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S2E3: Soaring to New Heights

Note: What’s Good, Goodwill? is produced for the ear and designed to be heard, not read. We strongly encourage you to listen to the audio, which includes emotion and emphasis that’s not on the page. Transcripts are generated using a combination of speech recognition software and human transcribers, and may contain errors.

(Music fades) 

Michelle: Hello and welcome to our special Airway Heights grand opening edition of What’s Good Goodwill

Alicia:  The podcast where we share what’s good and what’s happening in the inland northwest through Goodwill’s mission to create opportunities that change lives and strengthens communities

Michelle: Strengthens what?

Alicia: Communities!

Michelle: What!


Michelle: I’m your host, Michelle

Alicia: I’m Alicia and today’s episode is packed full of guests. And why is that, Michelle?

Michelle: Listeners may or may not have heard. We’re opening. And that’s right, we’re opening a new retail store, donation center, and the outlet store is relocating. The outlet store, which is currently located in downtown Spokane, will be closing at the end of this month. And once the construction of the new location is complete, we’ll be moving out to Airway Heights.

Alicia: Yay, more parking for everyone.

Michelle: I’m certainly a fan of parking.

Alicia: I’m not.


Alicia: Michelle, can you remind me, what’s the address to that place again?

Michelle: Every time. Every time. It’s at the intersection of Deer Heights and West Flight Drive just outside of Airway Heights. The actual address is 9837 West Flight Drive, Spokane, Washington, 99224.

Alicia: You’re always quick with the addresses. I will not be memorizing that one. Well, we got a couple of guests with us today, right now here, sitting so patiently while we get through our intro is Keith and Eric. Go ahead and tell us who is who and what you do for Goodwill.

Keith: I’m Keith and I’m the Retail Manager at the outlet.

Eric: My name is Eric and I’m a Director in Retail Operations, and I oversee our Transportation Department and our after-retail sales.

Alicia: How long have you both been with Goodwill?

Keith: Well, I’ve been with Goodwill for 15 years.

Eric: I’m going on 16 years, too. 

Alicia: Oh, okay, always got to one up the other.

Michelle: I was about to say, always seeing Keith going first, followed by Eric because uh…Gloves are off gentlemen. Gloves are off.

Eric: We’ve been here the same amount of time. He’s he’s actually been here longer, so.

Alicia and Michelle: Oh, okay.

Eric: Can’t one up him on that but I am going on 16 years.

Michelle: Wow.

Alicia: So do they call that the sweet 16 anniversary?

Eric: I have heard that before. Yeah.

Alicia: Oh, it’s going to be special.

Eric: Absolutely.

Michelle: So have you both been in the same position for those many years, or where did you start?

Eric: I started in donor services at our valley location, and I’ve done various positions all the way up to where I am now.

Keith: Yeah, well, I’ve started it back in 2007 and in Transportation.

Alicia: Let’s. Shall we get into it? Airway Heights. How are you both involved with this new location? What are you guys been doing?

Eric: I’ve been involved in the planning of it since we. Since inception.

Alicia: Sure.

Eric: It’s a it’s been a lot of fun. It’s actually really ours. And we’ve got a great team and things are just progressing right along and we hope to be open on schedule.

Michelle: So there’s no hope.

Eric: There’s only,

Michelle: There’s only do. Moving the outlet sounds like a big undertaking. Are you guys doing it yourselves? Are you working with people?

Eric: We have we have a team that’s coming in to move our large equipment, but the rest of the equipment, all of our bins and shopping carts, and we’re doing a lot of that, moving ourselves. We have a great transportation team and they’re all really excited to help and we should get it moved. With no problem. We’re trying to minimize our downtime on this move that, so hopefully we can do that.

Michelle: Big shout out to the Transportation Department.

(Applause and cheering)

Alicia:  I’m done with that.


Michelle: And Keith, how are how are you associated with this project?

Keith: So Eric’s been popping ideas off of me and trying to get me to open up and find great ways to do things.


Alicia: I love how kind of vague it is. That’s a that’s a that’s a very diplomatic answer. I like it.

Michelle: Keith. What are you excited about with the opening of the new location?

Keith: I’m most excited about actually having the retail store right next to the outlet. It’s something that we haven’t done yet, and it’s something that’s new. And I think it’s going to be hot.

