Thrift store thriving

By Ed Brock

Ahmed Abdul is one of the reasons why Goodwill is expanding its thrift store in Jonesboro.

For 10 years now 55-year-old Abdul of Jonesboro has come to the shop, or the Goodwill store in Stockbridge, two or three times a week to buy electronics and other items that were donated to the store.

"I clean them up and sell them at the flea market," Abdul said.

In June Goodwill began expanding the 10,000 square-foot store on Ga. Highway 138 and N. Main Street by 8,000 square feet. The total selling floor will be 12,500 feet.

"We've just had such a great customer base and donor base here," said Jim McKinney, Goodwill's director for donor services. "We've been in this market for 15 plus years."

The expansion of this and other Goodwill stores could be considered a sign of the ongoing popularity of thrift stores in general. A new thrift store has opened on Jonesboro Road in Jonesboro, the Last Chance Store on Mt. Zion Road is kept busy, especially on Monday half-price days and the Value City in Forest Park is booming as are all thrift stores across Clayton County and other metro Atlanta areas.

The reasons are varied.

"Atlanta's population continues to grow. And of course the people here are gracious enough to donate to Goodwill," said Brian East, director of operations for Goodwill.

There's also been an improvement in the quality of goods donated to the thrift stores, said Goodwill spokeswoman Yolanda Kokayi.

"Thrift stores from years ago were not really competitive with retail stores like the Gap," Kokayi said. "Now people are just donating their old stuff but also some more re-sellable items, things they just got from the Gap. There's some real values in there."

That's what attracts 33-year-old Sheneva Hicks of Jonesboro to the Last Chance Thrift Store on Mt. Zion Road in Morrow.

"You get good deals," Hicks said. "Some of these clothes are new. Nobody can tell the difference."

And it's not just one class of people who are looking for bargains in thrift stores, said Last Chance manager Aletha Shepard.

"I have airline pilots, doctors, veterinarians," Shepard said. "I have attorneys, CPAs, people from all walks of life come in here."

April Woodall, 38, of Jonesboro comes to the Last Chance looking for bargains, but she also likes "things from the past."

"You find things here that you don't find in the store," Woodall said.

The Goodwill store uses most of its profits to support its ongoing charity programs. Donating to them is tax deductible, Kokayi said.

Clothes should be washed before they are donated to the Goodwill and appliances and electronics must be functioning. Furniture must be useable. Also, they do not take mattresses or large appliances.

As for determining the prices of these donated items, East said teams from the corporate headquarters go out regularly to their retail competitors and make sure their prices are lower.

The new addition is scheduled to open some time in October.