Goodbye, Goodwill


Carson Jones

The Goodwill in downtown Walla Walla will remain open in the location pictured above until the new store in College Place is ready. As of now, the opening is planned for the spring of 2021. The new store will feature an employee connection center, a new loading dock and easier access for donations.

Kate Grumbles, News Editor

The Goodwill currently located in downtown Walla Walla, on the corner of Spokane St. and Alder St., will be moving to College Place and opening in the spring of 2021.

Goodwill Industries of the Columbia, the larger organization that owns Walla Walla Goodwill, recently purchased a three-acre parcel of land next to the Home Depot in College Place. They plan to utilize this space to construct the store that will replace the Walla Walla location. The new store will be larger than the current location with 20,000 square feet, half for retail space and the other half for warehouse and processing space. Goodwill hopes to start the building process this upcoming March of 2020 and finish in the spring of 2021, but the Walla Walla location will remain open until the new store is completed.

In addition to the store itself, an Employee Connection Center (ECC) will be built on the site with an additional 3,800 square feet.

According to the Goodwill website, “Goodwill’s Employment Connection Center is a free, walk-in job search assistance program helping job-seekers create resumes, prepare for interviews and provides access to community resources and information.”

Ken Gosney, CEO of Goodwill Industries of the Columbia, stated in an email to The Wire that the additional room for an ECC is one of the main benefits of the new location.

Carson Jones

“We currently have an ECC in Pasco and last year we served over 4,000 people and placed over 700 people into jobs throughout the community. We are truly excited to expand those services into the Walla Walla/College Place area and hope to see similar results,” Gosney said. “We will continue our work with employees with disabilities as we always have at the Walla Walla location but the extra space will allow an ECC as well.”

Gosney mentioned that the additional room in College Place is only one reason for the move. Goodwill used to lease 25 parking spots near the store in Walla Walla, but recently lost those spots due to the construction of a new hotel in the area.

“Those spots were great for customers and we’re grateful that we were able to use them for as long as we did. However, it has made it difficult to park near the store and it has reduced our customer traffic which is a problem for a retail store,” Gosney said. “We don’t have any ill-will towards the new hotel and feel it will be a great addition to the area.”

Gosney is referring to the construction of Penrose Hotel, which will be built near the Goodwill site on Spokane Street in downtown Walla Walla. The construction process of the intended 10-story hotel is still in the early stages.

Tracy Warner, Store Manager of the Walla Walla Goodwill, will miss the charm of the current building, but expressed her excitement for the new features that the College Place location will offer. Some of these new features will include the ECC, a more easily accessible loading dock for donations and designated staff parking.

One aspect of the move that Warner is less excited about is the loss of proximity to the Whitman students she meets when they visit Goodwill for holiday costumes, room decorations and general shopping.

“My fear is that we’re going to lose the Whitman students because they walk here,” Warner said. “For me, the Whitman students, they’re a blast. They make my job easier.”

Carson Jones

Kimberly Taylor, a senior at Whitman, has frequented Goodwill in the past and echoed Warner’s concern about the distance from campus.

“From what I’ve heard, they’re going to move into a bigger location so that will be really cool, but I think it will definitely be detrimental for Whitman students,” Taylor said. “The great thing about Goodwill is that you can walk there, so if it’s farther away that will make it a lot harder for students to be able to access it as a place to buy affordable items.”

As of this week, there are no concrete plans as to what will replace the Goodwill in its location on Spokane and Alder.