GOODWILL announces COVID-19 thrift store policies as stores reopen in Wisconsin


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The second-hand retailer announced new safety precautions amid the pandemic reopening in Wisconsin.

Goodwill Store & Donation Centers of southeastern Wisconsin and metropolitan Chicago announced all donations received at their stores in Wisconsin will be stored for at least three days prior to being placed out for sale to the public.

The step is just one of many safety precautions the second-hand retailer has implemented since announcing it would reopen portions of its Wisconsin based stores after a Governor mandated stay-at-home order was struck down last week. 

GOODWILL reopened in Wisconsin last Friday. On Saturday, Wisconsin had their highest one day total on Saturday, announcing 500 new cases in a 24-hour stretch.

While the 72 hour hold window works for most items, it doesn’t validate all.  Researchers have found COVID-19 can last up to five days on metal, glass and ceramics.  Others like wood have been found to last up to four days on surfaces.  It’s unknown if the company will stop accepting these items during the pandemic.

The changes are expected to be adopted by metropolitan Chicago locations, once stores are allowed to reopen.  The long-standing nonprofit chain has offered a range of pre-owned clothing, furniture and housewares since 1902.  Some in the company, like Goodwill President and CEO said back in March the pandemic was a ‘direct threat’ to the nonprofit’s business model. 

In 2018, GOODWILL  generated over six billion dollars in revenue and the leader in the secondhand sector. According to BLOOMBERG, well intentioned spring cleaners have been dumping off goods at closed thrift stores during the pandemic, creating health and safety risks that end up in landfills.

While thrift store based models are expected to help the country recover from the pandemic, the overflow of donations at closed stores does no one any good, often times costing the stores owners for disposal rather than sorting and sales to help the community.

For shoppers, GOODWILL has safety precautions in place, including:

  • Limited shopper access
  • Customers and employees must wear face masks while in store
  • Social distancing markers on floor for customers
  • Plexiglass sneeze guards at registers
  • Temperature checks by managers for employees when they arrive
  • All employees must wear masks and gloves while at work

In addition to the storage procedures for new items, the store has mandated a no-contact drive through donations process, asking all donations be placed in bags or boxes to avoid loose items. 


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