Bigger location; more services: Goodwill to offer more programs at new facility

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GREAT BARRINGTON — Goodwill Industries of the Berkshires and Southern Vermont is preparing to expand the services it currently offers in Great Barrington this spring after the nonprofit moves into the former Sears Outlet store, which was sold earlier this month.

Developer Craig Barnum, of Great Barrington, recently purchased the former Sears store and an adjoining commercial property on Stockbridge Road for a combined $1.2 million, according to documents filed at the Southern Berkshire Registry of Deeds in Great Barrington. He will run them under the entity CMB Stockbridge LLC.

Goodwill has signed a 10-year lease to use the former Sears Outlet store, according to David Twiggs, the nonprofit's president and CEO. A grand opening celebration at the new location is tentatively scheduled for May, he said. The new facility will also house a retail store.

"We're here to stay," Twiggs said.

The former outlet store is much larger than Goodwill's current Great Barrington facility at 396 Stockbridge Road. It will allow the nonprofit to hold more programs in Great Barrington and expand the number of employees from the current eight to between 14 and 20, Twiggs said. Hiring is expected to begin next month.

Once Goodwill is situated in its new surroundings, it intends to introduce Rise Up, the nonprofit's nationally certified retail training program, to the area. "We're hoping to add more services," Twiggs said. "We understand the community is in need of services."

Goodwill of the Berkshires and Southern Vermont currently operates regional centers in North Adams and Pittsfield, and in Bennington, Vt., and Rutland Vt. It has had a presence in Great Barrington for 13 years, according to Twiggs. But for the first 10 years, the nonprofit's status in Great Barrington was as an "attended donation center" represented by a truck that accepted donations and was located in a bank parking lot on Saturdays.

BIGGER SPACE

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The former Sears Outlet store includes 8,300 square feet, much more than the 2,500 square feet contained in Goodwill's current Great Barrington location. The new store's sales floor alone contains 5,600 square feet.

"The back room is actually the size of the store we're located in now," Twiggs said

The site also contains plenty of parking and a loading dock for deliveries, according to Barnum.

"Logistically, this just makes so much sense," Twiggs said.

Goodwill is also looking to expand its services in the Northern Berkshires. The nonprofit recently received a $7,500 grant from Greylock Federal Credit Union to expand its "Suit Your Self" program from Pittsfield and North Adams into Williamstown later this year.

"Suit Your Self" assists employment seekers with job interview preparation, coaching and business attire at no charge, providing program participants with a support system and an opportunity to gain self-confidence as they enter or re-enter the workforce. The funds will also be used to provide dedicated classroom space and enhanced services at Goodwill's retail location at 166 State St. in North Adams.

The other commercially zoned parcel that Barnum purchased on Stockbridge Road includes a two-and-a-half story house that formerly housed a sandwich shop, and has a small apartment on the second floor.

"I'm actually considering what do with that location," Barnum said. "It could be a good office or a bakery."

Business Editor Tony Dobrowolski can be reached at tdobrowolski@berkshireeagle.com or 413-496-6224.


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