Goodwill: behind the shelves

Taking a look at how Goodwill works


Photo by Anna Mateffy

Laura Gross, team leader for Goodwill in Eau Claire, said there are some days when they ship two or three loads of donations to Appleton.

Story by Anna Mateffy, Photo/ Multimedia Editor

Where do the Santa sweaters and elf earmuffs stocking the shelves of Eau Claire’s Goodwill go after the holiday season?

Well, to Appleton.

Dan Flannery, vice president of community relations for Goodwill Industries of North Central Wisconsin, Inc., said the company leases storage facilities for goods that have yet to be sorted or are out of season.

According to their 2013 annual report, 25  Goodwill stores gathered just under a million donations, weighing in at more than 21,000 tons.

But all those boxes aren’t jammed with stuffed reindeer and tinsel.

“Oddly enough, Halloween is more of our Christmas than Christmas is,” Flannery said.

During the holidays, patrons come for decorations and seasonal garb. This time of year, Laura Goss, team leader for the Eau Claire Goodwill, said people start cleaning out their houses, apartments and dorm rooms in preparation for the new year.

“It’s the time of year when people are pinching their pennies because budgets are tight after Christmas spending, so they’re looking for a bargain in the store,” Goss said.

Goss said donations are not always sold in the same store. She said they package donations and send the boxes to an Appleton warehouse. That’s where off-season holiday goods wait.

Goss said most donations are displayed in store, tucked away in-house for Halloween or shipped to Appleton. That means a star of David-shaped dreidel may be donated in Oshkosh, go to Appleton and end up on the shelves in Eau Claire.

Along with the budget-friendly prices, sophomore French major Tessa Schiller said she goes to the store for variety.

“I always find the coolest things there,” Schiller said. “Nothing is ever the same.”