ALBANY -- Options for bargain-hunters and reuse advocates have expanded as Goodwill Industries of the Greater East Bay has opened a store in a former Blockbuster video location at 505 San Pablo Ave. The store opened July 13.
It's the first time Goodwill has had a store in Albany in its 93-year history.
"We've been looking to open in that area," said Kimberly Scrafano, vice president of development and community affairs. "We're definitely very happy. We've gotten a positive response from city officials, neighbors and businesses."
Scrafano said Goodwill had a gap between stores in Berkeley and Richmond and the new store will help serve shoppers in between, while putting goods back into use.
However, the real purpose of the organization is to help people who are struggling to get jobs.
"Our mission is to do job training and job placement," she said. "Every time we open a new store we create job training and job placement."
Scrafano added that 93 cents of every dollar Goodwill spends goes to programs to help people.
"Our new store in Albany is an exciting addition to our current 25 retail and donation locations throughout Alameda, Contra Costa, and Solano counties," Goodwill's President and CEO John B. Latchford said in a statement. "We received an overwhelmingly warm welcome from local residents and neighboring businesses."
Latchford invited people to see the store and learn about how proceeds are used "to provide
"In fact, this new store alone created seven new jobs in Albany and also seven new employment training positions, which will serve 12 to 14 people every year," he said.
Because of concerns about the clientele Goodwill helps, a proposed store on Solano Avenue in Berkeley was fought by local businesses last year. Some businesses feared a Goodwill store could harm the image of stores trying to serve upscale customers. Scrafano said that's a misconception.
"We're in a lot of affluent communities as well," she said. "We've got a donation center in Moraga. Our average donor is a middle class mother. I think people get mixed up with the folks we serve and who is coming to the store."
Shoppers tend to be high school and college-age kids who like to buy at thrift stores, as well as people who are concerned about the environment, Scrafano said. Some customers would rather buy a used pair of jeans instead of buying a new pair.
The grand opening attracted Albany city council members Marge Atkinson and Peggy Thomsen, as well as a representative from the office of U.S. Rep. Barbara Lee and representatives for several other local elected officials.
Goodwill stores, including the new one in Albany, will have a back-to-school sale on Saturday, when clothing and shoes will be marked 50 percent off.