Goodwill plans Washougal retail store, donation center

Nonprofit shuttered its east Clark County donation dropoff site during pandemic

Two years after closing its Washougal-based donation center, Goodwill Industries is heading back to east Clark County.

The Portland-based Goodwill Industries of the Columbia Willamette is planning to build a new donation center and retail store at 365 Second St. in Washougal by 2024, according to Jon Hannam, the company’s director of retail and marketing services.

Goodwill Industries of the Columbia Willamette operates 50 retail stores, as well as outlet locations, two online shopping sites and several donation centers in the Vancouver-Portland metropolitan area. The company used to operate a small donation center in Washougal, but closed that site in 2020, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Sometimes we go into communities and start with a donation center because we want to see what the need is and if people respond to it or not,” Hannam said. “Going into Washougal, we just wanted to see what it would be like if we set up a place for people to donate and if there was a need for people to donate goods. It was a very successful location and further informed (our decision) to develop our property when the time was right.”

Hannam said the nonprofit purchased the Washougal site in 2008 and has “had an interest in developing a mission-focused service center out there for quite some time.”

“We were just waiting for the right opportunity and for more development in the area to take shape,” he said. “It’s been in the back of our minds for quite some time, and now things have come to fruition to where we can make that happen. We don’t have a facility out in that part of Clark County, so we are under-serving the population and our territory by not having an opportunity for people out there.”

DOWL, a Portland-based engineering firm, will begin construction on the 23,351-square-foot facility in late 2023 or early 2024, according to Hannam, who projected that the store and donation center could open for business in the first quarter of 2024 and bring about 40 jobs to Washougal.

“We’re a ways out on this particular project because (there are) a lot of different things in the works,” he said. “We have a few things to wait on, like city permitting and things of that nature, and earth work still needs to be done. But everything’s going as expected. Each county and jurisdiction has different requirements and ordinances that we need to meet, so we just take it in stride and move the ball forward the best we can.”

GICW recently requested approval from the city of Washougal to move ahead with the project.

“The use is a permitted use outright within the highway commercial zoning designation,” Washougal Community Development Director Mitch Kneipp said.

The proposed development includes a 71-stall parking lot; site landscaping; a pedestrian plaza; loading facilities; donation drive-through aisles; an off-site driveway for access to join the roundabout at Second and “C” streets; pedestrian and vehicular access to First Street; and improvements to the site, including sidewalks and street trees along First Street.

“I think (the Washougal facility will resemble) our store out in Orchards,” Hannam said the Washougal Goodwill site would likely look similar to the Orchards Goodwill.

“That store is also about 25,000 square feet, big, bright and new, with a high-ceiling warehouse look. And we also have a nice job connection facility out there as well,” Hannam said.

Goodwill Industries International Inc. is a Maryland-based nonprofit that provides job training, employment placement services and other community based programs for people who experience employment barriers, and hires veterans and individuals who lack either education, job experience or face employment challenges. It is funded by a network of more than 3,200 retail thrift stores, which operate as independent nonprofits.

“The job connection piece is really why we exist,” Hannam said. “People donate, and we take those donations and sell them, and take that revenue and put it into our mission services program, which (includes the) job connection service as one of the primary components. Anyone can walk in and get connected with an employment specialist, and then they get input into our program, and then we reach out to other businesses in the community and connect those people to work. We do everything from building their resumes to preparing them for interviews to helping them get clothes for an interview — and it’s all free.”