SALINAS, Calif., — In July of 2017, Goodwill Central Coast opened its centralized e-commerce facility on Moffett Street in Salinas. In less than four years, the tri-county nonprofit’s online sector has grown from five employees to 26.
These jobs involve varied work in photography, jewelry authentication, distribution/transportation, technology and management. And it’s not just the workforce that has expanded. The division has moved from its 11,000-square-foot facility to a new home with more than 18,000 square feet. This includes a state-of-the-art distribution center, new photography studio and a spacious new jewelry center.
What’s more, its listing capacity has increased dramatically, as it currently adds nearly 1,000 new items online for donors and customers per day. Each day this team of specialists sorts through thousands of goods in an effort to gather and document coveted items to put up for sale at Shopgoodwill.com, Ebay.comand amazon.com. From a leadership standpoint, Goodwill Central Coast has appointed Amber Vick as Regional Director of Stores and E-commerce. Vick previously oversaw the retail store locations in Monterey and Santa Cruz. Vick joins the current e-commerce management team of Patrick Sagara (e-commerce manager), Dawn Lockwood and Jorge Huerta-Becerra (both assistant managers).
“Together the updated management team brings a wealth of training, knowledge and experience to Goodwill Central Coast,” said Alan Martinson, vice president of retail. “This team is focused on career growth of their staff, and this is where we see the biggest benefits long term.”
The expansion is aligned with Goodwill Central Coast’s mission to invest in technology and infrastructure to help create jobs of the future.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, retail e-commerce across the country reached $211.5 billion in the second quarter of 2020, up 31.8 percent from the first quarter, and 44.5 percent year-over-year. E-commerce also accounted for 16.1 percent of total retail sales in the second quarter, up from 11.8 percent in the first quarter.
While much of this growth can be attributed to the COVID-19 pandemic, the future of e-commerce is one of strong, steady growth.
“Goodwill Central Coast is focused on our mission of creating jobs and removing barriers to employment,” Martinson said. “The GCC e-commerce division is a shining star in the nonprofit world, providing opportunity to learn skills in the technology job segment and provide growth for those who would like to learn.
”GCC’s Information Technology department has deployed the latest advancements to enhance operations. This not only makes Goodwill Central Coast more efficient, it provides vast training for individuals with the desire to learn about e-commerce, and the opportunities within the industry.
“Yes, it helps support GCC by shopping online or in our store locations, however it is the generous donations from our community that make it possible,” Martinson said.
GCC’s online items represent a treasure trove of items that were generously donated to support programs. The e-commerce team has developed a short list of items to donate that help the most: jewelry, musical instruments, electronics, artwork, trading or game cards, video games and systems.
“Items are usually in good condition,” Martinson said. “These items are carefully expedited and auctioned off to the highest bidder. We appreciate all donations and continued support of our job programs.”
Goodwill designed its virtual marketplace to provide an engaging online shopping destination. Consumers enjoy what Martinson likes to call “guilt-free retail therapy,” knowing every purchase supports job training programs and promotes reuse, keeping items out of landfills and reducing the need for scarce natural resources.
The Salinas team ships hundreds of items each day, from gold jewelry to clothing, musical instruments and more. The engaging site showcases new items and items leaving the gallery, it tracks a Hot 50, entices buyers with coupon codes and offers shipping deals as low as 1 cent. GCC has also resumed some customer pick-ups of online orders (with restrictions) at the facility, 1566 Moffett St., Salinas.
Nationwide, Goodwill has generated more than $560 million in online sales since launching the site in 1999. Goodwill Central Coast’s e-commerce division sees roughly $2 million in annual revenue, but Martinson expects that to grow significantly next year. While the average price of an item in Goodwill’s brick-and-mortar stores is between $4-$5, the online platform sells items averaging in value between $30 and $40.
All this added revenue helps fund a growing number of programs that have served tens of thousands of individuals facing barriers to employment.
About Goodwill Central Coast
Goodwill Central Coast, a private 501(c)3 nonprofit organization, began in 1928 in the city of Santa Cruz and today has expanded into three counties: Santa Cruz, Monterey, and San Luis Obispo. Goodwill Central Coast now employs more than 600 people, including employment training professionals, sales personnel, donation center attendants, warehouse and distribution workers, and administrators. Its programs strengthen communities by improving job growth, the lives of individuals and families, and the health of our environment. Each year Goodwill assists more than 9,000 job seekers get back to work and reclaim financial and personal independence. Goodwill provides a positive learning environment that creates brighter futures through connecting people to meaningful work.