Alicia: Nice

Michelle: Just as long as we don’t drop it.


Alicia: Eric?

Eric: Same thing. This it’s going to be really cool. And we’re going to have customers that have never experienced the outlet store that are going to come over once they try our retail store and vice versa. So it’ll be really cool.

Alicia: I’m excited to see how people react to the like an outlet store that I’ve never been to one. Because yeah, it’ll be interesting. I remember my first time going to the outlet store and it would actually was this year. I had never been to one. And it was interesting. Because it’s quite an experience.

Michelle: Yeah. So can you guys tell us? So for our listeners, thank you for listening If you’ve never been been shopping, what is bin shopping? Because I know that’s the slang on the streets. And then what is it?

Eric: So we put all of our product out in bins, but I think we currently have about 70 bins on our floor right now and it’s kind of a free for all.

Keith: We divide it up between clothes and not clothes and and our customers, they just go through it and they take whatever they can get. And it’s a lot of fun and everything’s sold by the pound and we wear it all almost like a big indoor yard sale.

Alicia: So when you say everything is like priced by the pound, is that I mean, what, what does that all include? Is it just clothing or do you guys do appliances by the pound? In books by the pound?

Eric: We don’t. If something doesn’t make sense to buy by the pound, like, for instance, a bowling ball, you wouldn’t want to pay a dollar 69 a pound for. So we do put individual prices on some of the items, most of it we do sell by the pound, though.

Alicia: Cool.

Michelle: Pretty cool. So what’s your team excited about? Relocating out to Airway Heights? How does the team feel?

Keith: They’re all really excited. They’re really excited to be in a new atmosphere, a new building.

Alicia: So with the new outlet, let me just make sure I have this clear. Well, with the new outlet location is not going to be much bigger than the current one because I know you guys share space with like warehousing and the shopping side of it.

Eric: Actually the outlet store will be about the same size.

Alicia: Okay.

Michelle: We’ve heard you guys have windows. Are you excited for windows?

Keith: Windows and will be really cool skylights. Really nice.

Michelle: Skylights! What are we hearing and exclusive? I don’t think we’ve we knew about the skylights.

Alicia: Oh, I see. I knew about the skylights. Because I’ve been having plans to drop down from the skylights in a Mission Impossible style manner. So which one of you guys gets to clean the skylights?

Keith: That would be me.

Michelle: So you go out to the Airway Heights location and you see a man doing, like the Spider-Man across it, it’s Keith. If you just go, “Yo, Keith!”

Alicia: Can you go into a little bit more about what types of items people can expect to find at the outlet?

Keith: You name it, we have it. Everything you see in our regular retail stores will come through the outlet.

Michelle: Sailboat?

Keith: I’ve seen a sailboat.

Michelle: Have you really?

Alicia: That’s awesome.

Michelle: Are we talking like little miniature sailboat?

Keith: We’re talking one man sailboat.

Alicia: They’re going to say one of the little glass jar sailboat in a bottle. It sounds like a whole new level of the thrill of the hunt. And I can imagine, two, that people who might think like, oh, I don’t you know, I got the best of both worlds.

Eric: They do. It’s a better price. But you definitely have to work for it right through everything.

Michelle: So, Keith, are you hiring?

Keith: We are.

Michelle: Are you what are you hiring for?

Keith: We are. We currently have many positions open. We have material handling positions, donor services positions and also or cashier positions.

Michelle: So what is a material handler?

Keith: So they’re the ones that are going to be placing the items into the bins empty in the bins and moving the boats.

Alicia: How can people how can people find these jobs or apply for them?

Keith: Well, we can go into any of our facilities and get a paper app or we can always find, you know, undiscovered goodwill dot org our electronic application.

Alicia: So is there anything that you want to say to our listeners that would entice them to imply, imply, apply,

Michelle: Other than your team being pretty darn fabulous? What’s what’s the culture like at the outlet, Keith?

Alicia: I got hair looks like a field of weed and a smile that shines brighter than the top of the Chrysler Building come alive.

Keith: You know, it’s we’re real team oriented. We have a great time. We all we all believe in coming to work and enjoying it. In order to do that, you have to be happy. And that’s one thing we do at the outlet is in here at Goodwill is we make sure the employees are having a good time.

Eric: Keith’s really known for the work parties. He throws all the one. Oh, yeah. He’ll cook it up for everybody. He’s really good cook.

