New Simply Goodwill Concept Store Being Tested In Roanoke, Virginia
Many thrift store shoppers venture into places like Goodwill, Salvation Army and Savers thrift stores in search of treasure. For some people that might be newer clothing in their size, for others, cookware to stock their kitchen, home furniture and décor, paintings and prints to spiff up bare walls or inventory to resell. While shopping at thrift and charity stores was once a sign of limited funds, today it is considered smart and stylish to pick up gently loved items at a fraction of full retail.
Thrift shopping has gone mainstream. In any given year, between 16-18% of consumers shop in thrift stores, reports the Association of Resale Professionals, versus 11.4% of Americans who shop in factory outlet malls, 12-15% who shop at consignment stores, and 21.3% who shop in major department stores.
Adapting To Customer Preferences
At the same time, consumers are increasingly looking for a convenient shopping experience. That need for conve-
nience has driven some shoppers online in search of items they would previously have bought at thrift stores, explains Kelly Sandridge, vice president, marketing and public relations, Goodwill Industries of the Valleys in Virginia.
To compete, Goodwill made some changes of its own, organizing clothing by size and color on the racks, holding sales and bringing in new goods to supplement donated items. Goodwill also created its own online shopping portal, at Shopgoodwill.com, where stores nationwide have the opportunity to list higher-value items for sale.
Going Back To Its Roots
“These changes have been successful for our organization,” says Sandridge, “however, we have a core group of shoppers who have expressed that they missed the Goodwill that they remember from the past.” To cater to this group, Goodwill Industries of the Valleys is testing a new type of store format, called Simply Goodwill, in Roanoke, Virginia, where the idea originated. The first Simply Goodwill opened its doors in August 2017.
Simply Goodwill is more like “what a Goodwill store once was,” says Sandridge. “The store offers lower prices, which we are able to accomplish because we do not have the labor associated with sizing, tagging and sorting by color.” Shoppers have to hunt more for items in their size on racks of like items. Standard prices are listed for categories of items, rather than affixing individual price tags to everything, and 100% of the merchandise is donated—no new goods are brought in.
Prices at traditional Goodwill stores have children’s clothing starting at $1.99, adult clothing starting at $3.79 and other wares—such as kitchen and office appliances, glassware and toys, priced independently. At Simply Goodwill, children’s clothing starts at $1.00, adult clothing starts at $2.75 and other wares have standard price points on many items.
Potential For Nationwide Roll-Out
“Simply Goodwill is currently a concept store that our Goodwill is testing,” explains Sandridge. “If it continues to be wellreceived, we will look to potentially replicate it in other areas of our territory.” Whether the format is tested in other parts of the country will be up to local decision-makers, she says, since Goodwill stores are run independently.
Where Simply Goodwill is an effort to appeal to avid bargain hunters, several years ago Goodwill debuted an upscale boutique format to appeal to shoppers on the hunt for higher-end goods. As of 2015, Goodwill had approximately 60 such upscale stores.