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Goodwill opening draws large crowds

Though he lives close to Goodwill of North Georgia’s newest location, one Forsyth County resident camped out in his car Wednesday night to ensure he would be first to enter the Cumming store.

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On Thursday, hundreds lined the thrift store’s sidewalk, which is located at the southwest intersection of Larry Mulkey Memorial Road and Atlanta Highway (Hwy. 9 south).

This is the county’s only location since the 2015 closing of a previous store in nearby Merchants Square Shopping Center.

“I’ve been hearing so much from the staff about how excited the Goodwill team has been about opening this store and wanting to get quickly reintroduced to the community,” said Keith Parker, the nonprofit’s president and CEO. “I’ve seen very good [merchandise] in this store, much of [which] has been donated by the local Cumming community.

“I’m thrilled and will forever be bonded with this team of employees; we have about 40 full-time workers in this store. Because this is my first [opening], it’ll always be special.”

Parker accepted his position as CEO in early October.

Elaine Armstrong, vice president of marketing, said the line was a good indicator of how many people will benefit from the new store.

“Our Goodwill shoppers know that inside of these stores, especially on grand opening day, they can find lots of great bargains and the front of the store to the back stocked with clothes, shoes, books and anything that you can find,” she said. “They know to expect quality when they come, and they are ready.

“We like to say shopping at Goodwill is like a treasure hunt – you never what you’re going to find. Unlike traditional retail where you might find five of the same black blouses on that rack, everything is personal to you.”

In the 2017 fiscal year, Goodwill, which has provided services in the region for more than 90 years, provided job training and employment services to 52,485 people and helped 24,188 people find jobs or start new businesses.

The organization currently operates 60 stores and 58 attended donation centers and Parker said this year, the goal is to help 25,000 people find jobs.

“Our mission is to put people to work and this store was the first to hire people directly,” he said, “and the 40 employees will eventually build that number to a more significant number.

“We take profits we can make from this store and put it into work from outside this community.”