Goodwill Goes After Hipster Shoppers With New Boutique Store

The used-goods store opened a specialized retail space in Anaheim, Calif., to appeal to a younger, more stylish clientele.

(Photo: Courtesy

Dec 17, 2014· 1 MIN READ
Culture and education editor Liz Dwyer has written about race, parenting, and social justice for several national publications. She was previously education editor at Good.

If you’ve ever spent a Saturday afternoon combing through the racks of clothing at your local thrift store, you know that finding a shirt or a pair of pants that looks stylish (not dated) can sometimes be tough. But what if buying used items were more like shopping in a fashionable boutique, complete with attractive furniture, books, and clothing displayed to catch the eye of a younger, more chic clientele?

That’s the idea behind Rare by Goodwill, a community concept store full of upcycled skinny jeans and record turntables that opened in early December in Anaheim, Calif. According to the store’s website, the retail space is to spark shoppers’ imagination and help them “reinvent something to fit your individual personality.” To that end, “unique items, from clothing and shoes to home goods and décor, will be specially chosen and transformed into one-of-a-kind pieces by each individual shopper.”

The store is located in Anaheim’s Center Street Promenade, a newly remade downtown shopping district with vegan-friendly restaurants, a yoga studio, and shops that sell handcrafted jewelry—which all attract socially conscious and trendy millennial shoppers.

“We’re playing to the hipster crowd,” Corrine Allen, vice president of Goodwill’s retail operations, told the Orange County Register. To do that, the store’s website suggests that shoppers “turn a picture frame into a chalkboard for your kitchen or transform a jacket into a stylish vest.”

Sure, art installations made out of books and listening hubs with turntables where shoppers can check out used records seems a little like something out of an episode of Portlandia. But making buying used clothes appealing to a younger crowd is a smart idea. An appealing retail experience at Goodwill could get a new generation used to the idea of donating clothing instead of throwing it away. After all, the more existing clothing is upcycled, the less water and other raw materials need to be used to make new clothes. In New York state, for example, authorities are trying to encourage more textile recycling because an astounding 1.4 billion pounds of used shirts, pants, and tablecloths end up in landfills.

Goodwill hasn’t said whether it plans to expand the Rare concept across the nation. But as you can see from the photos above, the store does look like a pretty appealing place to shop.