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From Volunteer to Store Manager: Donnie’s Goodwill Story

  • Sarah Wilson |
  • | Mission
Donnie Storms - Jordan Creek Store Manager

If you’ve recently visited our Jordan Creek location, chances are you’ve been welcomed by acting Store Manager, Donnie Storms. Welcoming everyone in and spouting out the deals of the day, he has the charisma to connect with all of the regular customers. Beyond his clear knowledge and passion for his role, what’s not evident is the winding journey Donnie took to get where he is today. His path reinforces that hard work and a support system can make all the difference.

As he reflected on his Goodwill story told below, Donnie recalled why he remains committed to Goodwill. His reflection begins as he visits the headquarters building for orientation. “I got to sit down with some really cool people. We had lunch and there were participants at the lunch tables with us. I learned about their favorite sport teams, favorite colors, and what they had done that day. That really sparked more love for Goodwill. I got to learn that they’re there to earn their own living. They’re excited that they can pay their own rent. They can afford to get themselves back and forth to work on the buses. Those are huge achievements. Then I got to take that experience back to my store and I got to express it. When people ask what our mission is, usually it’s when we ask if they want to round up to further Goodwill’s mission. I get to tell them stories about these same people that I met, especially with the cash mats that have Goodwill stories in them. I get to point at it and be like, this is Jessica. We helped Jessica.  She gets to rent her own room and fund her own transportation. And it’s because of Goodwill that she’s learning new things every day. Usually after a story like that, people agree that it’s amazing. When you can get a customer involved in taking an interest in Goodwill, it’s rewarding.”

BEGINNING HIS JOURNEY

Donnie first came to Goodwill in 2005 as a volunteer at our former Knoxville location through his high school’s school-to-work program. The next year, Donnie was a senior in high school. The store manager of the location he volunteered at remembered his passion and invited Donnie to apply to their newly opened part-time position. So he applied. Because Donnie was a high school student, he did not immediately attend orientation, which is typically required of all new hires in order to gain a better understanding of Goodwill beyond the retail stores.

Donnie worked hard throughout the next few months and soon was offered a key-holder position, offering extra responsibilities. Asked what he thought of this promotion, Donnie responded, “In my opinion, that my manager would trust me so quickly, it was super cool.” Over the next ten years Donnie relished his time at the Knoxville store. He enjoyed his co-workers, regular customers, and the customer service he was able to provide.

One day, the District Manager approached both Donnie and the store’s Assistant Manager to let them know the Store Manager planned on retiring. She asked if either of them would be interested in becoming a Store Manager. When the Assistant Manager passed up the opportunity, Donnie considered his next career move. Of this next move, Donnie offered, “I was kind of hesitant, but it was like all of the pieces were falling into place. I had my sister in Des Moines and she needed a roommate. So I was like, call it the South Side story. I called the District Manager back the next day and said ‘I’ll transfer to South’.” 

Taking the Next Step

Once Donnie arrived in Des Moines, he took over new responsibilities and learned a whole new retail store’s system of operating. After months of learning the ropes at the South Des Moines location, Donnie had formed new connections with co-works and customers alike. This new journey sparked Donnie’s interest in taking on new projects. Now known for tackling difficult tasks, he says he loves the challenge of learning something different, taking a risk, and improving processes. 

Tackling a New Project

Once Des Moines area District Manager DeAnne heard of Donnie’s love for taking on projects, she offered him a temporary position on the Blue Label Production team. The person in charge of this team had been out due to medical reasons. This team is stationed within the headquarters building and prepares donated inventory to be sent out to under-performing stores. This helps struggling locations quickly put great items out on the floor for customers to purchase.

During his time on this new team, Donnie worked through process improvements and had revamped the system to be more efficient and effective. Once the team lead was able to return, Donnie was offered his next promotion to Assistant Manager of the outlet.

A Whole New Experience

If you’ve ever visited a Goodwill outlet, you know that the atmosphere is very different from the typical retail store. It’s all about rummaging through bins to find the hidden treasure, as items are priced by the pound. This type of set up can translate into chaos if not managed properly. 

Asked about his experience working at the outlet, Donnie responded, “It was different. The production was very different. The customer service had to be different. I found myself going up to customers and asking them if they were finding everything okay. However, they would just say ‘I don’t really know what I’m looking for’. So I had to change my mindset and the questions I asked to provide excellent customer service.”

With months of outlet experience under his belt, Donnie was able to manage the environment and learned some invaluable experiences that he would bring with him throughout the rest of his journey with Goodwill. When asked what made him successful as an Assistant Manager at the outlet, Donnie offered what he learned, “You have to have a presence. You can’t fake it, you have to own it in order to have authority.”

Advancing His Career

Known for being a team player and tackling projects, Donnie was asked to help out on his days off at the Jordan Creek location. Always willing to help, Donnie accepted. Not one month later, the District Manager asked Donnie to join the Manager-in-Training program officially and begin running the Jordan Creek store permanently. Excited by this new challenge, Donnie gladly accepted. During his time so far managing the Jordan Creek location, he has offered up new ideas to improve the store and processes. Donnie hopes to create the type of atmosphere he first experienced as a volunteer in Knoxville and inspire others as he was.

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