Earlier this year, Goodwill flip-flopped on its decision to sublease space to Mohammad Al-Widyan's shop at least twice. Al-Widyan's troubles started when Goodwill set out to lease 1,800 square feet beneath WW's offices on 10th for a new retail store. For 13 years, Al-Widyan had subleased about a third of that space from the prior occupant, PIP Printing, which says he never made a late payment.
Al-Widyan approached Goodwill about renewing his sublease, and in mid-August, Al-Widyan says Goodwill regional sales manager Lisa Allen indicated that the nonprofit thrift merchant wanted him to stay. But Al-Widyan received a letter Sept. 2 from the property's manager stating Goodwill now wanted his space after all and telling him to be out by Sept. 18.
Then, Goodwill acknowledges, Allen showed up Sept. 14 with Goodwill operations director Peter Collins, offering to sublease to Al-Widyan for a year at a higher rent. Al-Widyan accepted the offer, but he got another letter Sept. 24 from the property manager indicating that Goodwill had again changed its mind, giving him just one week to get out.
That set off a monthlong dispute, during which all sides lawyered up and accounts of what happened differ. Goodwill general counsel Robert Barsocchini told WW last week that Allen wouldn't have negotiated a sublease, because that isn't her job. He adds that Al-Widyan angrily rejected Goodwill's attempts to accommodate his move-out needs.
But it seems reasonable that Al-Widyan would be angry, given his understandable assumption that Allen represented Goodwill. Acting on that belief, he canceled plans several times to sell his expensive restaurant equipment. And while Goodwill is within its rights to refuse to sublease, we expected a little more professional treatment.