Alicia: And I know it’s interesting. I don’t remember ever getting an invite to this party will.

Keith: Usually it’s crock pot stuff.

Alicia: Beans, tons of beans.

Michelle: Last hard question for the two of you. What’s the one thing you would like our donors and shoppers to know about goodwill and or the new location?

Alicia: You can take your time. You can think about it.

Keith: Well, I just want everybody know that Goodwill is a great place to come shop and change your life.

Michelle: Eric

Alicia: Same.

Eric: Ditto. No, we’re we’re working really hard to make this facility really nice, and I think we’re going to have a lot of success with that. So I’m really excited about it. Thank you guys so much for bringing us here.

Michelle: Next up, we’re talking with Kara.

Alicia: Welcome, Kara.

Kara: Thank you.

Alicia: Can you tell us a little bit about what you do for Goodwill?

Kara: I’m the VP of Operations. I’ve been with Goodwill over almost 20 years, I guess now.I started as a cashier at a North Nevada facility.

Michelle: Really?

Kara: Yeah. When I first opened and as a summer job, I had a passion for thrift and a passion for our mission and just continue to move forward with the organization.

Alicia: Do you have a favorite item that you have ever suggested? It’s kind of a loaded question. Michelle: Something that caught your eye?

Kara: So I’d do it is a chair. I still have it in my home. I purchased it in 2006, and it was one that everyone wanted to throw in the garbage because it was so ugly. This beautiful wooden feet and just so unique and gorgeous. And I still have it to this day. And you know that kind of spurred a lot of conversation about what we saw in the stores because people have different interests and passions and not everything is perfect and brand new that people are looking for.

Alicia: So could you send us a picture?

Kara: I could add. It’s a cool chair and it withstands cats. Oh, so it’s like a keeper forever.

Michelle: It’s so we will have the picture of that beautiful chair inside our good bed section.

Alicia: Check out our bits.

Michelle: Check out our bits.

Alicia: So Kara,  how are you involved with the new Airway Heights facility?

Kara: Well, I’m the project manager for the good side, and basically it’s a labor of love that came from a lot of discussion between myself, my team in negotiations with our CEO. And so I’m really excited. It’s our largest project to date. Lots of interesting and fun things are going to be happening there.

Alicia: When you say large, how large are we talking about?

Kara: 60,000 square foot building.

Alicia: So with my hands. Tell me when this could go. So the outlet store is moving out to Airway Heights. So can you tell us why the decision was made to move the outlet store from downtown Spokane out to Airway Heights?

Kara: Definitely. With several different factors that played into the relocation of the outlet. One is convenience for our shoppers. The location we’re currently at the parking does not meet the needs of our customers.

So we really want to give them a great experience when they’re in any of our facilities. So this will be ample parking and space for everyone. The location will have an outlet store on one side, which will be just under 10,000 square feet, and then a retail store on the other side of the facility and will be just over 8000. So two very good size locations.

Alicia: That’s a lot of feet.

Kara: Definitely lots of opportunity for shopping and great items. Great treasure hunting.

Alicia: So what’s going to happen to the old outlet location?

Kara: Well, the old outlet will be our main warehousing, which currently, you know, warehousing is really challenging to find in the Spokane proper. So we’re really excited to be able to use that space to store donations. Our supplies will be moving over there for the entire organization, so it will be able to maximize that space and then our new goods department will be moving over there.

Michelle: Sounds like a big move.

Kara: Yeah, lots of moving pieces. And then the operations team will be located in that facility.

Michelle: So I’m hearing windows. There’s going to be finally Windows.

Kara: Oh, my goodness. So that was one of our main elements in our planning is natural light. So our current outlet has almost zero natural light.

Michelle: It feels like you’re in a warehouse.

Kara: It does. It’s very industrial. The new space is very light bright. We have natural lighting. We have glass doors, just a lot of amenities to make the customer feel welcomed and comfortable while they’re shopping with us.

Alicia: So what makes this new location different compared to any of our other stores or donation centers?

Kara: You know, I think the co-locating is going to change our entire processing methods from taking donations on one side of the building and moving them to a store. And then what’s left over then goes to the outlet. It’ll be really different flow than we’re used to. And it’ll all be contained in one area. So it’s very efficient. And we’re all about efficiencies and being good stewards of our donations and our funds. So it’s really important to us to be as aware of our movement in our time spent doing tasks.

