Branching off from the typical brand experience can be a big risk for retailers, especially if their primary experience is already successful and well known.
Goodwill of Orange County managed to build out one of its thrift shops into a trendy outlet for frugal shoppers by opening its newest community concept store, RARE by Goodwill, in Anaheim, Calif. The boutique styled store, which opened in December 2014, provides the 90-year-old organization with opportunities to evolve and keep pace with the changing consumer climate.
“The expectations for a shopping experience are significantly changed today from where they were 10 years ago, maybe even five years ago,” said Frank Talarico, Jr., President and CEO of Goodwill of Orange County. “By comparison, the reason why when you walk into RARE you think, ‘This is kind of cool,’ is because it’s meant to be cool. We want you to have a fantastic shopping experience, because otherwise, you might instead go to Anthropologie or a smaller footprint store. We very much see this model as allowing us to raise the expectation of our shopper from what was traditionally thought to be ‘I’m just going to shop for thrift.”
The new 4,708 square foot concept store sells donated items at competitive prices. Like the store’s name suggests, many of the items —which include handpicked clothing, furniture, home decor and antiques — are rarities that customers cannot find in many stores.
All the curated items are previously used, with some even repurposed for the new purchase in a process the retailer terms “upcycling.” By redesigning original products into new materials of higher quality and value, RARE By Goodwill differentiates itself and drives more traffic during periods when the average Goodwill store might not generate a crowd.
“If we’re focused on growing revenues so we can grow programs, we have to also understand that traditionally, while our income was typically steady, we were somewhat seasonal,” Talarico said in an interview with Retail TouchPoints. “Our biggest time of the year was Halloween. In order to do a better job of selling more stuff, I first have to make sure I have quality products and advertise that. That’s why you’ll hear us talk about the boutique stores having curated inventory. If you walk into a boutique store, you’re going to see name brands such as Burberry, Hugo Boss, Calvin Klein and other brands you would expect to see at a ‘better’ retail store.”
The store focuses on catering to the 18-24 year old market, according to Talarico.
“Most 21 year-old men and women going out on a Friday night probably want to look unique,” Talarico stated. “From a social dynamic, we are leveraging what is a very real and palatable dynamic right now, which is the thought that ‘I don’t want to look uniform.”
In 2013, Goodwill opened up its first boutique store, which targeted fashion-conscious shoppers interested in designer brands, in Tustin, Calif. The success of this location convinced developers at the Anaheim Center Street Promenade to deploy the model in their business district.
The company is presently undergoing expansion throughout Orange County, with the addition of stores in the southern part of the county holding priority. On top of that, the retailer has renovated its El Toro location and is presently rebranding its Huntington Beach store to make them look and feel like existing boutique stores.
“If you think about the different areas in South Orange County, you’re not going to find a 20,000 square foot space to begin with, and if you do, it’s probably not going to be well received by the community,” Talarico explained. “But I can put an 8,000 square foot boutique in those areas. If I put an 8,000 or even 6,500 square foot boutique in Newport Coast, it’s not only a store with retail operations, but it’s a donation center. In putting boutique stores in very affluent areas, as an example, the types of things I’m going to get donated in those same areas are going to be of better quality and precisely the inventory I want for my boutique stores.”