Goodwill Goes Upscale With Boutiques

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Prada, Burberry, Chanel, oh my. These are top designer names that fetch big bucks for their products. But now, thanks to a new initiative by Goodwill (yes, I said Goodwill) you can often find these luxury goods for dirt-cheap prices at Goodwill Designer Boutiques.

goodwill boutique

Goodwill Industries International now has about 60 of these upscale Goodwill Designer Boutiques across the country and the number is growing.These stores tend to be in slightly more affluent communities and carry high-quality designer clothing and luxury home goods that are both new and used.

And these aren’t your old-style Goodwill stores. They have a more more retail feel (think Urban Outfitters and Anthropologie), window displays that rival for-profit shops and layouts that are hip, pleasant, clean and inviting.

goodwill boutique

The move by Goodwill is great news for savvy bargain hunters who want higher-end hand-me-downs at cheap-chic prices. It wouldn’t be uncommon to find Stuart Weitzman pumps that go for $350 at an upscale department store for around $14 and 7 For All Mankind women's jeans for $20. New at a department store, those jeans would probably cost around $200.

A few months ago, I scored a set of yellow four Le Creuset plates and four large bowls in the box for $30. I’m a Le Creuset fanatic and know that a single plate costs $29 at Sur La Table.

In recent years, Goodwill has been facing stiffer competition from for-profit thrift stores like Buffalo Exchange as well as websites that let people sell used designer clothing and auction sites like eBay. The Goodwill Boutiques help the non-profit company bring in more money, which in turn, allows it to provide more services to people who have difficulty getting jobs because of disabilities, drug addiction, criminal records and other employment barriers.

In addition to donations from individuals to the local Goodwill that are sent out to the Boutiques , some boutiques have relationships where local stores will donate “salvaged” goods. That means there is often a slight imperfection (like a ding in the foot of a chair or a missing button on a blouse) that doesn’t really affect the quality, but also doesn’t allow retailers to sell it as new. These retailers will also donate overstock or last season’s products to the Goodwill Boutiques.

Several of the Goodwill Boutiques in my area get regular donations from store including Target, Ikea, Levi’s Williams-Sonoma, Macy’s and others. Because there are new items coming in several days a week, going often increases your chances of finding a great bargain. If you see something you like buy it immediately. I’ve had two experiences where I waffled about a purchase, then returned to the store just hours later to find it was snapped up by another shopper.

But not everything in the boutiques are designer per se. There is still typical thrift store stuff (vases, used electronics, regular brand clothing, jewelry, etc.) mixed in. You do have to do some hunting – but that’s also part of the bargain thrill.

Threshold upholstered slipper chair photo

Here's a Threshold upholstered slipper chair that still had the wrapping on it. I paid $45. Online the cheapest I could find it for was around $179-$199.

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