Marion’s new Goodwill store opened its doors Wednesday morning and crowds of shoppers came through to see what merchandise is available there.

Goodwill Industries of Northwest North Carolina held a grand opening ceremony for its first ever retail store in Marion, located at 535 N. Main St. Officials from Goodwill’s executive management team, the city of Marion, McDowell County and the McDowell Chamber of Commerce were there for the ribbon-cutting ceremony.

Before the ribbon was cut, officials with Goodwill and the local governments welcomed the big crowd on hand for the grand opening. The line of anxious customers stretched all the way around the building to the CVS parking lot. Other people had to park elsewhere on the five lane for this event.

This new store employs 12 workers, all of whom are from Marion, and the retail district manager and another manager lives here.

“We know all about Marion and we love Marion,” said Art Gibel, president and CEO of Goodwill Industries of Northwest North Carolina.

Bill Haymore, vice president of operations, said the store has a 1-800 number so patrons can report directly to him about either poor customer service or exceptional customer service.

“We want to be a part of your neighborhood,” said Haymore. “We want to be a part of this community.”

“This new store will serve a dual purpose,” said Jaymie Eichorn, interim vice president of marking and communications for Goodwill. “It’s a place where folks can come in and shop for great bargains on a wide selection of items, and it also features a convenient drive-up area for anyone who wants to donate clothing and household goods.”

Mayor Steve Little welcomed the crowd and especially Goodwill to Marion. He talked about how the old Movie Gallery building sat empty for years but now has been upgraded both inside and out for a new purpose.

“It’s an honor and a privilege,” said Commissioner Lynn Greene. “We are so happy this store is here. The best suit I ever bought came from Goodwill.”

Ron Searcy, regional director for Goodwill, is from Marion. He played an important role in getting a store here and specifically at this location in the old Movie Gallery.

“We’ve been working on getting a location here for years,” Searcy said to The McDowell News. “We’ve looked at site after site.”

But it was the amount of traffic on the five lane and downtown Marion’s revitalization that were the important reasons for opening the store at this site. This location outweighed the area around the Walmart shopping center, Searcy added.

Goodwill is leasing this building from the owner.

The 6,000-square-foot retail store has feature fitting rooms and two cashier stations. The retail shopping space covers 4,500 square feet. It will have thousands of donated items including clothing, furniture, shoes, toys, home décor, electronics and more. The store hours are Monday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Sundays from 1 to 6 p.m. Debbie Williamson is the manager.

Shoppers who were there at the grand opening said they are pleased with the new Goodwill store.

“I wish they would put one in Newland,” said Casey Banner.

Banner said he and his brother Charles were the first ones to arrive Wednesday morning for the grand opening. They drove to Marion from Newland. Casey was the first in line and his brother was the second.

“I think it’s great,” said Pat Potter of Marion. “We’ve been awaiting it.”

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