MANKATO — Sara Quast, the manager of Mankato’s new Goodwill store, says the chain’s strategy is to be a better thrift store.
“Goodwill is just so much more advanced than the average thrift store,” she said.
It starts at the donation drop-off bay. A sensor at the driveway lets staff know when a vehicle is ready to enter the enclosed bay. A staff member then hands out tax-exempt forms and, for a short time, coupons for Herberger’s.
They’re looking for donations in good condition — not stained, ripped or torn — but Quast said Goodwill tries to avoid using landfills. Donations that aren’t sold in this store are sent to an outlet, where clothes are bought by the pound, or baled and sold in even larger quantities.
They accept donations up to an hour before the store closes.
Their goal is to make donating as smooth as possible, she said. About 85 percent of the store’s inventory is donated.
“We want to be the destination site of choice,” said Quast, a St. Clair resident.
Clothes take up roughly two-thirds of the 20,600 square-foot sales floor. This time of year, Halloween decorations are prominent. The store markets itself as the place to build one-of-a-kind outfits from donated clothes and non-donated accessories like wigs and makeup. There was a wide variety of gowns, for example — perfect for zombie brides.
The store also prides itself in keeping its inventory fresh; nothing stays for more than three weeks. Every week, each piece gets a tag with a new color, either blue, green or yellow. And every Sunday and Monday, anything tagged with the color for items in their third week is 50 percent off. The Mankato store’s first discount color is yellow.
The store opens today, but had a three-hour preview opening for shoppers willing to pay $7 for the privilege to be the first to go over the goods. About 30 people were lined up for the 4 p.m. opening.
Emily Matzke of Rapidan just happened to show up, and decided to give it a look. She said she grew up in a city with a Goodwill, and was glad to see one had opened here.
She plans a lot of parties, and had already picked up a few candle holders.
Brian Lein of Madison Lake, who heard about the opening through a friend, said he came for a deal. He couldn’t make any judgments about finding said deals before going through the inventory, but said he liked what he saw so far.
Goodwill claims 84 percent of its income goes toward its human services work of helping people find jobs.
Lisa Foss Ritter, director of marketing for the regional Goodwill affiliate, said they are not yet sure what work they will be doing in the Mankato area. The affiliate, called Goodwill/Easter Seals Minnesota, has 30 locations.
Their hours are 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday and 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Sunday. The store is located at 2024 Adams Street, near a Hy-Vee grocery store.