Spring cleaning a busy time for Clark County area Goodwill stores


At least this year the stores are open and ready to accept donations and shoppers

VANCOUVER — A steady stream of cars lined up outside of the Fisher’s Landing Goodwill retail store in east Vancouver on Wednesday, taking advantage of a beautiful pre-Spring day to clear out some unwanted items.

Matt Hunt of Vancouver drops off donations at the Fisher’s Landing Goodwill store on Wednesday. Photo by Chris Brown
Matt Hunt of Vancouver drops off donations at the Fisher’s Landing Goodwill store on Wednesday. Photo by Chris Brown

What was trash to them, however, is treasure to Goodwill. The nonprofit banks on rites of passage, like the annual Spring Cleaning, to restock its retail store shelves for bargain seekers.

“Shopping is down, people are being careful on the shopping side,” said Dale Emanuel, spokesperson for Goodwill Industries of the Columbia Willamette. 

However, that comes with a bright side, she added. 

“Please know the pickings are really good.”

While shopping at a second-hand thrift store may not have been high on a lot of people’s list of priorities during a pandemic, donations have remained relatively steady.

Last year, people in central and northwest Oregon, as well as Southwest Washington, dropped off more than 176 million pounds of household goods. That included nearly 23 million pounds of textiles, such as clothing, 8.1 million pounds of books, and over three million pounds of cardboard.

Goodwill also took in 3.95 million pounds of electronics, much of which ends up being recycled through e-cycle programs in Oregon and Washington.

“That big, huge console TV with the big backside that’s been sitting in your garage forever?” says Emanuel, “it doesn’t have to work. Please know eCycle is a contract that makes certain that things don’t land in anybody’s landfill in any part of the world. So feel comfortable giving us things electronically, that aren’t functioning.”

The Fisher’s Landing Goodwill location in east Vancouver is one of Clark County’s busiest, especially during Spring Cleaning. Photo by Chris Brown
The Fisher’s Landing Goodwill location in east Vancouver is one of Clark County’s busiest, especially during Spring Cleaning. Photo by Chris Brown

When items don’t sell, Goodwill works hard to make sure it’s recycled. Last year, 77 percent of all items donated were sold, recycled, or salvaged. 46 million pounds of items were recycled.

Last Spring, most Goodwill stores were closed due to lockdowns in the early months of the pandemic, but items piled up outside anyway, prompting the company to urge people to wait until they reopened.

Emanuel says unwanted drop-offs are still happening, since about half of their donation centers remain closed due to reduced staffing even as stores reopened.

“To that end, what we ask you to pack your stuff and your patience, to please give it to us in times in which we’re open,” Emanuel says. “The weather might certainly get it, and folks who you don’t intend to get your stuff might get a hold of what you plan to give to help your community access free job services.”

Goodwill’s core mission includes job placement and training services, which are currently being done largely remotely. In 2019, they helped 11,676 people connect with an employer, and held 583 job fairs.

With the ongoing pandemic, Emanuel stresses that Goodwill is continuing to enforce the use of masks, physical distancing, and other safety measures in stores. They also are limiting the donation of certain items, especially anything that is wet.

“We wait for orders from (Washington) Governor (Jay) Inslee,” Emanuel said of their safety protocols. “But we’re really happy to tell folks that because of the support of Clark County, and our Oregon Community, we have been able to slowly bring back our payroll, which is really gratifying.”

For details on the company’s ongoing response to COVID-19, click here.

Advertisement

About The Author

Chris Brown comes to Clark County Today with 15 years of local news experience as a reporter, editor, and anchor at KXL News Radio and KOIN-6 TV in Portland. In 2016, he won an Oregon Association of Broadcaster's award for Best Investigative Reporting for a series on America's Violent Youth. He has also been awarded by the Associated Press for Best Breaking News coverage as editor of Portland's Morning News following the 2015 school shooting at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Oregon. The second oldest of eight home-schooled children, Brown graduated from high school two years early. After several odd jobs, he earned an internship at KXL Radio, eventually working his way into a full-time job. Brown has lived in Clark County his entire life, and is very excited at the opportunity to now focus full-time on the significant stories happening in his own back yard, rather than across “the river.’’ After a few years in Vancouver, he recently moved back to Battle Ground with his wife and two young daughters. When he's not working to report what's happening in Clark County, Brown enjoys spending time with his family, playing music, taking pictures, or working in the yard. He also actually does enjoy long walks on the beach, and sunsets.

Related posts