After months of renovation, Goodwill of South Central Wisconsin has opened a new location at 118 S. Main St. in the building left vacant for years when World of Variety closed in 2016.

Addie Peck, digital marketing coordinator, said 12 people were waiting outside the door before the store opened at 9 a.m. on Friday, June 26.

“Thrifters have got to thrift,” she said. “We’re happy to be here and happy to bring new jobs to the community.”

David Johnson, Goodwill of South Central Wisconsin communications coordinator, said the store has hired 28 employees, 11 of whom are Verona residents.

“Miller and Sons Supermarket, Park Bank and Dorn True Value Hardware have been supportive and good neighbors,” Peck said.

While under Phase 2 of Public Health Madison and Dane County’s ‘Forward Dane’ COVID-19 reopening plan, the store will be limited to 70 customers at any time — 50% of its capacity.

Goodwill of South Central Wisconsin is a regional chain that now has 13 stores across 14 counties. It is a Madison-based nonprofit.

Janet DesChenes, vice president of mission and brand development, said it was excited to be able to renovate a building that had been sitting empty. She said she felt the number of shoppers was just right for the first day at the store during the ongoing pandemic. Other store openings in the region have attracted larger crowds, she said, with more promotion, but the nonprofit aimed for a “soft opening” with the Verona location.

“We had a total of 468 shoppers in the store between its opening on Friday and Sunday. This is a strong turnout for a soft opening, but also allowed us to maintain social distancing mandates,” Johnson said. “This ensured a safe and healthy experience for our shoppers, while also keeping our staff safe.”

The original plans to renovate the former World of Variety store building had to be scaled back when in October last year, the council voted against proposed facade changes to the south Main St. building including a new roof, additional lighting, automatic doors to a donor access area and roll-up door for loading to and unloading from trucks or trailers with lift gates.

Despite those changes not being approved, Goodwill was able to upgrade the parking lot and its landscaping during its renovations.

At a Common Council meeting last fall, several alders stated that they had never received as much disapproving feedback from constituents about any other issue as they had for the proposed Goodwill store.

When word of the proposed store began to spread, posts made to social media such as Facebook and Nextdoor saw dozens of comments, many of which were negative.

At a council meeting in November last year, DesChenes told the alders objections raised by Verona residents were not based on facts — such as accusations that the company does not pay its employees with disabilities a minimum wage — which she refuted — and said the company provides workforce development for anyone with any barriers to employment. She also said all proceeds remain within the organization’s 14-county business area.

The store will be open 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., Monday-Saturday and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Sunday.

For information, visit goodwillscwi.org.

Neal Patten can be contacted at neal.patten@wcinet.com.