Customers check out Tukwila's new Value Village store
By STEVE HUNTER
Tukwila Reporter Reporter
October 17, 2011 · 11:49 AM
John Polhill III didn't hesitate when asked what brought him out to the new Value Village store in Tukwila.
"I like to look good at a cheap cost," said Polhill, of SeaTac, as he searched for a shirt or two.
The Tukwila site, 16700 Southcenter Parkway, opened Sept. 29 at the old Toys R us store and became the 274th thrift store in the United States, Canada and Australia under the umbrella of Bellevue-based Savers. The company operates stores with trade names of Savers, Value Village, Unique and Valu Thrift. Savers started in 1954 in San Francisco.
"It's huge and spacious and well-maintained," said Polhill, who has shopped at other Value Village stores over the last five years. "It's a great place to shop. I encourage other people to do the same, after I shop."
Ken Alterman, in his eighth year as president and CEO of Savers, attended a special preview opening of the store.
"We are really excited about this store," Alterman said. "It's our largest in Seattle and one of the five largest in the country."
The 40,000-square-foot store is twice the size of the old Value Village store in Renton that the company closed in 2009. The store features more than 100,000 items and plans to add up to 12,000 new items per day.
The Renton location was the first Value Village store in Washington. Alterman's pumped to have found a new South King County location near the Southcenter Mall.
"We grew out of that store," Alterman said. "We wanted to stay in the area of Renton. We've been there 44 years. Ever since we closed it we've been looking in the area. Southcenter is just a natural. It's a destination shopping area."
Savers expects to open 23 stores nationwide by the end of 2011. The company just built a new, large store in Bellingham across the street from the old store.
"We're going larger because that's what customers want," Alterman said. "They want more selection, more variety."
Customer Pat Stimac, of Seattle, said she appreciates the choices as she picked through numerous evening gowns.
"I love the place," said Stimac who has shopped Value Village stores for 20 years and usually goes to the Crown Hill store in Seattle. "I love buying evening gowns, I found some."
The brightly lit store and long racks of clothing impressed Stimac.
"It looks like it's set up pretty much like all of their stores," Stimac said. "They're clean, they're light. They're a pleasant place to shop."
With a struggling economy, more people seemed to have discovered Value Village because of its low prices.
"One of the opportunities we've had in this recessionary environment, so many more people have been exposed to our brand that when they come in they're shocked that stuff is like near new and at 10 percent of the cost or less," Alterman said. "You can find five to 10 pairs of jeans in our store that are near new that are just like what you buy one pair for next door."
Value Village buys much of the clothing and household items from Seattle's Northwest Center, which serves the needs of children and adults with disabilities throughout the Pacific Northwest. Charities get paid on how much their deliveries weigh.
Most of the items not resold in the store are sent to a distribution center in Fife and shipped overseas from the Port of Tacoma to developing companies around the world. Only about 5 percent of items end up in landfills and most of those are broken items, Alterman said.
Eighty-five people work at the Tukwila location. Store hours are 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sunday.
"We're excited and hope that Southcenter will be as good for us as it's been for a lot of other retailers here," Alterman said.
The store features clothing, housewares, furniture, books, toys and other items. Value Village also has a large Halloween section.
"It's new establishment in the area and I know this area is good at donating first-class items," Polhill said. "I want to come through and take a look at some nice designer items."Contact Tukwila Reporter Reporter Steve Hunter at email@example.com or 253-872-6600, ext. 5052.