Goodwill Industries seems to have found a winning combination -- providing jobs and training for people with disabilities and offering great finds for the budget-conscious shopper.

It's a win-win operation, particularly in this down economy. Everyone benefits. People donate unwanted items and get a tax deduction, and bargain shoppers swear by their finds. Goodwill employs 1,100 people across nine counties in South Carolina.

Jobs and services

In 2010, Goodwill provided employment services to more than 22,000 and placed more than 470 into jobs.

That effort continues today as it opens its first Johns Island store, bringing to 24 the number of stores across the state. The new 15,000-square-foot building is at 1758 Main Road near Maybank Highway.

Agency President Robert G. Smith said in a statement that the store expands donation opportunities and the agency's "ability to provide jobs ... for people with disabilities and other barriers to employment."

The grand-opening celebration starts at 9 a.m. with a ribbon cutting and includes prize drawings every half-hour, including home decor, kitchen gadgets and more. There also will be live radio broadcasts and a free hot dog lunch.

A job-link center will open later, offering free employment services, including access to computers for job searches, assistance with resumes and other resources that can help ensure economic independence.

In a Post and Courier report in March about the profitability of local nonprofits, Goodwill revenues had risen tenfold, from $4.5 million in 1998 to a projected haul of $45 million this year. Smith then said that Goodwill returns more than 90 cents of every dollar in revenue to the community in the form of programs and services.

Donate, then shop

Clothes are the most popular drop-off items, many with the original retailer's price tag. Other items include TV sets and computer equipment, vacuum cleaners, household goods, toys and books.

In 2009, more than 11.5 million pounds of items were given to area Goodwill stores. That was up from the 10.3 million pounds donated in 2008.

On the shopping end, several friends swear by Goodwill. One found a sleeveless cocktail dress for $5 at the Mount Pleasant store. Another found a pair of Christian Louboutin -- for the uninitiated, the red-bottom shoes are favored by the likes of Oprah Winfrey and Kim Kardashian -- for $3.95. The listed price? $850. Not a knock-off. The real thing.

The same friend bought a bag of costume jewelry for $9. Inside was a gold chain later appraised for $150. She kept it, of course.

So take some donated items to the island store today, and shop while you are there, you might just find your pair of Louboutin.

For more information about Goodwill's programs and locations, go to

Reach City Editor Shirley A. Greene at 937-5555 or