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If you’ve ever dropped a Prada bag or designer jacket in the Goodwill bin in a moment of altruism, chances are it ended up in one of the 60 fancy boutiques the nonprofit recycler of clothing and other items has opened since 2011.
The addition of the toney resale stores is a response to a growing demand for thrift shop goods sold in an upscale atmosphere, says Alfred Vanderbilt, spokesperson for Goodwill’s New York-New Jersey operations.
“It’s a response to the times,” he said. “We definitely have to compete based on people’s economic situations more than against other companies.”
The Los Angeles Times, which reported on the opening of a new chic shop in Huntington Beach, California, on Thursday, said the decision to open boutiques in some communities came amid proliferating competition, including from for-profit thrift stores, following the recession.
The market research firm IBISWorld has reported that the resale industry often shows an inverse relationship with the economy: People shop at thrift stores when times are tough, then return to traditional retailers when they get back on their feet. So Goodwill may have timed the financial cycle just right by deciding to begin opening the higher-end outlets as the recession was ending.
Vanderbilt said the boutiques also tend to create a cycle that drive more donations of quality goods.
“You get a better, higher quality of donation in the better neighborhoods, there’s a natural progression that follows there,” he said. “You get a better chance of pulling in higher-end merchandise.”