A crowd of nearly 100 people braved 90-degree temperatures to welcome Goodwill’s first retail store in Emporia on Thursday, June 21.
Emporia Mayor Mary Person, along with local dignitaries and community leaders, joined Goodwill President and CEO Charles Layman in cutting a ceremonial ribbon to officially open the store. “This store is going to be a plus for our area,” said Mayor Person. “Goodwill will bring more jobs and skills training, which will make Emporia’s economy stronger and more valuable,” she added.
Goodwill converted a former CVS store to create the 5,900-square foot site, which is located at 306A W. Atlantic St., just south of Route 58 and less than a mile from Interstate 95.
More than 200 customers walked through the front doors within the first hour, excited to peruse the shelves for gently-used goods at affordable prices.
“I am so impressed at the store’s selection of items,” said Katrina Claude, a shopper from Emporia. She said this was her first visit ever to a Goodwill store. “I’m glad the city has a new place to shop for quality items. Nothing is cheap or damaged,” she said.
Another shopper, Cina Minor, said she came to the Emporia store in search of luggage for her summer vacation. She was pleased to find a suitcase for less than $20. “The selection is awesome. I didn’t want to spend a lot of money, so I’m glad I found this,” she said.
Martha Murdock, Goodwill’s director of retail operations, said this store’s opening was a long time coming. “We’ve wanted to come to Emporia for a while, so today is a big deal,” she said. “This is our first retail store in Southern Virginia, which we realized is an underserved part of the state. Emporia is full of great people and we are humbled at the amount of excitement these shoppers have today,” she said.
The Emporia retail store also serves as a donation site, where people can bring their gently-used items. Those items are re-sold in Goodwill’s retail stores and help to fund Goodwill’s employment and education programs.
Goodwill is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that operates five Community Employment Centers across Central and Coastal Virginia, offering free employment resources and training to job seekers with challenges to work. “I look forward to our citizens learning more about Goodwill’s services,” said Person. “We have a high poverty rate and city leaders are always looking for opportunities to provide jobs and education, not just for our adult population, but for our youth. It’s important for them to be prepared for the workforce,” Person added.
In addition to owning and operating the Emporia retail store, Goodwill also purchased four other neighboring commercial spaces. Goodwill plans to rent those spaces to businesses, bringing in more revenue to its nonprofit and social enterprise operations. “We look forward to seeing the positive impact Goodwill has on our community and our economy,” said Person.
Goodwill operates six attended donation sites and accepts donations at its 18 retail stores across the Central Virginia region. For a list of items accepted at Goodwill stores and donation sites, click here.