As experienced thrifters know, America’s stalwart resale empire – Goodwill Industries – now has updated stores and locations in a variety of neighborhoods. It has a big digital presence, with some of its best items displayed and available online at shopgoodwill.com and at the Goodwill shops on eBay and Amazon. But did you know there now are 65 Goodwill boutique stores as well as its more traditional 2,900 stores across the country?
These stand-alone stores do not emphasize the Goodwill name or carry the familiar square blue logo. The boutique effort, begun primarily in 2011, raises revenue in higher-income areas to support Goodwill’s job training services. The boutiques also are Goodwill’s response to inroads by for-profit resale clothing chains such as Clothes Mentor and Buffalo Exchange.
The boutiques, which have handsome fixtures, well-dressed mannequins and designer goods, resemble clothing stores carrying new merchandise. Many have polished wood floors, exposed brick walls and attractive displays.
In the Olympic and Rainier region of Washington state, they are known as Blue Boutiques and carry brands such as Burberry, Ralph Lauren, Prada, Coach, Brooks Brothers and Kate Spade. Signage in the boutique reminds shoppers that its resale clothing is “Good for your Closet, Good for the Environment, Good for your Community.”
The stores’ oval “Blue” logo carries a smaller discreet line reading, “A Goodwill Boutique.” The Blue concept also is found in downtown Akron, OH, and Rochester, NY, among other locations.
In Orange County, CA., three boutiques are called O.C. Goodwill Boutiques and are located in Tustin, Lake Forest, and Huntington Beach. Another, called “Rare,” in downtown Anaheim, focuses on hipster gear for younger shoppers and includes a vinyl record listening lounge in its industrial chic setting. Redondo Beach, CA, has the specialty store Edgar & James, which bills itself as “a curated collection by Goodwill.”
Just blocks from the Denver Country Club is Colorado’s Déja Blue Boutique, with designer label goods nestled in a brick cottage. In Ft. Myers, FL, it’s known as “Boutique on First by Goodwill,” located in the Woodford Park neighborhood on First Street. Like most Florida thrifts, it carries both clothing and furniture.
Recently, Peggy visited the sparkling Goodwill-Easter Seals Minnesota boutique called Second Début in the St. Louis Park neighborhood of Minneapolis. It was an early Goodwill boutique, founded in 2005, and she was knocked out by its collection of what it terms “renewed fashions.” Designers such as St. John and Eileen Fisher had their own sections. Prices were much higher ($20 to $120) than regular Goodwill fare, but all were top designer goods, many with their original tags.
The beautifully organized store has chandelier lighting and polished wood floors. Framed fashion shots were hung on groupings of fancy jeans, for example, and were also used to spark interest in hot colors (millennial pink) and evening wear (sequined dresses). Color-coordinated displays encouraged shoppers to buy shoes, scarves and jewelry to accompany their clothing finds. (The shoes and handbags get star treatment in blond wood shelves and tall racks.) Special events, like a Saturday seminar on how to layer with leather, are held frequently in its community room, which is available free for club meetings, showers and women’s events.
As in most boutiques, there is a menswear section. Gift cards are available and your purchases are tissue-wrapped and given special shopping bags.
As always, with Goodwill, the essential item you’re purchasing is help for people to find skills, jobs, permanent housing. The Goodwill motto prevails: “Donate Stuff. Create Jobs.”
Second Début Renewed Fashions and Art Boutique, 4300 W. 36th ½ St., St. Louis Park, MN 55416. 952-922-9640. Open 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday; 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday; noon to 5 p.m. Sunday.