Two Goodwill warehouses in the Bay Area were forced to shut down over the weekend when staff members spotted evidence of bed bugs. The organization also had to throw away most of the donated goods stored in the warehouses at the time.
Infestations were suspected at a warehouse in San Francisco, and another in Burlingame, which services San Mateo County. Both locations were promptly shut down on Saturday, and the staff worked through the weekend to clear out the stored goods. They also worked to steam-clean hundreds of pounds of fabric items. By Monday afternoon, 15 debris bins – each with enough space to fill a semi truck – had been filled with items that couldn’t be treated. The cost of the damages, and loss in donated goods, is estimated to be in the hundreds of thousands of dollars.
“This is an enormous financial hit for us,” said Tim Murray, director of brand and marketing for Goodwill in the Bay Area. “We’re going way beyond what we have to for the health and safety of our team members and customers. This is a really unfortunate occurrence that has befallen us.”
Bug-sniffing dogs confirmed the San Francisco warehouse’s infestation on Monday. The bed bugs were isolated in a corner of the 30,000 square foot facility, which will be tented and treated by exterminators this week. The Burlingame warehouse is also scheduled to be treated in the coming days.
Inspections of Goodwill’s 21 retail stores in neighboring counties showed no signs of bed bugs, and all retail activity continued. However, the organization’s job training services were interrupted amidst the outbreak, and they could be forced to dispose of more donated goods, depending on the results of the Burlingame inspection. “We’ll do whatever it takes to isolate the outbreak,” Murray said.
Murray added that if anyone suspects that they have pests in their home, they shouldn’t donate items to Goodwill or anywhere else. Anyone hoping to donate to Goodwill’s Bay Area operation should wait a week or two until the warehouses are operational again.