tons in one day, it’s staggering,” he said. “That tells us we will be very successful here.”
Huntley Trustee Harry Leopold donated items. Lots of people in Sun City, where he lives, have things they’ve kept thinking they will need. He dropped off a couple of carloads of items. But he did buy a little something Wednesday. He found a box with 10 puzzles for $2.99 that he couldn’t pass up.
Newsome, too, picked up a few things. She was impressed with the store.
“It’s a nice store,” she said, adding, “I’ll be back.”