WESTMINSTER -- Goodwill Industries, a non-profit agency which trains disabled people, has opened its first Carroll store in the 140 Village Shopping Center.
Occupying a center space left vacant by a movie theater, the facility has been collecting donations and selling the refurbished goods to the public since Sept. 9.
"People have been beating to get in the door," said John Brown, executive director for Goodwill Industries of Monocacy Valley, Inc.
For example, after only two weeks, the store is already becoming self-sufficient, paying rent and salaries from the items sold, Mr. Brown said.
"Items that are coming in are staying there and being resold," he said from his office in Frederick. "We're not stripping the Westminster community of resources. They are returning to the community, hopefully with some value added."
Donations to the Westminster store have ranged from clothing and furniture to refrigerators, microwaves and a dishwasher.
"We've had a car or two before," Mr. Brown said. "We'll take anything that's usable or reusable."
At present, the 5,000-square-foot Carroll facility only has room for retail and to sort clothing donations. Appliances, electronics and furniture that need repair are sent to Frederick and then returned to the Westminster store for resale.
Bank accounts have been opened in Carroll and all bills are paid from the Westminster resources.
"We don't look to be an agency in Frederick that does business in Westminster," Mr. Brown said. "In a year or two, we'd love to branch out in Westminster and have our own processing facility."
Although the store's three current employees don't have disabilities, store managers intend to hire handicapped workers when the support facilities are in place.
The Frederick store currently employs about 75 mentally and physically handicapped people, teaching them retail skills and how to repair the donated appliances and electronic equipment.
In addition, money raised from the store pays for secretarial or accounting classes for employees who prefer that line of work. Each full-service facility also offers job counseling and placement.
"We teach them to take care of themselves completely," said Pat Halls, Westminster's store manager. "They live in halfway houses and pay their own way. We're taking them off of the taxpayers' roll."
The store's grand opening will be Oct. 3, with Westminster mayor W. Benjamin Brown cutting the ribbon at 10 a.m. and a drawing for a 19-inch color television set at 1 p.m. Local Boy and Girl Scout troops sell baked goods.
Store hours are 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and noon to 5 p.m on Sunday.