Show of Goodwill

The thrift chain gets hip.

Somewhere between the cast-off clothes and piles of old pots and pans, Goodwill got chic.

While Goodwill has long been a resource for vintage trawlers and bargain-seeking shoppers, the chain’s Washington-area execs realized they weren’t capturing a key group: stylish professionals.

In stepped Em Hall, who last year was appointed retail marketing manager and put in charge of launching a fashion blog, organizing an annual high-style fashion show, and starting “trunk shows” that bring the choicest Goodwill donations, like designer bags and jeans, to central locations. Many area stores—from Gaithersburg to Falls Church—began getting overhauled as well, with fresh paint, brighter lighting, and a more organized presentation.

Hall now has devotees who follow her blog, check out new styles in a fashion look-book, and see what items she’s plucked out of Goodwill to put on eBay. Such a sale nets the nonprofit more money but is still a deal for the buyer: Two never-worn Diane von Furstenberg dresses recently sold for $51 and $96, less than half of the original retail prices.

“We may be a secondhand store,” says Brendan Hurley, Goodwill of Greater Washington’s senior vice president of marketing and communications. “But that doesn’t mean we can’t be cool and contemporary.”

Related:
Blogger Beat interview with Em Hall 

This article appears in the August 2008 issue of Washingtonian magazine. To see more articles in this issue, click here.

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