Orange Ave. Goodwill Gone? Not To Worry

The Roanoke Goodwill store on Orange Avenue near Bonsack will close at the end of June and already, there are cries of “the internet did it!” I don’t much think that’s the case.

This is a busy section of a divided highway that has seen struggling businesses for quite a while. The shopping center–Market Square East–is not a lot to write home about, either. It’s low-end, hard to get to and hard to get out of. Big truck traffic at peak hours is interstate insane, and frankly, dangerous.

A while back, a WalMart Neighborhood Market store (one of the smaller WalMarts) closed on the other side of U.S. 460 and a large Kroger closed nearby several years ago, moving east into Bonsack.

Right now, Goodwill has a large presence in Roanoke with six substantial stores/donation centers; two stores/donation centers in Salem and oneĀ  each in Vinton and Troutville; one donation center only and one car donation center in the Roanoke Valley. Bedford has one large center and Blacksburg/Christiansburg have two. It is a big business.

Goodwill, in my view, does not really face a threat from the ‘net. Shopping there–and at most thrift stores–is its own shopping experience. Bargain hunters like me will enter a Goodwill with absolutely no goal but to find something interesting and unanticipated at a bargain price. It is recreation. Two days ago, I bought a new, restaurant-quality panini grill (a $170 value) for $5. I didn’t need it, nor did I anticipate it being there.

I buy clothes at thrifts for a fraction of their retail cost, some of them slightly used, all of them well-made, fashionable and sturdy. I don’t need the clothes, but it’s fun finding the deals and bringing them home (even as I take others to the collection center at the thrift stores).

I’m not aware of any shopping experience on the internet that equates to the thrift store experience, and I shop for quite a few items on the ‘net (camera equipment, electronics, books [Kindle], prescriptions), but never clothes. I don’t and don’t expect to shop for groceries online. Again, it’s about bargains. I love to walk out of a grocery store, totaling in my head the money I saved by being careful.

Don’t blame the ‘net for this Goodwill closing and I wouldn’t think of it being a sign of things to come. This one’s a simple practical closing of a store that is not generating the kind of square foot revenue expected of the modern Goodwill stores, where you’ll often see more customers than in a Belk’s or Penney’s. My guess is that a donation center–if not a store–will pop up nearby pretty quickly. Oh, and Goodwill says the employees (about 15 of them) will still have jobs in other stores.

By admin

Dan Smith is an award-winning journalist in Roanoke, Va., and a member of the Virginia Communications Hall of Fame. He is an author, photographer, essayist, father and grandfather. Co-founder of Valley Business FRONT magazine and founder of the Roanoke Regional Writers Conference. On Advisory Board of New River Voice.

2 replies on “Orange Ave. Goodwill Gone? Not To Worry”

Jeanne: Possibly, but at best only a minor one. GWLtd (Goodwill) is the best run of all the thrift stores (regardless of the controversy over paying its employees less than minimum wage) and most people tossing things, think Goodwill first. Its large number of locations make it convenient for both buying and contributing.

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