New life for old boxes!

Local Goodwill shoppers are likely oblivious to the fact that Goodwill of Middle Tennessee is struggling to regain its financial footing. 

It is pretty much business as usual in the 36 thrift stores that Goodwill operates between Union City and Cookeville.

But in the corporate offices, the grind is on, as the leadership team wrestles with the fact that the area Goodwill organization, which has operated out of Nashville for 60 years, lost $1 million in 2015, $4.7 million in 2016, and an expected $3.6 million this year. 

Goodwill President and CEO Matthew Bourlakas and his team say they are optimistic, as they work through their three-year restructure plan, which is designed to return the storied organization to solvency so that it can continue its mission of providing training and jobs for people with “barriers to employment.”

This time last year, Goodwill made its troubled financial situation public, saying that due to declining donations, sagging sales and increasing retail competition, it had lost $1 million in the previous year.

The situation was described as “dire” and the leadership unveiled a cost-cutting turnaround plan, which included making the donations process more efficient by cutting overhead and job duplication, and consolidating the career solutions centers (going from 21 to 8 centers) that provide training and job readiness programs. The expected result is a leaner, more cost effective streamlined operation going forward.  

The plan also called for moratoriums on raises and travel, as well as creative retail promotions to bring in more shoppers, and opening more outlet stores. Goodwill also launched a first-ever fundraising campaign that…