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Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News
Roger Friend demos the old Ethan Allen store to make way for the first Easter Seals-Goodwill store in Utah in Murray Tuesday, Dec. 13, 2011.

MILLCREEK — Goodwill Industries plans to open its first store in Utah this spring but it will begin accepting donations on Jan. 2.

The 27,800-square-foot store, to be located at the former Ethan Allen furniture store at 4545 S. 900 East, is tentatively scheduled to open April 26.

Utah is the only state in the continental United States where Goodwill had not opened a store, said Lee H. Manwaring, assistant vice president of Utah Goodwill. Leaders of Goodwill International plan to attend the store opening because "Utah is the last frontier of the 48 states."

It's unclear why Goodwill has not had a Utah presence. There may have been a gentlemen's understanding stemming back to the 1930s that LDS Church-owned Deseret Industries and Goodwill would not operate stores in the same markets, Manwaring said. But Goodwill has operated stores in other states where Deseret Industries has a presence for a number of years.

Manwaring said the respective parties met recently and Goodwill received a warm welcome to Utah. "We're looking to be a partner in the community," he said. 

The store is part of Easter Seals-Goodwill Rocky Mountain Inc., which operates Goodwill stores and/or provides or funds programs for Easter Seals clients in Montana, Idaho, Wyoming and Utah. Its five-year plan envisions opening other stores along the Wasatch Front and possibly in St. George. Since Goodwill stores typically require a smaller footprint than other thirft stores, it may also explore opportunities in rural Utah, Manwaring said. 

Although Easter Seals-Goodwill has not had a retail presence in Utah, it has funded or provided a number of programs in the state for children with disabilities and low-income adults 55 and older who need job training assistance. Some of the programs are primarily funded through government sources, although others rely on revenue generated by the Goodwill stores.

For instance, the P.L.A.Y Project, (Play and Language for Autistic Youngsters) is an intensive parent training and early intervention program for autistic children ages 14 months to age 6. 

The store will employ about 25 people, Manwaring said, but it may require some 60 workers during its peak season, which is Halloween. "Halloween is our Christmas," Manwaring said, saying the winter holidays "are when we go on vacation and spend time with our families."

The store's customer base is women ages 25-55 with middle to low incomes. Accordingly, the store will be organized with women's clothing at the front of the store. The store also carries children's clothing, men's clothing, furniture, housewares and holiday decorations.

The vast majority of the merchandise is donated by community members, although the store plans to stock some new merchandise for Halloween costumes.

Goodwill also offers two large sales each year to further assist shoppers who need to stretch their shopping dollars as much as possible — 50 percent off promotions on Black Friday and Presidents Day.

E-mail: marjorie@desnews.com