A Goodwill store opening Friday in Charlotte is offering fans of thrift stores “the store of the future,” according to the nonprofit.
Goodwill Industries of the Southern Piedmont is debuting the first prototype store featuring a brighter, open floor plan on Friday at 4835 Shopton Road in Steele Creek. It’s the 34th Goodwill retail store in the region.
What’s new at the Steele Creek store includes everything from the technology to the colors and the lighting, said Jose Luis, chief operating officer for the local Goodwill.
While other Goodwill stores have implemented some of the changes, “this is the first store where it all comes together because it was designed for this store,” Luis said. “It’s to bring a better experience for our customers, donors, team members and community as a whole to make this a more inviting and welcoming place.”
What to expect at the Goodwill store
There are several new fresh features thrifters will notice at the new Steele Creek store, and others happening behind the scenes:
▪ There’s a new entrance “tower element” that is both helpful and symbolic, Luis said. The large glass foyer entrance adds natural light in the store and is visible from a distance for shoppers and donors, he said. But it also symbolizes “the reach to the sky and reach for the opportunities.”
▪ The 21,000-square-foot store has a front seating area for relaxing or waiting with shelves of books. The large open floor, like other Goodwills, has racks of color-coordinated clothing, and a space for accessories, housewares and furniture.
▪ A locally-owned business — a cafe or service provider like a salon or barber — will have 2,000-square-feet of space, plus storage, at the site. “We’re looking at different opportunities and people who may be interested,” Luis said.
▪ A 600-square-feet community room has capacity for about 20 people. The room can be rented for events and parties, Goodwill’s event manager Amanda Sundling said. General pricing is $100 for a four-hour rental, and includes tables and chairs. A roll-up exterior door leads to a patio for more space.
▪ For donors, there’s a double-lane donation drop-off with taller overhang for trucks.
▪ A hand-painted outside wall mural will be designed by a local artist in partnership with ArtPop Street Gallery. Steele Creek is considered to be in an art desert, ArtPop director of inspiration projects Dylan Bannister said. “To me, this is a big deal,” said Brooke Gibbons, director of impact and sustainability with ArtPop, who moved to Steele Creek in 2011. “It’s the first piece of public art here and it is something that will be representing our community.”
▪ The backroom, which is larger than most other Goodwill stores, is designed to be more efficient, Luis said. Merchandise donations are pre-sorted with clothing going through one door, and furniture and housewares through another with easy access to the retail floor. “So it’s a much shorter transit,” Luis said. The backroom covers about one-third of the store.
▪ New technology also has been installed for efficiency. A new computer process system will sort and keep track of all items in the store, replacing the laborious manual process, Luis said. “This is getting rolled out in all stores,” he said. The new store also will be the first in the region to use artificial intelligence to count the number of donors instead of an employee keeping track. AI will take a picture of the vehicle and identify if it’s a donor.
▪ The design and vision of the new store prototype came together in three days in summer 2021 based on the collaboration of 20 Goodwill employees from different departments, Luis said. On the third day, Charlotte-based architect firm Little began designing the store.
“This prototype was pretty much exactly what was drawn on that day,” Luis said.
Some of the new ideas have already been implemented in other stores, such as community rooms and vendor space, “but this is the first store that is full-scale of what that team envisioned,” he said.
Luis declined to disclose the cost of the new Steele Creek store. It will have about 35 full- and part-time employees.
Other recent additions by Goodwill
The new Steele Creek store is part of Goodwill’s expansion plan announced last year to open 25 retail stores and donation centers over the next five years. The expansion includes opening an outlet store and warehouse this year at 1179 Galleria Blvd. in Rock Hill.
Goodwill has created 240 jobs in the Charlotte region at its retail stores.
Last year, Goodwill opened one of its largest stores in the country in Shelby, less than 50 miles west of Charlotte. It was the second location in the Southern Piedmont with the new store concept following Rockingham’s debut in April.
Several traditional stores opened last year, too, at Idlewild Road, Wendover Road and Ballantyne in Charlotte, as well as in Belmont and Denver.
In 2018, Goodwill moved its boutique-style shop with designer and brand-name women’s and men’s apparel from Goodwill’s Leon Levine Opportunity Center at 5301 Wilkinson Blvd. to South End.
Goodwill also has opened its gaming and electronics tech store called The GRID at its west Charlotte campus and inside some other stores. And, Goodwill sells donated items online at ShopGoodwill.com.
In 2022, Goodwill Industries of the Southern Piedmont generated nearly $63 million last year from its 25 retail stores and 30 donation sites, and served 6,112 people. Last year, it served 9,000 people, Goodwill spokesperson LiZeatra Wilson said.
The regional Goodwill employs over 900 workers at its stores, donation and career centers, and offices.
About Goodwill Industries of the Southern Piedmont
Goodwill Industries of the Southern Piedmont opened in 1965 as an independent Goodwill affiliate agency with fewer than 20 employees. The nonprofit now has more than 1,200 workers.
Goodwill has 34 retail stores in 13 counties in North Carolina and five in South Carolina in the Charlotte region, according to its website. The 18-acre Goodwill Opportunity Campus opened in 2016 at 5301 Wilkinson Blvd.