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Hudson's Goodwill Store opens its doors

Emily Bollensen is the manager of the Hudson Goodwill Store. Clothing is sorted by color and age group. Photo by Margaret Ontl1 / 3
Part of the Goodwill team ready to help both customers and donors includes in the front row from the left Ian Weston, Sandra Young, Ashley Goldbeck, Joe Smolinske and Greg Olson. In the second row are Dennis Bazdell, Sheryl Skarset, Nikki Palesh and David Johnson. Photo by Margaret A. Ontl2 / 3
Filling nearly the entire foot print of the former Gilbert Motors/ Denny Hecker car dealership and lot, the 20,600 square foot Goodwill store opened to the public Saturday. The building includes 14,000 square feet of retail selling space. The building is owned by Eden Prairie Developer Robert Grootwassink, from whom Goodwill is leasing. Photo by Margaret A. Ontl3 / 3

Saturday, August 28, the Hudson Goodwill store opened its door to the public. The response was more than anyone expected. After a soft three hour opening on Friday the doors swung open Saturday to a waiting public at 9 a.m.

The store, the newest retail offering in Hudson, is big. It employees 45 people and has a total of 20,600 square feet sitting on the former site of Gilbert Motors/Denny Hecker car dealership. The store offer a drive-through, under-cover dock to drop off donations It is most accessible from 17th Street.

"We beat all sales expectations and goals," said Emily Bollensen about the store's first day. "We have sales goals for every day and Saturday day we beat our goal by 265 percent.

"So far Monday has been the biggest donation day."

Bollensen, who lives in North East Minneapolis, was hired in February and jumped at the chance to manage the Hudson store.

A Packer Fan at heart and someone who spent her childhood summers in the Hayward and Spooner area, she considers herself a wannabe Wisconsinite. She is also completing her master's degree at UW-Stout in training and development.

"I love Wisconsin and I am thrilled to be here," said Bollensen. "We love the river and hope someday to move in this direction."

In the meantime, Bollensen can hardly believe the location of the Hudson Goodwill store.

"We are in a prime location," said Bollensen. "The first time I saw it I thought, oh my, this is fantastic, visible from freeway -- it is incredible."

Bollensen had over 200 applicants at one of the store's hiring events.

"I had to call two references for each of the 45 people we hired and the community was so excited that we were coming to town," said Bollensen. "There are a lot of good people out there I wish I could have hired more."

This is the first store that Goodwill/Easter Seals Minnesota has opened in Wisconsin. It joins 21 other retail stores located in central Minnesota and the Metro Twin Cities area.

"Our focus is to create an atmosphere so shoppers will get the same quality experience in all of our stores," said Bollensen. "We present the products in a clean, neat and organized manner."

"With the opening of each new or remodeled store, we strive to create a shopping experience that exceeds the customer's expectations," said Goodwill/Easter Seals' Vice President of Sales and Operations Debbie Ferry. It also features the colorful and bright look of all new Goodwill stores with wide aisles.

In order to turn over the inventory, they have a sale every week and offer a special silent auction each week on one-of-a-kind items such as a set of Lenox cats or a pair of "pewter" candle sticks.

The Hudson store will also have offices to provide services to the community including, career counseling, transitional employment, job placement and retention. Revenue from items sold at Goodwill stores directly supports the organization's mission to assist individuals with barriers to employment, education and independence in achieving their goals.

In the past year, over 15,000 individuals received 31,000 services, including job skills training (automotive, banking/finance, construction and retail), job placement and free medical equipment loans. Revenues from the 22 retail stores, along with other contributions, support these programs.

"We are happy to be here," said Bollensen. "We are hoping people who donate will become shoppers in the store as well."

The store is located at 1621 Coulee Rd. Store hours are Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Saturday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Donations are accepted when the store opens and up until an hour before closing.