Yesterday, mid-day, I had an unnerving experience at the Cave Spring Goodwill retail store in the Roanoke area. As I wandered through the store, I noted a balding, crew-cut, 60-plus-year-old man, tall and rumpled, bent over a shelf of used books, rummaging. He seemed unsteady.
I watched as he quickly reached for his chest and pushed a falling gun back into a shoulder holster. It was slipping out as he bent over, to look at book titles, I assume. I passed close by him, smelling alcohol and watching as he pushed the gun back. It pointed directly at me and was, I figured, a .45 (I am not a gun expert, so that is a guess). I moved away from him quickly. I noticed others did, as well.
I wasn't sure what I could/should do, since open carry is legal in Virginia, so I left. I noted the experience on my Facebook page and got a lot of advice about what I should have done, including calling the cops or management because the man smelled of alcohol. Management at these Goodwill retail stores is rarely--in my experience--imposing or assertive, the kind of people who might confront a gun-toting old man who smells of booze. I said nothing before I left.
Today, I dropped a note--via the Goodwill of the Valleys' Facebook page--to the management and got a quick response from my old friend Michele Crim, who works in marketing. She said executives would "pass along" my message to marketing and sales people, but that "this is a big gun area" and Goodwill would not want to offend gun owners.
|The Goodwill gun looked like this.|
Meanwhile, I will check with several other second hand stores whose business is helping the less fortunate--Joy Johnston's the Rescue Mission, the DAV, Salvation Army and my good friend Annette Patterson's Charity Cottage Thrift Store is in Vinton, as well as a few others--for alternatives. If Goodwill does not comply with the request, I will strongly urge people to donate to those charities and do their buying at them.
Goodwill, whose executives earn in the six and seven-figure range and whose workers do not, is a huge organization, maybe too big to take our complaint seriously. We'll see.