A year and a half after moving into a new 13,000-square-foot facility in Catalina, the Golden Goose Thrift Shop continues to grow and thrive, offering the public a variety of goods that fills the space to near overflowing.
Golden Goose, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, is the collaboration of two other 501(c)(3) organizations — Catalina Community Services and SaddleBrooke Community Outreach — and is overseen by a 10-member board of directors.
Stephanie Urdiales, Golden Goose’s general manager, said the two groups used to conduct weekend yard sales that became so successful they started the thrift shop eight years ago. The first incarnation of Golden Goose was on Oracle Road north of Pinto Lane, Urdiales noted, but the shop outgrew the place so the parent groups constructed the new facility.
While there are four full-time staff members who manage and administer the thrift shop, the Golden Goose boasts a whopping 450 volunteers on its books who donate a minimum of three hours of work per week in the store or its sorting room in the back. Many volunteers work more than the minimum requirement.
Urdiales said the staff attempts to place volunteers in the area where they have an interest, such as books, sporting goods or computers. Golden Goose’s departments also include clothing, jewelry, furniture, holiday items, movies, music, linens, tools and hardware, exercise equipment, vintage materials, artwork, collectibles, kitchen goods and household items.
Barbara McClure, executive director of Catalina Community Services, said the net profits from Golden Goose are split evenly between the two sponsoring organizations.
“The Golden Goose typically funds half of our budget,” she said, “with the other half coming from direct donors who contribute 35 percent and 15 percent from grants. We were very fortunate this year because the Golden Goose is very successful in its new location, and we received an extra bonus distribution we didn’t expect.”
Money from the Golden Goose goes to a number of Catalina Community Services programs that focus on children and seniors in the area, as well as providing assistance to communities, McClure said. These include the Tri-Communities Food Bank, clothing bank, senior nutrition program, youth programs, scholarships, Meals on Wheels and a senior center.
At SaddleBrooke Community Outreach, board president Maggie de Block said Golden Goose monies fund Kid’s and Teen closets to buy wardrobes for those in need, swim lessons for kids in San Manuel and Mammoth, scholarships and tutoring programs, among others.
Chuck Davis, an Oro Valley resident and member of the Golden Goose board, said the biggest problem facing the thrift shop “is to grow our donators of material to sell. Over half of our donations come from the SaddleBrooke community and from Sun City Vistoso.”
Davis noted Golden Goose has been advertising and doing promotional pushes through daily and weekly newspapers, direct mail and the Internet to increase the level of donations.
“We also encourage people to contact us and volunteer to work in the thrift shop, whether out on the selling floor or in the back cataloging and pricing items,” Davis said. “For some of the volunteers, it has become something of a social club where they can do something good for the community and meet other people.”
Urdiales pointed out that while the public part of the shop is loaded with a variety of styles and types of goods, it’s the back room that is the heart of the place.
“That’s where all the donations are received, inspected, cleaned, tested and priced,” she said. “Then they’re put on carts and moved out onto the sales floor. A lot of our volunteers work in the back of our shop.”
Golden Goose even has a computer department in the back room where volunteer experts put together personal computers that eventually find their way to the front of the store.
“They use the same software as the CIA to clean the hard drives on the computers when we receive them,” Urdiales noted.
There’s a small photography sale area in the front of the store, courtesy of a volunteer professional photographer who donates his time to process any cameras or camera-related equipment that is donated.
Furniture is the biggest seller at Golden Goose, followed a close second by clothing, Urdiales noted. Yet Urdiales plans on expanding the shop’s offerings this fall.
“We’ll start accepting home improvement items – DIY (do-it-yourself) merchandise,” she said. “For instance, we’ll have kitchen cabinets and countertops, lighting fixtures, tiles and flooring. We felt it’s a good way to broaden our merchandise base and offer more value to our customers.”