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Arc Thrift Store in Pueblo, Colo. (PULP)

COVID-19’s ‘huge’ impact on Colorado donation centers, thrift stores, and the families they serve

Since Colorado’s COVID-19 response — Stay at Home — was implemented by Gov. Jared Polis on March 26, 2020, donation centers such as The Arc and Goodwill of Colorado have operated at limited capacity. In the last month, both businesses reopened and have been dedicated to providing affordable retail options to community members in need.

The Arc Thrift Stores in Colorado reopened their retail shops on May 1st, 2020, in accordance with Gov. Polis’ Safer at Home Order, according to The Arc Marketing Director, Maggie Scivicque.

“We’re doing our best to be open for a segment of our community that truly does need us for shopping and that’s our dedication,” said Scivicque.

She added that they are trying to get the store “back on track and back to normal,” after suspending retail operations in April.

Scivicque said that since opening retail on May 1st, they will try to “provide the safest shopping environment possible,” for their clientele.

The Arc has implemented 31 safety standards upon reopening in May, according to Scivicque. The most important of the 31, she said, is having an employee count every person to enter and exit the building, to ensure they maintain their limited capacity.

Scivicque said the current industry standard of limited capacity is three to five people per one thousand square feet. The Arc calculates the capacity based on the area of a given store within their business, aiming to limit it to four people per one thousand square feet, according to Scivicque.

Since reopening, The Arc is rehiring employees who were furloughed during the closure, Scivicque said. They are doing everything they can to be part of statewide relief efforts, she added.

Bradd Hafer, Marketing Communications Manager of Goodwill of Colorado, said they are going “above and beyond” Gov. Polis’ most recent health guidelines while they reopen their retail stores.

He added that Goodwill has served the communities of Colorado for over 100 years. In the face of adversity, they are continuing to do so, but only after they suffered a challenging closure, according to Hafer.

After Gov. Polis’ Stay at Home Order was implemented, Hafer said the 40-plus Goodwill of Colorado retail stores were closed for the end of March and April. Donation centers normally colocated within the stores remained open to accept donations, he said.

The lack of retail had a “huge” impact on Goodwill of Colorado and its reliant community members, according to Hafer.

“A lot of individuals that shop with us routinely consider goodwill shopping part of their livelihood,” he said. “They’ve had to find other ways to purchase goods for their families,” he added.

Hafer said that the disruption in operations was difficult for the 3,000 employees that normally work for Goodwill of Colorado as many of them were furloughed.

“The disruption … obviously is a significant impact to them, their families and finances in general,” he said.

Goodwill of Colorado also endured an enormous drop in revenue from the retail closures.

Despite these challenges, Good Will of Colorado will continue to increase their operations and open more retail stores. Among others, they will serve routine shoppers who, under normal circumstances, rely on the store’s services, according to Hafer.

“They’re not able to pocket book for brand new clothes, brand name merchandise, they really look at goodwill as their ‘go-to’ for their household items for their clothing [and] other things they need for their families that are affordable,” he said.

As of June 1, Hafer said Goodwill of Colorado, “should be back to full operations from an operational standpoint.”