Racks of clothes, shelves filled with glasses, dishes, pots, pans and shoes and cases lined with books are all clearly marked and neatly placed in a retail store in the heart of Metairie.

But what makes this space special is twofold — it provides employment for men and women who are disabled or economically disadvantaged and all the items sold benefit a longtime nonprofit organization.

Goodwill Industries of Southeastern Louisiana opened its 17th store this spring at 4329 Veterans Memorial Blvd. Formerly the site of a sporting goods store, the Metairie facility is approximately 20,000 square feet, and in addition to the retail space, the store includes a donation drive-thru, a donation sorting area, offices, dressing rooms, restrooms and a kitchen for employees.

“This is the first retail store we have had in Metairie, and thus far, the community has been very supportive,” said Robert Reese, vice president of retail operations for Goodwill. “The store is centrally located so it is convenient for both our shoppers and our donors.

“Everyone is very happy. In fact, on the day of our grand opening in May, we set a sales record,” she said.

The Metairie store is one of seven in the greater New Orleans area. Other store locations include:

  • North shore — 790 U.S. 190 in Covington; 4940 Highway 22 in Mandeville; and 184 Gause Blvd., Slidell.
  • New Orleans — 123 Robert E. Lee Blvd.; and 3400 Tulane Ave., which also is the location for Goodwill’s corporate offices.
  • East Jefferson — 397 West Esplanade Ave., Kenner; and 9323 Jefferson Highway, River Ridge.

Since 1947, Goodwill has operated three divisions — the retail stores, workforce development, which helps people to find jobs, and contracts, which provides janitorial, landscaping or other outsourced services to more than 20 federal, state and commercial sites.

Reese said the Metairie store has between 22 to 24 employees. Blue signage is placed throughout and all signs are written in both English and Spanish in an effort to help to steer customers to specific items.

“We want people who come here to see this store as a nice place to shop,” Reese said. “In turn, we also want our donors to have a convenient and easy way in which to make donations. And last but not least, we also want our employees to enjoy not only coming to work but enjoy working in a place that is attractive and pleasant.”

“We consider ourselves in many ways America’s first recycler,” said Sabrina Written, Goodwill’s marketing manager. “We take quality, donated merchandise and sell it at a reasonable price that someone else can afford and use. The majority of the donations we receive are gently used, high-quality products.”

But if someone donates an item or items they feel is in poor condition, they won’t sell it, she said.

“All of us with Goodwill have worked very hard to elevate and re-brand ourselves from a thrift store to a retail store.”

Store hours and donation hours are from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays and noon to 6 p.m. Sundays.

For information about the Metairie store, call (504) 309-5101 or go to the website, www.goodwillno.org.