Dave Goodridge considers himself to be a recycler.
For more than 30 years, Goodridge has been in the salvage and surplus business. Last week, he opened the second location of Dave’s Goody Barn on Memorial Park Road.
His new store, a former manufacturing plant, has row after row of merchandise that he has purchased in lots from a variety of sources.
He opened his first store on Old Cornelia Highway in East Hall two years ago and has enjoyed retail success.
His search for surplus merchandise has taken him to every state in the continental U.S. except Montana.
"We buy all over the place," he said. "I deal with insurance adjusters and have bought large quantities of merchandise from California. It can come as a result of a hurricane, tornado, fire or flood."
Goodridge didn’t exactly plan on getting in the business of selling surplus goods.
"I went to Toccoa Falls College and finished in 1977," Goodridge said. "I moved to Florida to take a job teaching in a private school. The job was there, but they didn’t have any money to pay me."
With a wife and two children to support, he took a job working three days a week in a salvage and close-out business. Within a year, he moved up to general manager of the company. Goodridge was looking for a job and found a career that has served him for 32 years.
His store is a mix of everything from building materials and appliances to hardware and gardening supplies.
An appliance is likely to have a scratch or dent, but comes with the full factory warranty.
"We buy closeouts. A company decides they don’t want to have it on their shelves anymore," Goodridge said. It is his version of recycling.
The business is a family enterprise with Goodridge and his wife of 43 years, Nancy.
"We have found there are more people saluting our business than ever before," he said. "When there is lots of money, people are wasteful. When money gets tight, then they start to be conservative and realize that because the package may have a wrinkle in it, there is nothing wrong with the product."
Dave’s Goody Barn is not alone in the surplus and salvage business.
On Murphy Boulevard, Habitat for Humanity operates a salvage business known as "Restore," one of about 550 operated by Habitat for Humanity affiliates throughout the United States. Sales help support the organization’s mission of building modest houses that families in need then buy at favorable terms.
The stock at the Gainesville location varies from week to week, but generally includes sinks, lavatories, cabinets, light fixtures and appliances.
People looking to save money during the recession are boosting sales at the stores. On the flip side, some stores are struggling to keep shelves stocked as demand rises and donations slip. Fewer homeowners are doing the kind of improvement projects that generate donations, and declines in home building have reduced the supply of materials left over from construction jobs.
"The person who was taking out their $4,500 or $5,000 cherry cabinet set, (donating it) and replacing it with a $10,000 set is not doing that now," said Terry Assad, manager of Habitat stores in Charlotte, N.C. "People are hanging on to stuff."
Kevin Campbell, director of building industry relations for Habitat for Humanity International in Apex, N.C., said there have been reports of "some softness" in donations, but "I don’t think anybody’s panicking that they’ll have customers and nothing to sell them."
Sometimes businesses that close send their remaining inventory to Habitat stores. Then there are businesses that routinely donate merchandise to get it off their sales floors, items a Habitat store typically will price 50 percent below retail.
"They close something out, they quit selling a certain model," said John Alexander, Habitat executive in Waco, Texas, where 15 percent of the Habitat budget comes from a store built on a former used-car lot. Among other things, shoppers find concrete pavers and blocks that a local producer provides by the pallet.
The Associated Press