We are big fans of Goodwill, which has put genuine effort into upgrading and organizing the shopping experience for its customers in recent years.
What is not widely known is that Goodwill has created boutiques, typically for clothing only, in 65 cities nationwide.
When you travel, it’s a good idea to see if there’s a Goodwill boutique in a city you’re visiting. Although they are listed on the Goodwill website (www.goodwill.org) under retail shops, they’re branded with other names.
In upstate New York, as in several Pacific Northwest cities, the boutiques go under the name “Blue.” If you’re lucky enough to be in Rochester, New York, you’ll want to make a beeline for Monroe Avenue, as it is home to three thrift stores, an excellent consignment shop and Blue, a Goodwill boutique offering high-quality inventory and low prices.
(On the other end of the thrift scale, Goodwill also has a clearance center in Rochester, with drastically reduced prices on furniture, clothes, electronics and housewares. That two-year-old center is at 4 Champeney Terrace.)
The Blue boutique is one of 13 Goodwill stores in Rochester/Finger Lakes area. The boutique technically is in the village of Pittsford, just east of downtown. Located in a building where previous tenants repaired wheelchairs and sold paint, this seven-year-old shop has been remodeled to accommodate well-organized racks and rounders. There are attractive displays with decorative accents, such as antique tables and trunks, and mirrors and paintings adorn the walls. The spacious dressing rooms feature velvet curtains and thick-framed mirrors.
The quality of the offerings is exceptional. How about a pristine navy wool Pendleton Chesterfield coat for $9.99? Or two stylish maroon mohair winter coats, one trimmed in leather, each for $8.99? Brown wool houndstooth Ralph Lauren pants are an eye-popping $5.99.
The 50 percent off racks yield even greater bargains, Peggy found on her visit. An immaculate black velvet long skirt with a kick pleat was marked down to $2.49. An on-trend white and black polka dot Jeffrey and Dara long evening skirt, with its original tags from Dillards department store, was $10 (originally $79). She topped off her purchases with a never-worn white wool winter hat for $1.
This is a thrift store where men, women and children can buy an entire wardrobe of high-quality clothing and shoes for very reasonable sums. Women’s clothing predominates, however. The shopping experience is easy, with all garments on wooden hangers and extremely well-organized by size and with some racks just for favored brands. Peggy saw special racks for Talbots, Guess, Juicy Couture, Chico’s, plus sizes and several racks of up-to-date formal wear and wedding dresses. There are several attractive shoe and boot displays.
The front of the store offers housewares, gift items and jewelry.
The bonus at Blue and the other Goodwill stores is that you’re supporting the nonprofit’s many social service programs. The shop partners with a number of community groups, helping to provide clothing, including outfitting recent arrivals to a local domestic violence center.
“We try to educate our community about the good that comes from their clothing donations,” explained Mary Boland, director of marketing for Goodwill in Rochester and the Finger Lakes region. “It’s a challenge to keep up with sufficient boutique items, but we work hard to keep the inventory up.”
We appreciate their hard work. As their motto states, “Good deals. Good Cause. Goodwill.”
Blue, a Goodwill Boutique, 3350 Monroe Ave., Rochester, NY 14618. 800-466-3945 http://www.goodwillfingerlakes.org Open Monday – Saturday 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.; Sunday noon – 5 p.m.