Michelle: Like saving the planet with less transportation, needs, less gas.

Kara: Less gas. Everybody wants to use less gas. So it’s definitely, you know, we’re very mindful of all resources.

Alicia: Speaking of the environment and less gas, can you tell us how the new location is going to help Goodwill’s Initiative of Zero Waste?

Kara: Definitely. It’ll give us more space. And space equals opportunities when you’re working within, you know, the post-secondary market of donated goods. And with recycling The each vendor has requirements of what they’re looking for, how things need to be packaged, keep those items out of the landfill. So for able to access more resources and create more opportunity that’s for that space is going to be critical for that part of our business.

Alicia: Did you say more space equals or bigger space equals more opportunity? So you said, I want that on a T-shirt.

Kara: Kind of a backward ways. But, you know, a lot of to keep things out of the landfill, you have to find somewhere else for it to go. And you want to work with partners that reuse those resources. And, you know, there’s lots of criteria that has to be met in order to ensure we’re compliant. So it takes space, it takes labor, and it takes time and it’s so worth it.

So I’m, you know, close to my heart. And it’s really exciting to be able to expand our post marketing resources.

Alicia: We love the planet.

Kara: We do. We love it. My priority is the employees. We want to get them to work safely. We do have a lot of public transportation users, so we want to make sure we’re mindful of that, ensuring they can get to work safely and efficiently.

Michelle: So the new locations along a bus route?

Kara: It is we’re going to have some navigating to make it work. It’s new area, which is growing rapidly. So the bus routes are changing rapidly. So I foresee maybe some more amenities coming our way here in the future to just make the commute easier. You know, we have a great CEO who is always open to ideas and providing resources to really show and commit to the employees that we understand it is a move and it’s scary, but we’re here to make it as easy as possible for them to transition to the new facility.

Michelle: Kara, what are you excited about with the opening of the new location?

Kara: You know, it really excites me as opportunity to be in a new community. Well, the opportunity to serve a wave heights, we have salvage opportunities to work through the post market and the recycling programs and really, you know, maximizing every donation that’s given to us And I’m excited for the employees to have a better environment light. Like we’re going to be a great outdoor space for the employees, which we currently don’t have. So that will be wonderful.

Alicia: I know this is also a loaded question here. What’s one thing that you would like our donors and shoppers to know about goodwill and or the new location?

Kara: You know, I think something is really near and dear to my heart is each and every day we live our mission. All of us are here because we care about people. We can care about our community. We want people to succeed in life. And we’re here to support anybody on their journey if they choose to be part of Goodwill.

It’s really important to me. I get up every day and I’m excited to go to work. I’m excited to do my part to see the individuals that we serve grow and our employees grow and either move up with us or move on and take those skills with them. So I’m pretty blessed to be here at Goodwill, and I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.

Alicia: Well, thanks for helping expand our Goodwill family.

Michelle: Thanks for joining us, Kara.

Alicia: Thank you so much.

Michelle: Up next, talking to us about our Airway Heights location. We have Mr. Clark Brekky, president and CEO of Goodwill Industries of the Inland Northwest.

Clark: Well, hi. I’m glad to be here.

Alicia: Thanks for joining us. Clark can you tell us who Goodwill is partnering with to open the Airy Heights location?

Clark: Absolutely. We have great community partners. And first, let me kind of take you through the process. We went through a real detailed process. We organized a committee with the board members, and we put out RFP requests for proposals.

And we had to design build teams based proposals for this wonderful project in their way heights. And we landed on Baker Construction and Development as our contractor. And Bernard Wills as our architects. And together, they in a design build process, it’s almost like building a plane while you’re flying it in the air. Oh, in a way.

Alicia: Not chaotic at all.

Clark: No, it’s very malleable. It’s a fluid process. You know, they do the design up front, but they partner with the contractor and with the owner Goodwill to design it, and they value engineer it along the way, meaning that we look at costs of certain items and we work with a contractor to help minimize the cost so we can get the the best value for goodwill and the best value for our customers.

Alicia: So sounds like there’s just a little bit of elbow grease like us and really a new location.

Clark: It’s a big process.

Alicia: Yeah.

