Friday, September 2, 2016

Guns in Goodwill: Looking for a Solution (Texas Has One)

(Update: Morena Hockley of San Antonio, Texas, who read this blog post this evening sent the accompanying photo of a sign in the Goodwill retail store near her. Click on the sign and its size will increase, so you can read it. Morena says, "Our 'tiny' signs in Texas. This is the required signage for it to be legal, because the Texas Republicans are so business friendly." The excessive verbiage--in two languages--was required by the Texas GOP (probably to discourage the signs). In a nutshell, they tell gun owners to keep their guns out of the stores. This can--and should--be done in the GW stores in the Roanoke area.)

 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.
I told her I was offended and did not feel safe in Goodwill because of the presence of the gun, and that I would no longer shop there if guns were not prohibited from the retail stores. I told Michele that I am affiliated with gun control groups and I would work to boycott the stores if they don't eliminate guns from their premises. I told her I would wait to hear from her on Goodwill's decision.

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.

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