Thrift is in fashion. As is the case with the La Plata County Humane Society, the United Methodist Church, Habitat for Humanity and the new Discover Goodwill Retail Center opening tomorrow, it can also be for a good cause.
A recent letter to the editor from Barbara Gysel (Herald, Feb. 5) highlighted the numerous values the Human Society’s Thrift Store affords the whole community, literally. From the vouchers and direct donations it and the Methodist Church Thrift Store provide local human service organizations and residents most in need, to employment and community service opportunities and value retail pricing, these organizations and their affiliated businesses serve an important role in our community.
Yes, there are other secondhand thrift, vintage and gently-used clothing stores in town that do as well – everyone loves a deal and the satisfaction of buying something in great shape at a bargain price – but in a different way. These nonprofits, businesses too, have a specific mission their retail sales support.
The revenue derived from shopping at our not-for-profit thrift stores funds programs, whether animal or human welfare, that fill gaps left by the public and private sector – the traditional role of a not-for-profit organization.
In the case of our newest addition, Discover Goodwill, it is to help people reach their highest personal and economic independence. The retail and donation center, at 1230 Escalante Drive, will operate independently of Goodwill Industries International, as all centers do. It walks its talk by hiring local people with varying disadvantages that for this location include 32 residents (25 full-time and seven part-time employees). The average wage is more than $11.53 hour, and all full-time employees are eligible for a wide range of benefits.
Though they would be wise to quickly bring those wages up to Thrive Living Wage Coalition’s calculated $13.31/hour, the wage it takes for a single person in La Plata County to afford basic living expenses here, these are 32 new jobs that didn’t exist previously, and the store will generate new tax revenue from sales in its 15,620-square-foot showroom.
Economically disadvantaged residents will be able to access the Low-Income Energy Assistance Program at the new store that provides assistance with heating bills during the fall and winter. Goodwill is also looking to partner with other human service organizations, local businesses and stakeholder groups to positively impact Durango’s community and economy.
Though not all of the proceeds will stay local, nearly 90 cents of every dollar supports programs and services in the 42 Colorado counties Goodwill serves. While it’s great that Ross Dress for Less, a national chain, is getting into the business of supporting local youth (Herald, Feb. 11), it’s not the same as thrift store shopping at a local mission-driven nonprofit where the revenue stays local and in the state.
Discover Goodwill’s grand opening takes place from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. tomorrow. Stop by and welcome them to town.