New Sim­ply Good­will Con­cept Store Be­ing Tested In Roanoke, Vir­ginia

ForbesWeekly - - NEWS - BY MAR­CIA LAY­TON TURNER, FORBES CON­TRIB­U­TOR

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.

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