Bidding for Good: Goodwill Auctions Provide Bargains and Fund Services for Job Seekers

An intense war broke out between two bidders over a mysterious container of vintage jewelry, both hoping their patience and treasure hunting savvy would pay off.

Bidding started at $5.

It ended four minutes later at $425.

This battle did not happen at a private auction house. It took place last week at Goodwill in Richmond.

“You never know what you’re going to get. That’s the beauty of Goodwill auctions – each one is different,” said Serena Quarles, Goodwill’s auction manager. The auctions feature merchandise that did not sell at Goodwill’s retail stores or outlets but still have value.

On any given auction day, thousands of items are on the block, including but not limited to bikes, books, electronics, furniture, housewares and toys. Professional auctioneer Doug Sinclair of Sinclair and Associates has presided over these events for about 15 years. “I love being an auctioneer and I love working with Goodwill. Many of the donated goods at our auctions are beautiful and unique items that you won’t see anywhere else. It’s an exciting experience,” said Sinclair.

The aforementioned vintage jewelry collection was sold at one of Goodwill’s special antiques and collectibles auctions held on the first Friday each month. Kelechi Gabriel lost the bid.

“When I saw the collection, I thought something special could be inside. I’m a risk taker, but the bidding went past my limit,” he said.

Deflated but not deterred, he returned for the next auction three days later. “It makes me feel good to know the money is going to charity. I get to find cool things, and my money is helping the community and those in need,” he said.

“Auctions are a big part of how Goodwill powers its mission to creating pathways of opportunity and success for job seekers with challenges to work,” said Antonio Pride, Goodwill’s director of logistics. “They’re another form of social enterprise that funds Goodwill’s workforce development and employment programs, and they underscore our commitment to try to monetize the goods people donate to Goodwill if the items don’t sell in our stores,” he said.

Goodwill has five Community Employment Centers across Central and Coastal Virginia, where job seekers can take advantage of workforce training services and job-readiness programs that include:
•Employment search support (career assessments, resume writing, interview coaching)
•Job Readiness Training and Certification (soft skills, technical skills, work/life skills)
•Job Placement Services (Active jobs database, job fairs and hiring events, on-site staffing agency)

Auctions also helps the environment, playing a part in helping Goodwill keep 40 million pounds of goods out of local landfills. “It’s the last opportunity for items to be sold before they’re recycled or salvaged,” Pride said.

Valerie Hopkins attended her first Goodwill auction five years ago. “I find a lot of good stuff here, and my husband and I re-sell it during our free time,” she said. Hopkins often refurbishes furniture, including one of her self-described best buys. “I bought a couple of oversized dining chairs and an ottoman. They were beautiful,” she said.

Finding treasures is not the only reason Hopkins keeps coming back. “It’s nice to know I am helping the community. You can buy something you want, and your money is helping others get jobs and training. It’s not lining someone’s pockets,” she said.

Click here for more information on Goodwill’s auctions and how you can make a difference in the community.