- The Washington Times - Sunday, February 19, 2006

Goodwill is saying out with the old and in with the new.

Goodwill of Greater Washington isn’t clearing out its donated goods, but has made room on the shelves for new merchandise such as candles, socks, detergent and other household products.

In the six months since new products have been sold in four of Goodwill’s nine area stores, sales have risen about 10 percent, said Gene Ficarra, vice president of retail operations.

It is part of Goodwill’s rebranding move that also includes making store signs more colorful and advertising its mission: to provide job training to disabled and disadvantaged people.

“We’re redesigning the stores to make them more contemporary and more colorful for the people who purchase goods … and [generate] more revenue for our job-training programs,” said Brendan Hurley, vice president of marketing and communications at Goodwill of Greater Washington.

Sales have risen 8 percent to 10 percent, or “a couple thousand dollars per week,” from the new merchandise alone, Mr. Ficarra said. Goodwill stores generate annual sales of nearly $9 million.

The most popular new items are candles, socks and pillows.

“We’ve also seen a small increase in the donated portion of the business due to the fact people are in there shopping and buying more than they thought they would buy,” Mr. Ficarra said.

“It’s a supplement to the vintage products on sale,” Mr. Hurley said.

Goodwill’s Laurel, Gaithersburg, Sterling, Va., and Northeast D.C. stores stock the new merchandise. Its other stores in Arlington, Falls Church, Manassas and Rockville will begin selling the products in the next month or so, Mr. Ficarra said.

About 10 percent of the merchandise is new, and Goodwill plans to increase that number to no higher than 20 percent to 25 percent.

“We’re a donation-driven business,” Mr. Ficarra said. “That’s what we’re focused on.”

Granite Bay Sales, a Roseville, Calif., wholesaler, is the exclusive distributor for the Goodwill stores in the District, Baltimore, Fredericksburg, Va., Wichita, Kan., and Sacramento, Calif., that sell new products.

Rappahannock Goodwill Industries Inc. in Fredericksburg began selling new items from Granite Bay in July.

“Basically the main reason we looked at this is that we could enhance the product line and make it more convenient when customers are shopping for household items and clothing. They can also find health and wellness items, beauty items and batteries,” said Mike West, vice president for marketing and development.

The five stores in the Fredericksburg area generate $3 million in annual sales. Since July, about 8 percent of the sales have been from new merchandise, he said.

Six of the 19 stores in the Goodwill Industries of the Chesapeake in Baltimore began selling the new items about a month ago, said Doug Hiob, senior vice president of retail operations.

The items, including shampoo, purses, blankets and book bags, probably will make up about 7 percent of store sales.

Goodwill plans to expand the product line to all stores, he said.

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