Archive for Wednesday, January 4, 2006

New manager takes over after problems at Goodwill

Leadership change occurs after store rejected donations last week

January 4, 2006


There's been a shakeup at Goodwill.

The Lawrence store's interim manager is out. A new manager, Samm Lassiter, started late last week.

The change in managers, Goodwill officials acknowledged Tuesday, was in response to recent reports that workers had rejected donations because the store's back room was full.

The reports were the subject of a story in Saturday's Journal-World.

"I read the story online. I saw the reader responses, too," said Tom Dooley, vice president in charge of marketing at Helping Hands of Goodwill regional office in Kansas City, Mo.

"I found them rather disturbing," Dooley said, noting that after the story appeared, he received "several phone calls that were similar to the reader responses."

Samm Lassiter, the new manager of the Goodwill Store, 2200 W. 31st St., sorts through the mountain of donations the store has received leading up to the new year. Lassiter was brought on board after the store was refusing donations during what is usually its busiest time for receiving them.

Samm Lassiter, the new manager of the Goodwill Store, 2200 W. 31st St., sorts through the mountain of donations the store has received leading up to the new year. Lassiter was brought on board after the store was refusing donations during what is usually its busiest time for receiving them.

The responses included accounts of donors being turned away, rude treatment and unopened bags of clothing being tossed in a nearby Dumpster.

Dooley said he and others at the charity's regional office were unaware of the situation.

"Lawrence is an outlying location for us. It's not a store we visit with much regularity," he said. "But it will be now."

Dooley said plans call for someone from the regional office to visit the Lawrence store, 2200 W. 31st St., two or three times a week.

"Our policy is clear - we accept donations," he said. "We don't turn people away."

Last year, the Lawrence store generated $700,000 in sales.

Helping Hands of Good Will Industries operates thrift stores in Kansas and Missouri, helping and employing people who are homeless, unemployed or disabled. The stores sell secondhand clothing, housewares, furniture, books, CDs, tapes and records.

Clothing sales account for about half of each store's revenue.

Dooley said damp clothing could not be sold and would be thrown away. Stained or torn clothing will be sold for rags.

Lassiter, who recently completed a training program for Goodwill managers, says she is ready to put the incident behind her.

"I am the general manager now. We have a mission; all we can do is go forward and get it done," said Lassiter, a Lawrence native and a U.S. Marine Corps veteran.

Dooley denied a reader's allegation that Goodwill raised its prices in response to the Salvation Army thrift shop's closing in July 2005.

"We raised our prices 6 1/2 percent on Sept. 1," Dooley said. "But it wasn't just in Lawrence, it was across the entire region."

Several readers urged would-be donors to take their goods to Penn House, 1035 Pa., where they are given away rather than sold.

"We take anything that's usable. It's all free," said Linda Lassen, director of human resources at Penn House.

"There are times we have to turn people away because we get so full," she said, "but it's usually just for a day or two."


anggrn99 11 years, 11 months ago

Great Job!!!

Now if we can only get ALL companies to do the same when they know there management is in the wrong!

LeAnne Stowe 11 years, 11 months ago

Um... someone should check the other goodwill stores in KC because they DO turn down donations and it is well known throughout the community. In Olathe they had a large sign the last time I was there saying what stuff they would NOT take.

scary_manilow 11 years, 11 months ago

Turning away donations isn't the sole reason for this restructuring... It was just the straw that broke the camel's back. Anyone who shopped regfularly at the Goodwill knows that this change has been a long time coming.

blessed3x 11 years, 11 months ago

So when is enough too much? Did you see that picture? Bags of donations piled to the roof! Is it enough when you have too much to sort through? Is it enough when you don't have shelf space to display items? Is it enough when you can't walk down the aisles without stacks of merchandise falling on your head? Is it enough when you can't get the doors open anymore? Be reasonable. Sure people donating items should not be treated rudely, but there comes a time when a business just can't handle any more merchandise. I don't know the situation at the Goodwill store, but it seems illogical to adopt a company policy that anything and everything will be accepted.

scary_manilow 11 years, 11 months ago

Umm... The shelves at Goodwill are usually pretty barren. And many of the employees act put out any time you ask them to do anyhting other than wander around listlessly... Maybe the bags wouldn't be piled to the ceiling if they displayed more imperative, I don't know... I DO know that there's no excuse for a so-called "charity" to throw as much useful stuff in the garbage as they do. Clothes, furniture, household supplies... All kinds of undamaged, perfectly usable stuff ends up in their dumpster all the time. At one point, they were breaking bottles and throwing bits of broken glass in the garbage to keep trash diggers away. Pretty "charitable" if you ask me.

black_watch 11 years, 11 months ago

the reason the store is empty and the employees wander around aimlessly is the same reason that they did that at the salvation army in lawrence before it closed down - the employees were robbing the stores blind of all of the "good" stuff, either for themselves, for their friends, or to sell at stores that purchase used goods (pawn shops, used record/movie/video game stores, clothing stores, and so forth). This is extremely, extremely common in my experience, having met several folks who did this frequently, hearing stories of their co-workers' latest scores, and seeing firsthand the merchandise they were coming home with. The method is this: they or their co-worker at the register will ring them up for pennies, so that it looks like they're buying a common, cheap item on a receipt. Since these stores tend not to use barcode scanners and the like to track inventory, it never gets noticed when they walk out with hundreds of dollars worth of merchandise for mere dollars or cents. Elsewise it's just slipping small items to the side or in the pockets until the end of the day and hauling them off. Quite an amazing scam that denies real poor people some amazingly charitable and cool stuff.

onlyinks 11 years, 11 months ago

I know for a fact the employees take the best items for themselves, friends and family. I had wondered why the quality of items had gone down, and then I found out about the practice of employees taking the best stuff.

Oddball 11 years, 11 months ago

I saw the merchandise being unloaded from the truck at the Salvation Army store in Lawrence several times. Every reasonably nice piece of furniture that came off the truck did so with a sold sign already on it......

ebolarama 11 years, 11 months ago

Everyone should probably realize that they are not god's gift to the world, for turning in a pair of pants.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.