Goodwill stores getting a facelift

The remodel is focused on improving displays at Goodwill stores.
The remodel is focused on improving displays at Goodwill stores.

The survey of 800 Goodwill shoppers said it was time for a change.

Terry Hayes, CEO at the Tacoma-based headquarters of the 15-county Goodwill Olympics and Rainier Region, got the message.

The first redesigned store in Western Washington will be celebrating its grand opening this weekend in Tacoma. Stores in Federal Way and Auburn will follow shortly, with four more scheduled to find a facelift later this year. Ten additional stores will be revived in 2017, and 30 stores altogether will be refurbished throughout the region over the next few years.

Look for larger and brighter signage directing shoppers to various departments. Look for a single checkout lane feeding a bank of cashiers, and look for a seating area near the book section, where shoppers (or spouses) can relax.

Fitting rooms have been placed in the center of the store to provide easier access and better security; carpets and linoleum have been replaced by polished concrete; and bold graphics throughout the store describe the mission of Goodwill: To provide jobs and job training to people in need. Near the checkout area, brochures are available that outline various Goodwill services for those very people, including training in computer, retail, barista and culinary skills.

There’s a well-placed electronics-testing station where you can confirm that the TV you’re thinking about buying really works, and there are various display areas, artfully arranged, that might make you think you’re in a department store rather than at Goodwill.

Mannequins will model the clothes. That’s relatively new at Goodwill. And look for seasonal clusters, with a Valentine’s Day collection and Easter bunnies nesting nearby.

“Once you see it displayed, it’s easier to shop,” Hayes said during a recent tour of the newly refurbished store at 3121 S. 38th St. in Tacoma.

“We have a whole new setup here,” she said. “We’re refreshing the stores for a new look at Goodwill. It presents what the customers want.”

Without releasing exact proprietary figures, Hayes said, “We’re spending six figures for each store. If we spend $100,000, it’s a great investment over time.”

The recent survey, conducted by the Seattle-based marketing consultancy Lenati, identified an overall strategy and outlined potential areas of growth.

Goodwill regional Marketing and Communications Director Chris Politakis reported that the 28 percent of the “growth market” will derive from millennials, either “Hip Vintage Supershoppers” or “Young Utilitarians.” Sixteen percent of potential growth is given to “Lifelong Thrifters,” who comprise the current core market, and 14 percent is aimed at “Mid-Life Deal Seekers.”

“We want the store to appeal to younger buyers,” he said.

“It’s a Goodwill store for everybody,” said Hayes. “We’re trying to be a bit more stylish.”

“It looks better. I think you can actually see where things are,” said Marsha Setbacken, an employee at the Lakewood store who was helping apply finishing touches in Tacoma earlier this week.

“I’m very excited,” said store manager Patty Thomas. “To be one of the first, it’s exciting.”

“I think it looks a lot neater and high-end, not second-hand,” said shopper Aubreanna Parker of Puyallup.

Festivities this weekend will include a Saturday radio remote broadcast hosted by a popular Seattle radio station, plus prizes and a drawing.

There’s also good news for bargain hunters.

Merchandise prices have not increased.

C.R. Roberts: 253-597-8535