PORTLAND, Ore. (PORTLAND TRIBUNE) — Goodwill opened its Airport Outlet store Friday morning. May 22, after a two-month COVID-19 shutdown.
Thrifty shoppers packed the parking lot at 5950 N.E. 122nd Ave. and adapted to the new rules. They had to bring their own surgical gloves and face mask, were limited to 70 people at one time in the store, and only one person could stand at a bin at one time.
Shoppers could be heard cautioning one another when they got too close: “Guys, 6 feet, guys!”
Goodwill outlets or the Bins is the last stop for unsold goods before they are sent off to electronics recycling, formed into fabric bales for export in the developing world, or sent to the landfill. Goods are dumped haphazardly in 7-foot-by-4-foot plastic bins or tables that are placed in groups of six. Tables are changed every three hours.
Janella Wallace was dropping off her sister at the airport so she popped in. She was there buying brand-name clothes, which they both resell on eBay. (Approximately 80% of outlet or Bins shoppers are resellers, but for two months their source of income has been turned off.)
“I’m from Salem. The ones up here are better,” Wallace said.
She had not found anything good. “I think there’s a lot of people today.”
Shopper Kelsey Benson found out about the reopening from the NewsBreak app. Benson, who is into home improvement, was piling her cart with items made from wicker.
“I like to switch my decor out every season, and I come here anyways. So yeah, let’s go,” she said. Benson and her boyfriend live at Southeast 122nd Avenue and Shaver Street. He works at a hospital as an instrument sanitizer. She’s an esthetician so she can’t work. “Brown hasn’t given me the go yet,” she said.
Benson expected to spend $30. “I’m just a deal finder. I can go to Target and look, but I can almost always find what I need here.”
Kenneth Kimmons found out about the reopening on Facebook and showed up within two hours.
“I’m looking for some items to make some custom jeans,” said the young man dressed in a yellow Tupac Shakur sweatshirt and Nikes.
He cuts up distressed denim and adds other fabric behind the rips. He wears them or makes them for others.
A local, Kimmons is a student at Jarvis Christian College in Hawkins, Texas, but came home because it’s online school right now.
“I can wear these all day, but I wear them on nights out, too,” he said.
Bins shopping is as close as retail gets to a contact sport outside of Black Friday sales. Customers normally stand cheek-by-jowl as they sort through piles of used wares, which makes staying 6 feet apart seem counterintuitive. Add to that the fact that everyone is picking up something that someone else just handled, and it could be hard to stop transmission of the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19.
250 rehired of 3,000 let go
Goodwill Industries of the Columbia Willamette reopened its Salem outlet and four stores last week. It is opening five more retail stores this week.
The company closed locations in the Pacific Northwest and around the country in March due to COVID-19 and laying off 3,000. The company has rehired 250 workers, so far.
The retail stores will open at 10 a.m. and the outlets and adjacent drop-off centers will open at 8 a.m. GICW last week reopened four retail stores in Oregon and one outlet and its adjacent drop-off area. The other Portland-area store now open is the Hillsboro Outlet at 2920 S.E. Century Blvd.
Other new rules:
- Donated items are sanitized and quarantined before being sold.
- Register areas are cleaned following each customer transaction.
- Dressing rooms are temporarily unavailable.
- Drinking fountains are temporarily out of service.
While most donation centers are still closed, some stores still have them, including Airport and Hillsboro.
Even donating has gone touch-free. Donors are asked to drop off items in marked donation bins and employees will not remove donated items from vehicles.
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