By Randy Arrington
STANLEY, March 25 — Horizon Goodwill Industries announced on its Facebook page last Friday that it will be opening a new location in the Town of Stanley in the coming weeks.
Started in the early 1900s in Boston as a way of putting people to work by reselling items from wealthy residents, Goodwill International operates 155 autonomous franchises operating more than 3,500 stores across the U.S. and beyond. Each franchise is assigned a specific territory. Horizon Goodwill Industries is based in Hagerstown, Md. and employs more than 400 people throughout 17 store locations in Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia and West Virginia.
Each franchise exists under the large umbrella of Goodwill International, but each has its own board of directors and plans its programs based on the needs of the region it serves.
“We all have similar missions, but we all do it a little differently,” Horizon CEO David Shuster said earlier this week.
Horizon has purchased a business license and applied for a zoning permit for signage at the Stanley Town Center along Main Street on Route 340 Business. A mid-May opening is anticipated in the former Dollar General location vacated when the retail outlet built an independent structure adjacent to the shopping center a few years ago.
Shuster said the move to Stanley was part of Horizon’s expansion plans.
“We started looking as part of our strategic plan…we started looking at mapping, and expanding south,” Shuster said, noting current locations in Winchester, Woodstock, Stephens City and Harrisonburg. On Friday, the same day they announced the Stanley location, Horizon also posted news on social media of a new Goodwill location coming to Mount Jackson in neighboring Shenandoah County.
“We wanted to start a presence in Page County,” Shuster said. “When we looked at real estate, Stanley made the best sense.”
The available real estate that meet their needs and the centralized location within Page County, lead Horizon to sign a lease on a 7,500-square-foot space adjacent to Food Lion. More than 5,000 square feet of that space will be used as a sales floor to resell donated items, according to Shuster. The Stanley location will employ 10 people, including three leadership positions. Applications are now being accepted for Assistant Store Managers, Shift Supervisors, Sales Associates, and Donation Processors. Go to https://horizongoodwill.org/work-at-goodwill/ for a full list of job openings.
However, beyond the great deals for shoppers and the tax breaks for donations, Horizon Goodwill Industries has an even larger focus on breaking down “barriers to employment,” according to the organization’s CEO.
“We are entering Stanley by bringing a store to the area,” Shuster said, “but we are also looking to bring workforce development programs to the area as well.”
According to Horizon’s website, 90 cents of every dollar earned by the retail stores they operate goes back into job training and other employment services in the area. Some of those services include helping associates with interview skills, creating a resume, developing work skills or experience, utilizing a vocational case manager, or even basic needs like transportation and housing. Currently, Winchester is the closest Goodwill location to Page County providing those services in the Northern Shenandoah Valley, but Shuster says that could change.
“We do intend to provide accessibility to these services,” he said. “We will be focusing on the store first, but then we will build out these programs. We’re looking at various models to expand these programs in Stanley and Page County, but we’re still working on those pieces.”
While traditionally the most underemployed group has been those with disabilities, according to Shuster, in the last couple of decades, and even the last five years, there has been a rise in the need to help those with criminal convictions re-enter society and gain employment. However, many times those seeking help are sent between various agencies and put through an obstacle course of governmental red tape. Horizon hopes to help bridge those services in a way most beneficial to the client.
“We’re going to try to connect more than anything,” Shuster said. “Sometimes it’s hard for people to get all the pieces of a support network together, and they get sent back-and-forth…we can help with that. Anyone can come to us with any barriers they are facing.”
Horizon’s CEO said an earlier store opening was originally planned in Stanley, but they are literally “waiting on shelves” as the steel market saw a rise in demand and thus a longer wait. He says sales are rising in 2021 after receiving more donations in 2020 “than anyone anticipated,” much like many charitable organizations during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Once it opens in mid-May, the Stanley location of Horizon Goodwill Industries anticipates operating from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and noon to 6 p.m. on Sunday. The company’s CEO emphasizes that his organization offers more than just great bargains on household items. He has talked to several local officials about the “limits and obstacles to employment” in Page County — and he hopes his company can help some county residents overcome those obstacles and re-enter the workforce.
“We are more than just a store,” Shuster said, “and we look forward to being a part of the community.”
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