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Goodwill Makes a Surprisingly Modern Move

Secondhand shopping is about to get a whole lot more accessible for consumers on the hunt for a fashionable bargain.

Thrifting for clothes has become an incredibly popular pastime. Buying used clothing, household items, or electronics is an incredibly effective way to help reduce our carbon footprint -- plus, it makes you feel like some kind of modern-day treasure hunter when you find a vintage gem hidden amongst the hangers.

According to online resale marketplace ThredUp's 2022 resale report, the secondhand market is projected to more than double by 2026, exceeding $82B. As the price of new items gets higher and our awareness of our environmental impact increases, more consumers are stocking their closets with second-hand styles and vintage frocks.

When it comes to thrifting, just about everyone thinks of Goodwill first. This 501(c)(3) charitable organization uses the revenue from its thousands of brick-and-mortar stores to fund community-based support and job training for folks who experience barriers to employment. Since its founding in 1902, the company has been providing job training for veterans, people with educational barriers, or people who need experience to enter the job market.

The last decade has seen Goodwill bargain-hunting catapult from whimsical hobby and lower-income staple to pop culture phenomenon. Macklemore’s hit 2012 song “Thrift Shop” captured the next generation's fascination with "your grandad's clothes". Shoppers and online influencers are often seen flashing their thrift store finds in  YouTube videos or on TikTok, and some are even making careers out of reselling second-hand furniture, clothing, and kitsch for a profit.

The Evolution of Thrifting

The magic of the internet has changed just about every retail market in existence, and thrifting is no different. In the early aughts, resellers would post their thrift-store finds on online shops on Etsy  (ETSY) - Get Free Report, rebranding secondhand items as "vintage." In recent years, websites like ThredUp, Poshmark  (POSH) - Get Free Report, and TheRealReal have created online marketplaces for users to buy, sell, and donate their gently-used high-end items to thrift fans online.

Of course, some critics have pointed out that the rising popularity of thrift stores means that item prices are going up, making many previously-accessible used items too expensive for the low-income families who depend on thrifting to clothe themselves. Others argue that thrift marketplaces, just like all other retail, is responding to regular inflation. Regardless, hunting for secondhand wares, whether for hobby or profit, has radically changed fashion retail.

Goodwill Goes Somewhere Its Never Gone Before

Thanks to the successes of online resale platforms, folks looking to breathe new life into used fashion crazes of old can have sequined '90s blazers and slightly-scuffed, gently worn sneakers delivered almost anywhere in the world. If you've got an internet connection and a mailbox, it doesn't matter how far away you live from the thrift store -- you too can start popping tags online.

After more than a century as the biggest name in the in-person thrifting economy, Goodwill is joining the worldwide web with its new online platform, Goodwill Finds. Based on the organically-named online trend #goodwillfinds, the mega-chain of resale shops now offers hand-picked quality items online for anyone to purchase. 

In the past, individual stores have been known to list higher-priced "boutique" items through third-party sites like Amazon. But as of yesterday, Goodwill Finds is fully up and functional, launching with almost 100,000 new (to you) finds and a promise of more to come, according to Goodwill Finds CEO Matthew Kaness.

"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.

As for donations, Goodwill's new online platform isn't quite ready to accept them by mail. For now, any donations to the organization will still need to be dropped off in person at a store near you.