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Goodwill launches online store so thrifters can shop from home | CBC News

Thrifters who flock to Goodwill stores will now be able to do more of their treasure hunting online.

The 120-year-old nonprofit organization on Tuesday launched GoodwillFinds, a newly incorporated shopping venture that is making roughly 100,000 donated items available for purchase online and expanding Goodwill’s internet presence that until now had been limited to auction sites like ShopGoodwill.com or individual stores selling donations online via eBay and Amazon.

Goodwill Finds ships to Canada in addition to the U.S., according to the store’s FAQs, but shipping isn’t free, “in order to optimize the funds available for making a positive impact in the community.” A used Kate Spade leather purse listed for $44.98 US was available to ship to Ontario for an $18.32 fee, for example, with an estimated delivery time of five days.

CBC News has reached out to Goodwill to ask if there are plans for a Canadian version of the online shop.

The website notes that buying used items helps keep “three billion pounds [1.36 billion kilograms] of used items out of landfills each year.”

In 2016, 347 kilotonnes of textiles wound up in Canadian landfills, according to the 2020 National Waste Characterization Report produced by Environment and Climate Change Canada. 

Second-hand clothing business is booming

The goal of GoodwillFinds is to have one million items on its site in a few years, said Matthew Kannes, newly appointed CEO of the online shopping arm, which features search tools that let shoppers browse by category. Eventually, GoodwillFinds will be personalized based on a customer’s past purchases.

The new venture will support Goodwill Industries International Inc. by helping fund its community-based programs across the U.S. that provide professional training, job placement and youth mentorship. It should also increase donations, while helping to expand its base of customers.

Unlike rivals like Thredup and Poshmark, customers cannot use GoodwillFinds to make donations and will still have to visit one of the organization’s 3,300 U.S. and Canadian Goodwill stores to drop them off — for now. But Kaness said that as the business expands, Goodwill will eventually offer that service.

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The move comes as the second-hand clothing business is expected to grow 16 times faster than the broader retail clothing sector by 2026, according to a report by research firm GlobalData for Thredup. It’s also happening at a time when surging inflation is pushing shoppers to be thriftier.

“Our new social enterprise makes it easier for the conscious consumer to shop sustainably online, while heightening the thrifting experience they’ve come to love at Goodwill,” Kaness said.

In 2021, retail revenue from donations to Goodwill was more than $5.4 billion US, the organization said. GoodwillFinds follows in the footsteps of ShopGoodwill.com, which launched in 1999 and sells many items via auction.

Donations still made in store

“Goodwill is a very big part of the second-hand market, but it’s been focused on stores. That is its heritage,” said Neil Saunders, managing director at GlobalData Retail, “Online has been an afterthought and done very informally with the regions.”

Karness said that when shoppers donate to the stores, workers will figure out which item will be designated online. Workers inspect each item but they don’t clean it. If it is very dirty or not good quality, they won’t sell it. Items designated for online will then be digitized. Purchases will either be packed and shipped from the store or a cluster of stores’ mini-warehouses.

A sign that says 'goodwill'
A Goodwill store sign is shown in Berkeley, Calif., on March 9, 2021. Goodwill Industries International Inc., the 120 year-old non-profit organization that operates 3,300 stores in the U.S., and Canada, has launched an online business. (Jeff Chiu/The Associated Press)

A spokeswoman for the online venture said that because items from GoodwillFinds ship from a variety of Goodwill locations, shipping options and fees will vary per item. During the checkout process, customers will be offered the shipping options available for their items based on their shipping address.

She said that GoodwillFinds accepts returns for items that arrive damaged or if there’s an inaccurate or incorrect item in the customer’s order.

The vision for GoodwillFinds came from a consortium of Goodwill members throughout the country, including Evergreen Goodwill of Northwest Washington, which wanted to tap into the organization’s full potential.

Daryl Campbell, the CEO of Evergreen Goodwill of Northwest Washington, said he expects that revenue for his consortium of 24 stores in his area will double from the $24 million US it did last year within the next five years because of the centralized online approach.

He also predicts that he will be able to double its online business to 32 per cent of its consortium’s sales in the next few years.


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