Goodwill eCommerce selector Sarah Scharpf curates the donated items for sale on shopgoodwill.com.
Goodwill eCommerce Manager Amy Koebrick and Amber Russo, vice president of retail sales.
Wednesday, November 6, 11:27 AM EST
by Karen Brune Mathis, Managing Editor
Would you pay $2,990 for a Chanel watch online?
A Goodwill Industries of North Florida customer did, which is helping to propel the local nonprofit's e-commerce sales of books and merchandise to more than $1 million this year, its first full year of online retailing.
Customers especially like to buy shoes, purses, jewelry, musical instruments and electronic games, which are the most popular auction items among many on the shopgoodwill.com site.
The baseball signed on the sweet spot by New York Yankees legend Lou Gehrig drew $2,000. A painting of a young woman that appears to be from the 1920s – the artist's name is only a guess – drew a bid of $2,500.
Heck, 9 pounds of wine corks sold for $33.
Goodwill of North Florida has been selling books online since September 2011. Goodwill veteran Amy Koebrick took over as manager of eCommerce in 2012 and expanded the business in January to join the shopgoodwill.com network.
Goodwill eCommerce selector Sarah Scharpf visits the 22 area stores and 18 donation centers to find items that would be popular online sales. The centers send stuff her way as well.
The store where the item was donated receives credit for the online sales.
In brief, Koebrick and her team decide what to list for auction. Joe Willson photographs it, and the photos and descriptions are uploaded. The auctions generally are five days but items can be relisted.
Prices generally start at $6. For special items, Amber Russo, Goodwill vice president of retail sales, said a reserve price is listed, which is the lowest price Goodwill is willing to accept.
The e-commerce operation occupies about 2,500 square feet of space at Goodwill's 4527 Lenox Ave. headquarters and distribution center in West Jacksonville. Staff wraps and ships the online sales as well as the books there.
A visit Monday found shelves of books and boxes and bins of items ranging from toys to sequined dresses to guitars. Sharpf said she found an 8-track jukebox, too.
"Some really cool things," says Karen Phillips, chief administrative officer of Goodwill of North Florida.
To handle the increasing sales, Goodwill is investing to accommodate the expansion.
Goodwill paid $499,000 in August for a 19,200-square-foot warehouse nearby at 4655 Lenox Ave. The price was 17 percent below the $599,500 taxable and market value of the 35-year-old building.
Last week, the city approved a permit for Tom Trout Inc. to renovate almost 8,000 square feet of space there for the e-commerce operation. The project cost of almost $366,450 will help set up the rest of the building for more Goodwill functions.
Goodwill's sales revenue supports education, training and job placement programs for people with disabilities and other barriers.
Goodwill said 89 cents of every dollar generated from sales is directed toward that mission. This year, more than 12,000 people will be placed in jobs through Goodwill of North Florida.
In 2012, Goodwill of North Florida received 561,000 donations, generated $21 million in revenue from retail operations, provided employment services through its Job Junctions to almost 53,000 people and placed more than 11,500 into jobs.
Goodwill of North Florida ranked No. 2 nationwide in job placement.
Goodwill employs about a dozen people among staggered shifts in the e-commerce center. The move to the new building, expected by the end of February, will allow Goodwill to hire more employees for the business, which now is staffed 7:30 a.m.-6 p.m. Monday-Saturday.
Goodwill of North Florida listings can be found on shopgoodwill.com by clicking on "search," and then looking for Goodwill Jax on the pull-down menu under "seller."
The 1,027 items listed on the Goodwill of North Florida site early today ranged from a $277.99 bid for a vintage Gucci blue leather purse to $9.99 for a Timex pocket watch and $6 for a first printing of "Iberia: Spanish Travels and Reflections" by James Michener, published in 1968.
The description of "Law Triumphant" says it was a gift to the Jacksonville Art Museum. The boots are from the Starke store.
Buyers of items from the Jacksonville auction can pick up the goods at the Lenox Avenue offices if they prefer.
Books continue to sell well, although e-reader devices began to affect sales. Phillips said Goodwill continues to make "some decent money" from books.
Participating Goodwills nationwide offer art, antiques and collectibles as well as other items pulled from their inventories of donated goods for the online auction. Shoppers can find more than 60,000 items on the site at any given time. TheNonProfitTimes.com reported in May that shopgoodwill.com has generated more than $190 million since its founding.
Goodwill affiliates sold an estimated $48 million on the auction site during 2012, and $12 million from January to April this year.
The nonprofit site said 139 of 165 Goodwill affiliates are registered to sell through the website, which takes a percentage from the selling price on a sliding scale based on how many items an affiliate posts each month.
By the way, Koebrick and Russo likely seem familiar because they helped establish Goodwill's Bluetique boutique that opened in November 2011 in Ponte Vedra Beach.
Vintage or what?
When Goodwill Industries of North Florida describes its items for the shopgoodwill.com e-commerce site, it follows an online-retail list that provides these guidelines:
Modern — 2000-present
Retro — 1984-99
Vintage — 1920-83
Antique — Pre-1920
Does Generation X (born between 1965-80) realize it is now vintage?