Saturday, April 20, 2024

Like other thrift stores, Goodwills are in their element at Halloween and start reminding shoppers of the possibilities in early fall. (Photos: Goodwill Boston)

Goodwill groups its clothes in an almost-rainbow like order — all shades of red together, for instance, and all shades of purple similarly clustered, as at the Central Square store.

While the commercial landscape of Central Square has changed quite a bit in the past decade, its Goodwill store has remained much the same.

Walk into the Goodwill at 520 Massachusetts Ave. and you are bombarded with CDs and DVDs, everything from ’90s classics such as ‘N Sync and Mandy Moore to older acts such as the Beach Boys. Move through the store and you find the main attraction, clothes, starting withs shirts arranged in an almost-rainbow like order — all shades of red together, for instance, and all shades of purple similarly clustered. In the middle of the store, you can find assorted skirts, shorts and shoes. Move farther back and you find appliances such as television sets. All for a bargain, of course.

Goodwill is more than just a clothing store with great prices, though. An international not-for-profit, Goodwill focuses on improving the quality of life for underprivileged people worldwide. Its secondhand-clothing stores, 11 of which are in Massachusetts and one in Somerville, at
230 Elm St., Davis Square, are a major source of funding for helping Goodwill work with underprivileged people in many different areas of life.

“Part of the reason Goodwill is still popular is because all the profits from the clothing they buy go to Goodwill’s other programs, like the Fresh Air Summer Camps,” said Terry Williams, one of the employees at the Central Square store. Other examples of Goodwill initiatives include a youth mentoring program and job training and placement programs.

“People just like the general message of Goodwill,” said Alex O’Flaherty, another employee.

Is bargain hunting and the spirit of general giving and philanthropy enough to keep consumers interested, though?

James Harder, the public relations representative for Goodwill Massachusetts, believes the store has grown in popularity in recent years even as competitive thrift and vintage stores have appeared.

“I think that vintage and thrift has become more hot in retail over the past few years, in part because of the economy and in part because there’s a lot less stigma attached to it,” Harder said.

“You see more kinds of people shopping there who are more into that trend,” he said.

Goodwill Massachusetts’ mission, message and merchandise have not and will not change significantly in the near future, Harder said, but at some point improve marketing will be rolled out, including a new branding campaign already introduced to some of the other stores around Massachusetts.

It’s a “cleaner, fresher, more colorful look,” he said, for a product that still suits perfectly a changing Central Square.