PETERSBURG, Va. (WRIC) — Everything on the sales floor was a total loss after a 23-year-old intentionally started a fire inside a Petersburg Goodwill last Sunday.

According to police, on Sunday, Nov. 1, officers responded to a fire inside the Goodwill on 65 Crater Circle. At the scene, officers arrested Johnathan Phillips and charged him with arson and property destruction after police say he broke into the business and intentionally set it on fire.

Johnathan Phillips

“Unfortunately, we weren’t able to save that merchandise,” said Laura Faison, Goodwill Director of Marketing and Communications. “We’re looking at months and months of donations that were part of that. Just to give you an idea, we put almost 2,800 items on our sales floor every day, so thousands of items were on the floor.”

Petersburg police said there was no motive.

“What we know is a gentleman threw a rock through the window, proceeded to go inside and set a small fire,” Faison said. “The fire did not cause a lot of damage, but unfortunately, it did set off the sprinkler system which affected the entire inside of the store with water damage.”

The store will remain closed for the next 60 to 90 days, Faison added. Employees from the Petersburg location won’t lose their jobs, however.

“Fortunately, because we have 17 retail locations in this area, we were able to find other opportunities for them within our network, so no one was put out of work, they were all able to start the next day, and it actually benefited some of the area stores as well,” Faison added.

According to Faison, the Petersburg Goodwill is one of the busiest stores in Central Virginia. She adds that the closure impacts locals looking for affordable items and benefits from Goodwill.

“Shopping at the end of the year for a lot of folks can be really stressful, especially with the pandemic and those tightened resources,” Faison said. “We want folks to know that when they come into our stores, they’re going to find really unique items and heartfelt items, and we really hope they’ll visit us this time of year.”

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