MARIETTA — The parking lot was jammed.
Inside Goodwill on Colegate Drive, a line of shoppers briskly moved through the two-lane checkout.
At a table by the entrance, Kaci Neptune distributed literature about Goodwill and answered questions while Mike Carpenter next to her talked to people about the agency’s Senior Community Service employment program, which offers training to low-income residents 55 and older.
The store offered an open house and 50-cent sale — everything except furniture and repurchased articles on sale for half a dollar — to mark more than 50 years in Marietta.
“June 9, 1961, is the first record we have of a store in Marietta,” co-manager Renea Ross said. About a decade ago, the operation moved from Front Street to its location at Colegate and Academy drives, and with the move came a trove of warehouse space, she said, from which the Marietta outlet serves nearly a dozen other stores in the region.
“Today, we’re giving tours of the processing area — we check everything,” she said, gesturing around the preparation area as Jeff Smith wheeled in another massive cardboard box of donated goods on a pallet jack.
In one corner was a workbench used to test electrical appliances and tools, and across the floor, Leslie Poulton and Rachel Carpenter dove into a massive box of donated clothing, piling items on a bench for inspection and racking.
The store employs 14 people, co-manager Judi Luke said.
“It’s a lot of lifting and hard work,” she said.
Goodwill, founded in 1902, is a multi-national nonprofit dedicated to helping people with barriers to employment, ranging from disabilities to criminal records, find jobs and careers through training. The agency uses a massive network of stores that sell donated goods to fund its work. Goodwill operates in 15 countries, has 159 local organizations, and according to its annual impact report from 2017 helped one of every 200 workers in the U.S. placed in a job that year.
The store is most known for low-cost second-hand goods.
“We have the donations, and we want the community to get the deals,” Ross said.
The donation drop-off is a large garage door on the north side of the building. The warehouse area is stacked with the agency’s trademark cardboard boxes, three feet high by three feet wide by three feet deep, along with other articles, including a commercial furnace half the size of an ordinary bedroom, cleaned up and sitting on a pallet.
“We tried selling it but it just didn’t go, so were sending it off for recycling,” Ross said.
About 40 or 50 donations per day come through the door, she said.
Inside the store, Sam and Sarah Moore and their toddler son Oliver strolled away from the checkout, goods in hand.
“We found some clothes for the little guy, and some books,” Sam said. “We live just down the road, so we’re here fairly often.”
Over at one of the store’s many clothing racks, Mary Kate McElroy, 20, and her sister Sara McElroy, 16, looked critically as they held up clothes on hangers. Although the bargain-priced items at Goodwill help many people get by, it’s also a way to support recycling.
“We found matching tops,” Mary Kate said. “And my sister’s working on a sustainability project, so this works with it.”
Kaci Neptune, who is vice-president for workforce development and training and works out of Zanesville, noted that Marietta also has a Goodwill office at 313 Putnam St., a center for job placement and training candidates.
“We’re about providing job skills for people with barriers to employment, enhancing their abilities to be self-sufficient, and these are gainful, interactive, integrative jobs we’re talking about, not sheltered employment,” she said. “We work with all kinds of barriers, not just disabilities; anyone who is struggling.”
More information on the organization can be found at goodwill.org.
Michael Kelly can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
Goodwill Store, Marietta
* Location: 1303 Colegate Drive
* Hours: 10 a.m. to 6:30 p.m., Monday through Saturday, noon to 6:30 p.m. Sunday
* Specialties: Clothing, household goods, games, toys, books and other used items
* Mission: National organization that uses proceeds from stores to fund training programs for people who have a wide spectrum of barriers to employment