Goodwill thrives again after bankruptcy, shutdown
Thousands of Las Vegas residents stuck in their homes in 2020 had the same idea – they would donate their matching old T-shirts, shoes, dishes, computers and tchotchkes to Goodwill of Southern Nevada.
In thrift stores, donation centers, and treatment facilities across the valley, the coronavirus pandemic has posed a new challenge: How could the nonprofit operate through massive donations and weeks of shutdowns? stores while helping job seekers?
From long queues to donated clothes and purged household items to new virtual career services and programs, the pandemic has acted as a catalyst for the long-desired changes by the nonprofit known for its thrift stores. Executives hope the increased visibility of the organization during the pandemic will lead to more job seekers in their career centers and online services.
Save money during the pandemic
Nearly sixty days of store closings in spring 2020 posed significant challenges for the organization. Retail operations accounted for about $ 28.2 million of the $ 32.4 million in revenue in 2020, according to financial statements.
“At Goodwill, we primarily rely on these thrift stores,” said CEO Rick Neal. “Retail – shut it down, we smell it immediately and it’s like shutting off the air.”
The early shutdowns caused Goodwill to lay off 322 employees, the majority of whom worked in retail, the association said. These employees were offered the right of first refusal when stores reopened and around 86% returned. The organization received a loan of $ 3.28 million under the Paycheck Protection Program, according to records.
But the shutdown forced Goodwill to focus on things she had wanted to do for a long time, Neal said. It put more emphasis on its e-commerce auction site, as well as sales on Amazon and eBay, and moved career services that didn’t require face-to-face contact to the digital space.
Ecommerce revenue has grown from around $ 1.5 million in 2019 to nearly $ 2 million in 2020, according to last year’s financial statements.
When the retail stores reopened, they were greeted by donors who had just spent weeks cleaning their homes during the closures, Board Chairman Brian Dziminski said. Goodwill received 811,455 community donations of used goods in 2020, up from 793,997 in 2019, according to annual reports.
“Anything you can think of that someone has in their house ends up being goodwill,” Dziminski said. “One of the benefits of (the pandemic) was the number of people who were forced to stay at home during that time and did their spring cleaning, the Marie Kondo, ‘What do I need? What gives me feelings? What can I let go? ‘ We have had a good surge in donations during this time. “
Get out of bankruptcy
The temporary closures followed a difficult time for Goodwill of Southern Nevada. The pandemic forced its retail operations to shut down for almost two months just a year after the organization emerged from Chapter 11 bankruptcy.
The organization filed a case in 2017 when aggressive expansion, large bond sales, and late rent payments prompted the organization to seek bankruptcy protection.
The unpaid interest accrued during the bankruptcy period, August 2017 to January 2019, was written off by the lender and added to the principal amount of the bond, according to the organization’s 2020 and 2019 financial statements.
Goodwill used bankruptcy to reorganize, redefine staff and approach to retail operations, Dziminski said. He hired Neal about two months after the bankruptcy reorganization plan was approved in April 2019.
“Everything turned very positive as we came out of bankruptcy, the approval of our plan and the real increase in our cash reserves and the efficiency of our operations,” said Dziminski. “Then, bam, the pandemics and the next thing you know, we were part of the shutdown. “
In 2017, the association employed around 1,000 employees and operated 21 stores. It has since reduced its workforce to around 800 employees and 16 retail stores.
Goodwill also consolidated its warehouse operations from two locations to a larger warehouse in August 2020, although the plan began before the pandemic. The nearly 113,000 square foot space on Dean Martin Drive near Blue Diamond Road is also home to the Liquidation Center, where unsold retail stores are sold by the pound, e-commerce operations and market processing. recovery.
“I also think what we’ve been through before has put us on a more solid footing to be able to handle this,” said Dziminksi. “Having cash reserves, being more efficient in our operations, being able to overcome this and identify solutions and the opportunities that come with it. “
The goodwill leadership wants to increase its reach throughout the region. Neal said he hopes to open another career center in the valley and one retail store per year over the next several years. Officials are also considering a thrift store in Mesquite, Dziminski said.
Renewed missionary services
The pandemic has encouraged Goodwill to reinvigorate its missionary services. Local retail funds career services from two career centers and some mobile career sites in the Las Vegas area. But the pandemic has pushed online virtual career coaching – along with Microsoft suite training lessons, resume and interview support, and other upgrading training.
Despite the increase in training, the use of career centers declined in 2020. Annual reports show that Goodwill Career Services placed 1,234 people in jobs last year, up from 2,659 people in 2019. Executives suspect that last year’s economic uncertainty has contributed.
“When we reopened we were a bit disappointed with the number of people who actually reached the career centers,” said Neal. “Now the career centers are leaping. We have seen a significant increase in the number of people returning to seek employment, seeking improvement. “
Neal wants the future of Goodwill’s Career Services to keep an eye on how to diversify career training for new career areas in Southern Nevada. He helped facilitate boot camp-style pilot programs last year, including partnering with NV Hope and NV Careers for a week of introductory certified nursing assistants training.
Programs that begin education and certification in fast-growing fields like healthcare, construction, skilled trades and digital skills are at the center of Neal’s attention, he said. While digital skills might consist of teaching someone word processors and other common computer programs, they could also help workers in trades that see increasing use of technology, such as programs that read meters. electric or air conditioning units.
“(Digital skills) can be a ubiquitous term,” Neal said. “It can mean all or nothing, depending on who you talk to. When I use this term, I am not talking about turning people into computer programmers. Digital platforms and digital ways of doing things underpin everything we do to even include some of these skilled trades.