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New Goodwill store to open May 18 in Willmar, Minn.

The new Goodwill store in Willmar, shown Friday, is nearing completion and plans are being made for the opening on May 18. The new location has 50 percent more retail space. (Tribune photo by Ron Adams)

WILLMAR — A “bigger and better’’ Goodwill store in Willmar will open to the public May 18, the organization has announced.

Goodwill-Easter Seals marketing director Lisa Ritter said the time had come for a new location.

“We had been in the marketplace in Willmar for a long time and that demand for thrift keeps growing. It was twofold: to allow our stores to come up to be the same prototype store that we have across our territory, but also it allows our ability to serve more people and delivering our employment services as well at the local level,’’ Ritter said.

Goodwill-Easter Seals has been in Willmar since 1996 and currently leases about 15,000 square feet at 2424 First St. S.

Ritter said Goodwill leases nearly all of its locations.

Construction of the new 22,600-square-foot store at 100 19th Ave. S.W. began in September 2012. Goodwill-Easter Seals will also lease the new site, which was built and is owned by Willmar 10 Investors, a commercial real estate investment partnership. The project cost including land and building was close to $3 million.

“That’s one thing about our stores: they have a certain size that they need to be and we also have to have the ability to have the … donation drive-through,’’ Ritter said.

The new location has 50 percent more retail space and will enhance Goodwill’s employment training services, she said.

“We have case managers who have a caseload of people who we work with directly either through referral from a dislocated worker program for example or referral from another agency. We serve people who are on a path to return to work,’’ said Ritter.

Ritter spoke of one example of case managers who worked with an individual who had suffered a brain injury. Case managers provided instruction on job application and how to react to the job environment. The individual got a job at The Home Depot in Willmar and receives supported services from Goodwill to help manage daily issues that might arise, Ritter said.

Ritter said all net revenues from its more than 30 retail stores, along with funding from the government, donors and corporations, go directly to mission services. In the Willmar area, 250 people were served through comprehensive employment programs.

“We’ve been already delivering the services. But this new location will allow us to hopefully serve more people in the future,’’ said Ritter.

Also, Willmar is one of three locations with a medical equipment loan program that provides free medical equipment, such as crutches and wheelchairs, for up to three months. In the Willmar area, 953 people used the service in 2012.

The new location opens at 9 a.m. May 18, but those willing to buy a $7 admission ticket at the door will have the opportunity to shop during a preview sale, participate in a silent auction and receive light refreshments at the new location from 4 to 7 p.m. May 17, according to Ritter.

She said the preview sale is like a mini fundraiser for Goodwill. She said such a preview is typical for Goodwill when it opens a new store.

“They are allowed to be the first in the store to shop for all of the newly stocked merchandise in the store,’’ said Ritter. “It raises money for Goodwill.’’

David Little
David Little covers the Willmar City Council, Willmar Municipal Utilities and other city news.
(320) 235-1150