March 13, 2010

Goodwill opening big new store at the former Circuit City location

The South Portland store, which will open March 26, will be one of the largest in Maine.

By Justin Ellis jellis@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

Goodwill Industries has made a business out of using one person's unwanted things to meet the needs of others. So it seems only fitting that the nonprofit retailer is taking over space left vacant by a national chain store.

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The new Goodwill store, a few blocks down Payne Road from the Maine Mall in South Portland, will replace the former Circuit City electronics store and employ 54 people. The Goodwill on Portland’s St. John Street will close March 20.

John Ewing/Staff Photographer

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The new Goodwill on Payne Road in South Portland will be joined by another discounter, Marden’s, opening at the former Walmart on Payne Road in Scarborough.

John Ewing/Staff Photographer

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In two weeks, Goodwill will open a new thrift store in South Portland, its latest in the Portland area and one of its largest in Maine.

It is taking over the 27,620-square-foot store on Payne Road once inhabited by the electronics giant Circuit City. The doors will open officially on March 26.

While sales for full-price retailers have generally declined during the economic downturn, Goodwill is seeing modest gains and expanding.

It says its new store will help it better serve the community by providing more space for gently used donated items, which it sells to support a variety of human service programs.

In moving to the mall area, Goodwill joins the Salvation Army and Marden's Surplus & Salvage, discounters that have opened stores in an area dominated by national chains.

"We feel that the greater Portland area can support a store of this size," said Randy Finamore, vice president of retail for Goodwill Industries of Northern New England.

The organization reported sales growth of 9 percent in 2009, and growth of 4 percent from stores that have been open for at least a year.

The new store will offer a 16,000-square-foot sales area for clothing, housewares, books and other goods. It will employ 54 people, more than many stores, Finamore said.

The store on Payne Road will be Goodwill's 19th in Maine and its sixth in Greater Portland, including Falmouth, South Portland and Portland. Goodwill has announced that it will close the Portland store, on St. John Street, March 20.

After 15 years in the Union Station Plaza, it decided to end its lease there because of an increase in rent. Finamore said there could be another Portland store in the future. "We're constantly looking for another space on the peninsula," he said.

In May, the Salvation Army opened at the Shops at Clarks Pond.

Maj. Florence Dodridge of the Salvation Army's Northern New England Division said the new store is performing modestly. She said economic conditions at the time made leasing the space a good idea.

Marden's is also expanding into the area, with plans to open a store on Payne Road in Scarborough in May. Like Goodwill, Marden's is taking over an existing building, a former Walmart property.

Paul LePage, general manager of the Maine-based discount chain, said conditions were right for expansion. Marden's plans to open a new store in Ellsworth in April.

Sales of day-to-day items are up and visits are steady, he said. During tight times, people give discount stores another look, LePage said.

"When the economy is hot they go to the mall, when it's not they go to Marden's," he said.

Finamore said Goodwill, like any business, did research before considering the move to the Circuit City space. Goodwill believes the new location will be successful, he said.

"We're seeing wider acceptance (of thrift stores)," he said. "We're seeing new customers and seeing a broader base of customers, particularly because of the economy."

Staff Writer Justin Ellis can be contacted at 791-6380 or at:

jellis@pressherald.com

 

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