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Goodwill opens in South Hall to large crowds
Jesscena Banks, left, and Tammy Little ring up and bag purchases Thursday at the new Goodwill Store in the Merchant Crossing Shopping Center in Oakwood. - photo by Tom Reed

A career change, again

By: Jeff Gill

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OAKWOOD — Dozens of people barreled through the front door Thursday morning at Goodwill of North Georgia’s newest location on Mundy Mill Road.

Customers huddled outside the store long before the doors opened, waiting as a ceremony involving employees and Goodwill officials took place inside.

Margie Hitt of South Hall was one of those in the thick crowd, which formed despite the bitter cold.

"You can get good buys here," she said. "If you don’t pick it up while you see it, it’s gone later."

Store manager Margie Green, who transferred to the store from a Goodwill location in Athens, said of the crowds, "Honestly, I wanted more."

"Usually, we have some loyal Goodwill customers who will wait at the doors and they line up early," said Goodwill spokeswoman Elaine Armstrong.

The 12,000-square-foot thrift store is in the 20-year-old Merchants Crossing Shopping Center, occupying space once used by grocery stores.

The store also features a career center, which provides job training and employment services.

Store revenue supports the nonprofit organization’s operations, with merchandise coming from items that people have donated. The Merchants Crossing operation also features a drop-off area for donations and space where items are processed before they hit the shelves.

"Thousands of people will be employed this year in metro Atlanta because of the efforts of Goodwill, and that makes me enormously proud to be part of it all," Dan King, chairman of Goodwill of North Georgia’s board, said during the ceremony.

Torey Collins, 19, a West Hall High School graduate, spent some time filling out an application in the career center.

"I was looking for a job all summer," he said, adding that he is open to any opportunity.

Opening a new store is "one of the most hectic and rewarding experiences I’ve ever had," Green said. "I know that all the work I and my associates do serves a purpose.

"We are here to help this community; we are here to serve this community, and I’m excited to do that."

Goodwill’s opening is part an overall revival of the shopping center.

The center’s owner, London Feldman Properties in Atlanta, is redoing the rest of the center’s facade.

"It’ll be a more modern look with stucco, some brick, stone accents, and the awnings will be redone. It’ll give a very nice, pleasant look to the property," company representative Charles Bartlett has said.

The center also hopes to capitalize on its location. Mundy Mill Road has been widened and a new four-lane road, Thurmon Tanner Parkway, is being built next to it, connecting Mundy Mill to Plainview Road.