Goodwill planning million-dollar expansion

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WALLA WALLA -- Goodwill Industries is preparing for a roughly $1 million expansion of its downtown Walla Walla store, officials with the discount retailer said.

The nonprofit operation recently bought a neighboring Alder Street building and plans to begin renovations that will add another 6,600 square feet of operating space to its existing 15,000-square-foot store.

Details of the expansion have not yet been finalized, said Scott Shinsato, associate executive director of Goodwill Industries of the Columbia.

He said Goodwill will begin working with architecture and engineering firms for the springtime start of construction work.

The move, he said, is a sign that the Walla Walla market has been a healthy one for the business that sells donated new and gently used items.

"Goodwill's relationship with downtown and the community has really blossomed over the past 12 years," Shinsato said. "I think that in a lot of ways this is Goodwill's way of saying the Walla Walla community has been very good to Goodwill."

The nonprofit organization purchased the building at 229 E. Alder St., immediately east of the current store, at the end of December, according to the Walla Walla County Assessor's Office.

That building had been the longtime home to Walla Walla Upholstery. In 2008, owner Terry Teske sold the property and relocated his business to Spokane Street.

The Alder Street building most recently has housed artist studios.

According to the Assessor's Office, Goodwill paid $715,000 for the property -- $115,000 more than Teske sold it for. Goodwill purchased the building from Chaucer Lane, a limited liability company owned by Walla Walla resident David Leal.

Renovation and expansion will build the total expansion investment to about $1 million, Shinsato said.

Downtown Walla Walla Foundation Executive Director Elio Agostini said the expansion is an exciting development for an area of downtown in the midst of dramatic redevelopment.

In addition to Goodwill, winemaker Charles Smith has taken on a major remodel at the tasting room at 35 S. Spokane St.

On the corner of Alder and Spokane, Laht Neppur Brewing Co. opened a Walla Walla branch late last year.

Agostini said Goodwill's contribution continues to extend downtown's retail attractions beyond Main Street.

"They're are excellent for our community and for downtown," he said.

The mission of Goodwill Industries is to provide job-training and employment services for workers with disabilities and disadvantaging conditions.

But for those who shop there, the operation is also known as a place for discounted treasures -- from clothing to housewares and everything in between.

Shinsato said Walla Walla has developed into a unique market for the operation.

He said the Valley's three colleges likely play into the success of the store, particularly given the sustainability movement.

"More people are really looking at the environmental aspect of what do I do with my stuff besides throw it away," he said.

The donations keep more items from the reaching the landfill while also helping Goodwill become more self-sufficient, he said.

And though Goodwill's other downtown stores tend to be located in urban areas, Shinsato said Walla Walla's high-profile location likely plays into the success of the operation.

"Being a part of downtown has helped us," he said. "Our location has been a central part of the success of Goodwill."

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