NORMAN — The next big project for Goodwill Industries of Central Oklahoma points to a new direction for the nonprofit organization.
For the first time, the agency is building a retail store from the ground up. Crews are expected to break ground this month on the 15,000-square-foot store at Main Street and 24th Avenue NW, with an anticipated opening in March.
Both the location — Norman's busiest intersection — and the look of the store are designed to attract high-quality donations, which are sold to fund the agency's employment programs, said Chief Executive Officer Chris Daniels.
“We need to place stores in areas that will get good donations,” said Daniels, who took over as CEO in 2011. “If the donations are there, people will come and shop. It has been a huge turning point for us.”
The attractive brick facade and landscaped exterior will be a step above the typical Goodwill store, many of which are housed in strip centers or former grocery stores.
Daniels said the Norman location will include the retail store, a donation center and a job connection center, where people can have free access to community services. It will be built on the former Marc Heitz Chevrolet lot next to a new Arby's and an ALDI grocery store, according to J.R. Fulton & Associates. The existing Norman location at 12th Avenue NE and Alameda Street will remain open.
Donations are essential to Goodwill Industries of Central Oklahoma's mission. Store sales provide 86 percent of its revenue, Daniels said, and demand for its employment services has skyrocketed. A few years ago, the nonprofit helped about 3,000 people; last year, they served 10,000.
Goodwill purchased the lot at 2430 W Main for $775,500 and plans to spend $1.2 million on construction, county records show.
In the long run, Daniels said, it will save the agency money to own the store instead of leasing. And they hope to own half their stores in 15 years.
The agency recently opened its 12th store, at NW 23 and Meridian Avenue. Daniels hopes to add stores in Edmond and Oklahoma City, near Belle Isle Station or on Northwest Expressway; he also wants to replace stores that closed in Moore and Shawnee, and add at least 20 donation centers throughout the metro area.
Goodwill has focused recently on revamping its stores, making them cleaner and more organized. They've also increased the selection of purchased goods, which are bought from major retailers at a discount yet still sold at a profit, typically for half the retail price.
For example, the new store at NW 23 and Meridian stocks flat-screen TVs in an ongoing arrangement with a major retailer, Daniels said.
Some Goodwill agencies across the country have been opening upscale “blue” boutiques, but Daniels said they're not following the trend. For example, a boutique may sell a pair of Lucky jeans for around $20, but at Goodwill stores, including the new Norman location, they cost $4.99.
“I hope the feel and the merchandise is similar, but with better prices,” he said.
We need to place stores in areas that will get good donations. If the donations are there, people will come and shop. It has been a huge turning point for us.”
Goodwill Chief Executive Officer