Goodwill opened its second store in Glendale on Friday morning as executives, local politicians and throngs of customers looked on.
The Goodwill Store and Donation Center, at 240 N. Brand Blvd., is the 62nd store in the nonprofit's Southern California region, which covers San Bernardino, Riverside and northern Los Angeles counties. Goodwill already has a donation center at 313 S. Central Ave. in Glendale.
"I said, 'Oh, my god,'" said Glendale resident Valentine Nazarian on her first impression of the new Goodwill. "It's different."
The Brand Boulevard store represents a new generation of Goodwill stores, which officials hope will cater to a variety of customers looking to expand their wardrobe or find things for their home without breaking the bank.
Some of the new Glendale store's modernization efforts include open ceilings, double-paned windows, polished concrete floors, fitting rooms and restrooms. The store is also better organized, said Goodwill Southern California Chief Executive Doug Baar.
"This is the kind of store that we have been putting up for the past 15 years," said Baar, adding that opening a new store along Brand Boulevard also eliminates the vacant space that was once there, thus enhancing the look of the boulevard. "They're bright, they're cheerful, they're color-coordinated. They look like a mini-department store."
By the same token, Goodwill is also trying to reshape its image, said Vice President of Retail Peter Duda. Gone are the days, he hopes, when shopping at Goodwill carried a negative connotation, and the stores were associated as a place where only poor people would shop.
"People assume that we're just going to put junkie pictures in here, and we're going to have a bunch of homeless people camped outside, and it's going to be dirty and filthy and be smelly and be all nasty, and we're going to bring this horrible element to the community," Duda said. "We build stores in as good an area as we can find. We build stores in areas that normally you wouldn't think. Areas like this provide us donations."
Goodwill's decision to open a new store in downtown Glendale stems from the high amount of foot traffic the city center receives daily, Baar said.
"You want to have the best location in town," said Terry Takeda, Goodwill Southern California director of real estate.
Proceeds from Goodwill's stores benefit its training centers, which provide work for people with disabilities. The stores also provide education, skills training, work experience and job placement services. Stores in Southern California made roughly $60 million for its training centers in 2009.
Eagle Rock resident Peggy Damian, shopping with her children Chris, 5, and Jocelyn, 2, said she was impressed with the overall cleanliness of the store.
She also disagreed with the bad rap that Goodwill sometimes gets.
"I think everybody can find good things here," Damian said as she shopped for pants.
Standing in line Friday morning before the grand opening, Glendale resident Ivet Shahmoradian was one the first shoppers to enter the store. She made a beeline toward an older-model flat-screen television she had been keeping an eye on through the store window.
"It's pretty cool that they give you the opportunity to get something for much cheaper," she said.