In Iowa City, Goodwill Launches Cookie Baking Operation

Iowa Goodwill Great Cookies
Photographer: Larry Fisher, Quad-City Times

Goodwill of the Heartland (Iowa City) recently rolled out its own cookie brand “Goodwill Great Cookies” in 14 of its retail stores across a 19-county service area including parts of Eastern Iowa and Western Illinois.

Revenue from the cookies supports homeless veterans and others facing challenges to employment. As a result, the agency decided the brand tagline should be, “Eat a Cookie, Change a Life.”

The two cookie bakers and the delivery driver for the Goodwill Great Cookies baking operation are receiving employment assistance and support services through Goodwill’s program for homeless and disadvantaged veterans in the Quad Cities area.

Ken Rizer, senior vice president for operations, said “We intend to employ more people as the business grows.  The baking facility serves as transitional employment for our vets; they work for us at the same time they’re getting employment skills, job placement help, counseling and other needed support.”

Richard Thomas of LeClaire, IA, was hired as the Goodwill Great Cookies baking manager.  He brings 30 years of experience to the new bakery operation and is committed to the Goodwill mission.

The operation is an outgrowth of a restaurant business operated by Iowa City that employed people with disabilities. Rizer shared that bringing Goodwill Great Cookies to the broader marketplace happened through much collaboration. Goodwill partnered with both the marketing department at Iowa State University and with the Tippie School of Business at the University of Iowa to build its marketing and business plan.

Rizer stated, “Our strategy is to first sell the cookies in all of our Goodwill stores and to then branch out to grocery stores, convenience stores, universities, hospitals and more.  We’re starting with monster cookies, but hope to diversify as the business takes off.”

The generous-sized monster cookies weigh in at about 3.2 ounces each and are individually packaged for retail sale.  The suggested price is $1.49 per cookie.