New Outlet Store in Olympia

February 19, 2015:

8 year journey culminates with Olympia Outlet Store & Recycle Center Opening

Sandra Collins’ journey: former Goodwill trainee is the new outlet store manager


At noon on February 19, Thurston County officially had 35 more jobs, adding paycheck purchasing power of $350,000 to the local economy. The opening of the 29,000 square foot Goodwill Olympia Outlet Store and Recycling Center also provides a retail venue featuring pants, shirts and blouses for under a dollar; additional resources to fund job training and job placement in a variety of career fields; and centralized recycling diverting unsold donations away from area landfills. Further, each employee taken off of unemployment saves business and taxpayers about $13,000 / year. These regional benefits are eclipsed however, by the incredible success story of the Outlet Center’s first manager – Sandra Collins.

Personal Achievement: Sandra Collins … Today, this new homeowner and mother of two happy positive children is a world away from one desperate night in Spanaway eight years ago.

“As I was driving through town my car broke down and I coasted into the back of a dark, quiet parking lot where I wouldn’t be bothered,” said Collins. “I reached into the glove compartment and pulled out some very dangerous pills – I figured I would just go to sleep and never wake up.”

“I had burned all my relationships with family and friends, faced isolation after escaping nine years of domestic violence, and lived in my car with two teenage children living elsewhere. Being only three months clean and sober from a 17 year meth addiction, my self-worth and confidence were nonexistent, said Collins”

“My dog stopped me that night, reminding me that both she and my kids still needed a mother. It was a close call and I decided there had to be another way out of the mess I was in.”

The way out for Sandra was through retail and life skills training from Goodwill and participation in the WorkFirst Community Jobs program, funded by the federal government and administered by the Department of Commerce. Her career and personal achievement will be celebrated in front of admiring customers and employees at the Thursday ribbon cutting, culminating in a Congressional Commendation from Congressman Dave Reichert (WA-08), who asked her before Congress last summer to testify about the WorkFirst Community Jobs program.

(Sandra Collins Testimony begins at 11:55 into the hearing.) “I could not be more proud of Sandra and what she has achieved,” said Rep. Reichert. “I am honored to have met her and am so pleased that her testimony before the Ways and Means Committee will help shape future legislation. I congratulate her on her success and her hard work.”

New facility = improved retail and recycling: Goodwill of the Olympics and Rainier region converts about 85% of donations into revenue for job training at our four Work Opportunity Centers, additional satellite offices and retail training sites. Most of the public is unaware that Goodwill distributes donations across a variety of retail venues – online bidding for high end items, boutiques for top name brands and home decor, and main retail for department store clothes, furnishings, electronics and décor. What doesn’t sell at these venues eventually ends up at our Outlet Stores, such as the new Olympia site. Coupled with a backend recycling facility, these stores offer shoppers bargain pricing prior to sorting for sale as raw material on the international salvage market. The Olympia regional system routes donations from eight surrounding regions (Aberdeen, Centralia, Lacey, South Lacey, Longview, Olympia, Shelton and Yelm) creating efficiencies of scale to squeeze every penny out of household donations and keep what’s left out of landfills.

State Representative Sam Hunt (Olympia) expressed his support for the new store, “I’m grateful to goodwill for choosing Thurston County as a destination for its new outlet store, bringing with it family wage jobs and commodities for our low-income families,” Hunt said. “Sandra’s inspiring story is representative of the kind of work Goodwill does in our communities, and it is impossible to put a price tag on the job training, education and career placement work Goodwill does.”