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Goodwill closing its Dade City store

DADE CITY — Suzanne Desneux eyed the jewelry rack at Goodwill, looking for the perfect necklace to rip apart.

The 64-year-old Dade City artist and jewelrymaker pops into the thrift store chain at least once a week, hunting for unusual trinkets to paint, re-craft or, in rare cases, wear as is.

"I think of Goodwill as an adventure," Desneux said Wednesday as she trolled through the store for goodies.

But in Dade City, the Goodwill adventure will soon be over. After a 15-year run, the city's Goodwill store closes Aug. 16.

Blame a lack of donations, low returns and a shift in the business plan.

"We have to change with the times, just like other retailers have," said Michael Ann Harvey, vice president of marketing for St. Petersburg-based Goodwill-Suncoast, which runs 19 stores in 10 Florida counties, including Pasco. "It's not possible anymore to operate small, quaint, backstreet thrift stores. They just can't survive."

The nonprofit's newest retail ventures are Goodwill Superstores, which are bigger than traditional stores, and typically see 10 times the clientele.

This year, the organization opened two such Superstores in Spring Hill and St. Petersburg.

The goal is to compete with other discount retailers, stores like Big Lots, Bealls Outlet and the Dollar Store — all of which have shops in the same State Road 301 shopping center as the Dade City Goodwill.

Ironically, these big name retailers are where Bertie Hassell, 70, will shop once the Dade City Goodwill closes this month — though she would like to remain loyal to the shop that just sold her a $2 pair of black work pants.

"If (Goodwill) opened up a bigger store, we would surely go there too," she said.

But there's no plans to open up a new store —big or small — in Pasco any time soon.

Goodwill-Suncoast has "tentative and pending" plans for a Superstore in south Pasco, but no date has been set.

Proceeds from Goodwill stores help fund the nonprofit's other efforts, which include workforce development and employment programs, as well as housing for the elderly and people with disabilities.

Currently, Goodwill-Suncoast has helped 16 disabled Dade City residents find employment, Harvey said. The nonprofit will continue to serve the area, just not in retail.

The 12 full- and part-time employees at the Dade City store will have the opportunity to transfer to other Goodwill stores as openings occur, Harvey said. Its unclear at this point how many positions will open and whether the current employees, who are not allowed to talk to reporters, would want to make the commute.

In June, Goodwill-Suncoast shut down a Holiday store. The Brooksville Goodwill store closes in January.

Helen Anne Travis can be reached at htravis@sptimes.com or (352) 521-6518.

Goodwill closing its Dade City store 08/06/08 [Last modified: Tuesday, August 12, 2008 3:39pm]
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