Rib Mountain — The Talent Shop, a program of Goodwill Industries of North Central Wisconsin in the Wausau area since 2008, will close Dec. 31, 2017, according to a Goodwill news release issued this week.
The program, set in Goodwill NCW’s Rib Mountain Retail Store and Training Center since 2011, gives work and volunteer opportunities to Marathon County residents of at least 50 years of age. The Talent Shop gives local artisans a place to display and sell their wares in a professional retail setting.
Goodwill NCW took ownership of The Talent Shop program in 2008 after Lutheran Social Services declined to continue the program in downtown Wausau. With the help of the Community Foundation of North Central Wisconsin, the program operated in that location until it moved to the Rib Mountain store in 2011.
Artisans, volunteers and team members of The Talent Shop were notified of the decision to end the program last week and early this week. Artisans have the choice to keep their merchandise — woodworking, quilts, clothing, painting and more — in the store at 1100 Morning Glory Lane until year’s end, or remove the merchandise.
Robert A. Pedersen, president and CEO of Goodwill NCW, said the decision to end the program was based on business considerations.
“Many retailers are in a challenging environment today, and Goodwill has seen some of that, too,” Pedersen said. “We gave The Talent Shop the opportunity to reach budgetary goals, and invested in floor-space, overhead and salary, but ultimately, we came up short.
“We are so thankful for the work of our staff, our volunteers and our artisans in giving this program a chance to succeed. We showed our faith in their work by placing the program at the forefront of a beautiful new store in an attractive retail neighborhood.
“At the end of the day, however, we need to create more revenue in that space to support the more than two dozen human-services programs we offer across the state.”
Goodwill NCW operates stores in Rib Mountain and Weston in the Wausau area, plus other central Wisconsin stores in Marshfield, Plover, Shawano, Stevens Point, Waupaca and Wisconsin Rapids.
Goodwill offers job training to more than 200 people each year in its Rib Mountain and Weston stores, providing more than 7,000 hours of vocational training. The organization also serves the Wausau area through its Community Development Program, School-to-Work, Marathon County Restorative Justice Program, GoodNeighbor and Circles of Care programs, according to the release.
Among the options to replace The Talent Shop at the Rib Mountain store is a Goodwill boutique-themed store.
Goodwill NCW supports any community organization willing to help The Talent Shop find a new site. Anyone interested can contact Dan Flannery, senior vice president-engagement, at 920-968-6854 or firstname.lastname@example.org.