Spring temperatures went away last Thursday, making it a chilly and rainy day. The inclement weather, however, didn’t put a damper on the horde of people who came to the opening of Goodwill’s new blue boutique in downtown Sumner.
Prospective customers formed a line outside the store a block long. “I’ve never seen a store open with this many customers,” said Sumner Mayor Dave Enslow. “This is really great. Sumner downtown has really come to life and this is a part of that.”
The 2,000-square-foot store is the third of its kind since the first blue boutique opened in Tacoma’s Proctor District in November 2012. The success of the Proctor store brought a second location in Olympia.
The Sumner store is unique in that it’s the first store opened by Goodwill of the Olympics and Rainier Region to be completely financed by charitable donations.
“This store is really special because of the contributions from Clara and Ottie Ladd and JPMorgan Chase & Co. that helped to cover our costs to get the store open,” said Terry Hayes, the Goodwill CEO.
The store includes Goodwill’s top merchandise selected from household items donated across Pierce County. Products include designer apparel for women and men and home decor priced at 60 to 70 percent below retail.
“We get such wonderful merchandise donated to us that we had enough to create a unique venue for these treasures,” Hayes said.
Because of these high-end donations, Hayes said the boutique stores were born.
“We thought it would be a good venue to have that in more of a downtown core where people like to walk and shop and browse,” Hayes added.
Ottie, who died in 2013, was known as a big believer in giving back to the communities in which he did business. He offered many young people their first job during the time that he owned 23 Kentucky Fried Chicken stores in Pierce County, Spokane and Coeur d’Alene. After more than 30 years of ownership, Ottie sold his stores in 1993, said his wife, Clara Ladd.
Clara said her husband called giving back to the community “paying the rent.”
“Rent is what you pay to live here to enjoy this beautiful country and this area,” she added.
On Thursday at the grand opening and ribbon cutting of the store, Clara was joined by Ottie’s children: Rod Ladd and Mindy Ladd O’Neill.
“It’s wonderful to be here,” Clara told the swell of people standing in the store. “I really love this street. Ottie and I used to shop here all the time. And we always brought home treasures. Ottie’s KFC restaurants offered young people their first jobs. Ottie loved to see young people blossom in their job skills. He knew that jobs changed their lives. He knew that you had to give back to the community.”
Hayes said he visited with Ottie before he died and he said he would love to help Goodwill do more in regards with its regional job training and placement programs. Hayes said Ottie understood the importance of getting people trained and ready for a job.
Clara said that her husband “fervently believed in Goodwill’s mission.”
“It’s in that spirt and in his memory that I support Goodwill’s mission through the opening of this boutique in Sumner,” she said.
Another important contribution to the opening of the store was a $90,000 check from JPMorgan Chase & Co., considered to be the largest lender of small business loans in the United States. In this state alone, the firm extended more than $468 million in loans to small businesses in 2013.
“We’re so proud to be part of this,” said Cree Zischke, vice president of global philanthropy for JPMorgan Chase & Co. “It’s always great to partner.”
Zischke said it was a year ago that they sat down with Hayes to discuss ways in which JPMorgan could invest in Goodwill’s long-term sustainability. This store, she said, will create vibrancy in the downtown and new jobs. Zischke said JPMorgan couldn’t be more proud to stand with a community family like the Ladds.
Hayes said the contributions from the Ladds and JPMorgan will go directly to supporting Goodwill’s job training and placement programs that annually support 9,000 unemployed in Goodwill’s 15-county region.
The store will support seven part-time and full-time jobs and will produce $750,000 in area economic stimulus.
“We appreciate the Ladds, Chase and Goodwill for investing in the heart of our town,” Enslow said.
Connie Petee, who came to check out the new boutique store on Thursday, said she loved the selection.
“I’m impressed,” she said. “This is really nice. The prices are really good. I hope to return when it’s not so busy.”
If you go
The new Goodwill blue boutique is at 926 Main St. in Sumner, adjacent to the train tracks and next to Sugarbabies.