Upscale marketing can be an uneasy fit with a thrift store. Sadly, we see this in a three-month old Goodwill Boutique in Pawley’s Island, S.C.
Housed in a large stand-alone store along the main north-south route in the Grand Strand resort area, the store is subtly advertised with the script logo “GW,” referring to Goodwill. The traditional blue Goodwill logo is barely in evidence, even though you are directed by a large outdoor sign to donate items at the drive-through behind the store.
The store is meticulously organized by color, grouped around carefully arranged displays of clothing and accessories. Every garment is hung on black felt hangers. There are ample, clean dressing rooms, plus public bathrooms, and pink upholstered couches for non-shopping guests to use.
Visually, everything looks great. It’s the price tags that are all wrong. The basic price appears to be $19.99 for all pieces of clothing, with many $29.99 and $39.99 tags too. There are a few $8.99 garments to be found, but most items are well beyond what’s reasonable for resale, even though there are many never-worn pieces carrying original tags.
One Jones New York citrus green cardigan was a case in point. An earlier tag, probably from a regular Goodwill store, had it marked down from $20 to $5. Despite that, its new GW tag listed the cotton summer sweater at, yes, $19.99.
Goodwill has other boutique stores across the country, but we’ve never seen one with such high prices and such uniformity in its price tags. There’s a small section of men’s clothing and some home décor items, such as tableware and sconces.
We passed on a sleeveless silk Max Studio blouse, a Calvin Klein windowpane polyester long-sleeved blouse, a gold satin Victoria’s Secret blouse and a raspberry Alfani blouse with silver hobnails, all because they each carried a non-thrift price of $19.99. At $9.99, we might have considered them, but the $10 surcharge (in our mind) put them outside of even a thrift purchase, no matter how boutique their surroundings. Our only purchase was a charming $3.99 SpongeBob Square Pants watch (needing a new battery) for a friend.
The GW Boutique occupies the space once used by the Take 2 Resale thrift. That shop moved a half-mile north to smaller quarters. There, we found two large 75 percent off sale racks out front and a better variety of prices inside.
The Take 2 shop still has higher prices and better labels than most thrifts, but we found two pair of nice polyester/spandex shorts from Chico’s Weekend line for $4.50 each and a pink linen shirt from David N for $9. There were some lovely unused housewares, like a set of seven painted china ramekins for $12, and a new piece of $200 Lucas rollaboard black luggage for $83.
The prices are on a timed reduction schedule, so you can save money by crossing your fingers and waiting. We found a vintage Whiting & Davis off-white mesh purse for $40. If we had the patience and luck to wait for six weeks, it will be $29.
For those Grand Strand vacationers who need bargain basement prices for items forgotten in packing or lacking in a rental house, there is a regular Goodwill in Murrells Inlet and a Salvation Army in Litchfield, both on or adjacent to the same Ocean Highway as the GW Boutique and Take 2 Resale thrift.
GW Boutique, 11115 Ocean Highway, Pawleys Island, SC 29585. 843-790-8661.Open Monday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Sunday from 10 a.m. – 7 p.m.
Take 2 Resale, 13089 Ocean Highway Unit B2, Pawley’s Island, SC 29585. 843-237-8447. firstname.lastname@example.org. Open Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Goodwill Industries of Lower South Carolina, Inc., 3655 Old Kings Highway, Murrells Inlet, SC 29576. 843-790-8647. Open Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Sunday from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Salvation Army Thrift Store, 14792 Ocean Parkway, Pawley’s Island, SC 29585. 843-235-3918. Open Monday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 4:45 p.m.