Michelle: Can you tell us about Goodwill’s relationship with our partners? Have we ever worked with them before? Or are these new partnerships?

Clark: So we have worked with Baker Construction and Development, our facility down on Front Street. When we first purchase that, that’s where our current outlet store is in our warehouse. They did the owner improvements, so they went. It didn’t used to have all the docks down there. It was just a basic one dock place, a one dock pony.

Alicia: All right.

Clark: So they added docks for us and they did some improvements to put our store in there. And then they built out the offices.

Alicia: Continuing with the new location. Can you tell us how the new location will affect Goodwill’s mission and or the communities that we serve?

Clark: Yeah, this is I think it’s a great expansion of our mission and our services. First and foremost, that’s primarily the way we raise capital or funds to provide mission services. And it’s an outreach for our community. So specifically in our way highlights for our community. We’ll have a new place in which to donate a drive thru donation center.

We’ll have a new store for shoppers in that area. To both the traditional retail and the outlet. And then those funds that are raised through that store will continue to allow us to expand services in our community. For veterans or homeless or risk for becoming homeless for people who are seeking jobs, skills and job training and job placement in our community and for people who are looking for support to learn financial assistance techniques.

Michelle: So why Airway Heights?

Clark: When we evaluate locations, we look at the demographics in the area, the number of households, we look at drive time. We have specific software that that says move here and and if we can raise our capital, raise the capital to do it or afford to do it will either lease or build the ground up. And this happens to be good.

Will build out. We’ll do it. And again, the whole goal is to raise funds for programs and services for people in our community.

Alicia: What are you excited about with the opening of the new location?

Clark: You know, I’m just excited to expand Goodwill’s footprint and presence in an area that we’re not currently servicing in such a direct way. So people drive out there and they see the facility, they’ll think, good, well, and the more people can think about, you know, donating and shopping, they can think about what maybe that means, hopefully. And that is changing lives.

And so we’ll continue to change lives with our presence. And it’s just going to be a great face for the community. That whole building will be hiring an additional roughly 25 team members out there. It’ll just be a great place for our team members to work as well. I’m looking forward to that.

Michelle: Clark, what is one thing that you would like our donors and shoppers to know about Goodwill and or our new location?

Clark: As I speak to the donors, I can’t thank them enough and we can’t thank them. Team members and the people we serve because that’s what drives all of our services are people looking at their houses at night and in the morning and going you know, this item, these clothes I haven’t worn in a while, I don’t need this lamp anymore.

You know, maybe these collectibles don’t mean enough to me anymore. I’m going to give them to a good cause, and they can be assured that goodwill will take care of those and that will create the best and highest use of those for gaining that value and turning those into funds and services for people in our community.

So to our donors, thank you and to our shoppers to come and cut the ribbon for us with us.

Michelle: How many stores have you opened since you’ve been the CEO?

Clark: Oh, my gosh. How many new stores have we owned?

Michelle: How many times have you gotten the big giant scissors and you’ve cut the ribbon?

Clark: Well, I think Post Falls is a newer store. The Downtown the outlet store. The store on Northwest Boulevard is new. This is a new one. The South Hills store is a new one. So what’s that? Five. So there we go.

Alicia: We want to thank everybody for joining us today and giving us the scoop on the new Airway Heights location.

But wait, there’s more. Check out our good bit section and you’ll find some interviews that we did with Baker Construction and Bernadette Wills Architects. So those are the people that are right on the ground closest to the project.

Michelle: If you’re more of a video person than a podcast person or you want to see some footage behind the scenes, then check out our good bits page and you can see the video with the interviews.

And the top secret footage might show a skylight or two maybe.

Since we first recorded this podcast, Keith has now been promoted to Division Manager of the outlet.

Alicia: Congratulations to Keith!

Michelle: Come see us in April 2023 for the grand opening of the Airway Heights Store.

(Music fades in)

(Music fades out) 

Michelle Hey, if you’re hearing this message, you’ve listened to our new episode all the way to the end. And for that, thank you.

Alicia And don’t forget to keep up with what’s good by following us on Social Media, on Facebook, @INWGoodwill, Instagram @Goodwill_INW, Twitter @GoodwillINW and TikTok @GoodwillINW.

(Music fades out) 

Eric: So my wife asked me the other day where I got so much candy. I said, I always have a few twix up my sleeves.


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