Newnan East Goodwill opening rivals Black Friday
by SARAH FAY CAMPBELL
Hundreds turned out for the opening of the Newnan East Goodwill retail store and career center on Thursday, packing both the parking lot and the store.
It was clearly one of the biggest business openings ever in Coweta, rivaling the opening of the Chick-fil-A Dwarf House in 1992.
A long line stretched into the parking lot as eager shoppers wanted to be among the first to shop at the new store, which was stocked with merchandise that appeared to be a step up in quality from what is normally seen at a Goodwill store.
The parking lot was overflowing, with shoppers parking anywhere they could, including on an access road and in the nearby parking lot of the former Blockbuster Video.
One might think it was a line trying to get into a Black Friday sale, if it wasn’t daylight ... and oh so hot.
The grand opening ceremony included words from Goodwill of the Southern Rivers CEO Jane Nichols, and Goodwill “success story” Florraine Johnson.
Johnson was seriously injured in an auto accident. She had a long road to recovery and had to learn to walk again. When she walked into the Goodwill job placement center, she said, “I was really distressed and depressed.” That was because she wasn’t able to take care of her needs, even with the help of Social Security payments.
She filled out the necessary paperwork, and the next morning was awakened by a phone call saying she had been approved for their “ticket to work” program. “The team has been great to me,” she said. They worked with her to walk her through things and helped her with her resumé.
“I just wanted to say to those that are seeking positions — to be encouraged. It’s going to come. But don’t give up,” she said.
She asked those there to continue to support Goodwill by shopping and donating. “Because they are supporting our community. They can change your life. They have helped me with a change in my life.”
“Today is all about them,” Nichols said as she pointed to the store’s 24 new employees. The store was stocked with 37,000 items, she said.
“None of this could have happened without you guys,” she said to the crowd.
People in Coweta have supported the organization through the years, she said. “You have continued to donate, and shop. Your shopping helps create this and expand our mission services,” she said.
Money raised at Goodwill goes to the “mission services,” which include job placement and training.
The career center is open now but in the future there will be “many more services,” Nichols said. “We ask that you keep donating your items and keep shopping and keep telling your friends about it.”
The career center is now open with computers for job seekers, as well as access to telephones, fax machines and scanning. Programs will start in August, according to Career Center Manager Chris Bryant.
The Goodwill East center is located on Hwy. 34. East at Highway 154, Thomas Crossroads, in the former location of Save Rite grocery.
Store hours are Monday through Saturday 9 to 8 and Sunday 1 to 6, and career center hours are 9 to 6 Monday through Thursday and 9 to 3 on Friday.
Inside, Linda Kettner had a buggy full of items, including several lamps. “I love this store,” she said. Kettner figured there would be a good crowd but “we never expected a line out in the front of Goodwill,” she said. “It’s just like Christmas” shopping.
“I think it’s awesome,” said Ani Trias. “I think it’s a good area for it. I wish it was bigger, though,” she said. She had an armload of dresses and skirts, but they weren’t all for her. “For me, my daughter, friends… There’s always something you can get for somebody else,” she said.
“Goodwill represents a lot of things in our community,” said Candace Boothby, president of the Newnan-Coweta Chamber of Commerce. “More than anything it represents a fantastic partnership to bring good things to our community, to help people in need, help families and, of course, help people find jobs,” Boothby said before the ribbon cutting.
“I hope you guys spend a lot of money today,” she said. “Just remember you help make Coweta the great place it is.”