Goodwill closing Harrison location

HARRISON —

Goodwill Industries of Greater N.Y. and Northern N.J. will be shutting down its Harrison facility and moving elsewhere.

Jose Medellin, a corporate spokesman for the nonprofit, confirmed that development last week, saying that the organization is continuing to search for “a new location.”

The move is expected to happen between now and year’s end. Although where the facility will end up has yet to be determined, Medellin asserted: “We are not leaving New Jersey.”

In fact, he added, the nonprofit was scheduled to open a “flagship store” in North Plainfield last Thursday, although that event was abruptly postponed with no explanation.

An announcement posted on the Goodwill website a few months ago attributed to CEO Katy-Gaul Stigge, said Harrison would be one of five of the organization’s 40+ stores to close. (Four are in New York.)

They are casualties, she said, of a “significant structural operating deficit” that, if left unchecked, could threaten the future of the entire NYNJ operation.

In particular, Stigge said, it is the competition from online consumer buying that has impacted the Goodwill thrift “brick-and-mortar retail” operation.

And, she said, while retail “will remain a vital part of our model,” the nonprofit “must adapt to market realities and focus our retail footprint where it can drive our social enterprise ….”

To that end, Stigge said, Goodwill NYNJ will phase out programs that “are not geared toward helping people with disabilities and other barriers to employment find work….”

At the same time, she said, NYNJ “will cut overhead costs across the organization, including reductions in administrative headcount, reducing executive compensation and ending the employer retirement match.”

These reorganization steps are all part of what NYNJ calls “Vision 2020,” designed to keep it sustainable in the near- and long-term future.

Harrison Mayor James Fife said he had no way of knowing how many town residents shopped at the thrift, “but I’m sure there are people from Harrison who go there.”

He said he was unaware of any residents who participated in the nonprofit’s programs for the disabled.

Still, he said, their departure “is probably a loss because it’s a good operation.”

Among the estimated staff of “maybe 30,” the mayor said, “We did have a couple of people from Harrison working there.”         

 

Ron Leir | Observer Correspondent

Ron Leir has been a newspaperman since the late ’60s, starting his career with The Jersey Journal, having served as a summer reporter during college. He became a full-time scribe in February 1972, working mostly as a general assignment reporter in all areas except sports, including a 3-year stint as an assistant editor for entertainment, features, religion, etc. He retired from the JJ in May 2009 and came to The Observer shortly thereafter. He is also a part-time actor, mostly on stage, having worked most recently with the Kearny-based W.H.A.T. Co. and plays Sunday softball in Central Park, N.Y.