Goodwill Planning to Open Dozens of Stores in Canada as Thrifting Grows [Interview]

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Goodwill, the number one global brand in resale, is looking to expand in Canada by opening more than 40 stores within the next five years due to the increased popularity of thrift shopping. 

“In the last decade I have seen a change and particularly since Covid as there has been more ethical shopping and people wanting to shop with conscience and because thrift enables reuse, recycle, and repurposing – they are obviously more ethical than fast fashion which is one of the world’s biggest polluters. We can reduce new and increase reuse and everybody knows it is better,” says Kelly Duffin, the President and CEO of Goodwill, The Amity Group

Rise in Resale 

Image: Goodwill
Kelly Duffin

Duffin said resale is one of the fastest growing segments in fashion and today it is mostly fuelled by young adults between the ages of 18 to 35 who are looking to buy fashion at a lower price, want to shop ethically, and who also enjoy looking for unique and personalized looks that you can’t find anywhere else.

Customers can find a variety of unique products such as clothing, jewelry, paintings, musical instruments, and vintage items. 

“There are also very real vintage things at Goodwill such as vintage lego, old computer games, old computers, typewriters, and other collectables – those would probably be the things that are special to people and unexpected.” 

New Locations

Image: Goodwill

Within the next five years, Goodwill is looking to add more than 40 stores in Canada and more than 75 new donation centers. Each storefront is approximately 20,000 square feet and each donation center is around 2,000 square feet. In total, Goodwill is looking to expand its footprint by adding a million square feet of retail and over 300,000 square feet in light industrial and warehouse space.

So far, Goodwill has three confirmed new locations in Ontario including Niagara Falls which will be opening next month, Waterloo which will open in May, and Burlington which will be announced at a later time. Along with these, Goodwill is adding three storefronts and donation centers in Quebec and they will be in Gatineau, Montreal, and Quebec City. Duffin says more will come as there are more locations in negotiation, especially in Quebec, Ontario, and Alberta. 

Image: Renaissance Goodwill

In Quebec, the key areas of growth Goodwill is looking at will include Montreal, Gatineau, Quebec City, Trois Rivieres, Drummondville, Victoriaville, and St. Hyacinthe.

In Ontario Duffin said they are looking at expanding further into London, Cambridge, Hamilton (including Stoney Creek and Waterdown), Burlington, Oakville, Milton, St. Catharines, Fort Erie, Dunnville, Welland, and Thorold. 

And lastly in Alberta, it is looking into areas such as Calgary, Edmonton, and Red Deer.

Duffin says with each new location, the retailers surrounding it will also benefit because it will draw in more customers: “We are also a traffic driver as our age demographic is what landlords want to pull into their sites. We can be an anchor and we can also be very complimentary to retail stores including to higher end retailers.” 

The Thrill of the Treasure Hunt 

Image: Goodwill

“It is the ability to find something unique and it is the thrill of the hunt because you actually don’t know what you are going to find. You can say you want to buy a pair of jeans because we do have that, but what you stumble across on your way is really unique and allows you to represent yourself in fashion that is different from other people as it is really a matter of self expression.” 

The treasure hunt has become very popular and people are enjoying the thrill of the hunt and want to spend money in a way that reflects their ethical values, Duffin says. Treasure hunting has been seen a lot on social media channels, even live treasure hunting, where someone walks into a thrift store and shows everyone what items they find and how much the original price was. Treasure hunters usually look for vintage items, designer label clothing, old electronics, and more. In Canada, a woman went treasure hunting with her followers and bought a dress that was only $17 to find out later it could be worth up to $10,000 as it was a Vintage Versace dress. 

How to Donate

Image: Goodwill

People can donate items at any store as each has a donation center. You have the option to pull up or walk in and someone will receive your donation. The other way is to go to its standalone donation locations where it is used for only dropping off donations and not for shopping. 

All storefronts and donation centers are fully staffed as Duffin says Goodwill is not an organization that has a lot of unattended bin collections as they prefer to personally receive the donations from people and to thank them. 

“Goodwill is the number one global brand in resale and we have an extensive history as we were founded in 1902, so we have been around a while and this is the opportunity to get on board with that is only a growing trend. Don’t be held back by misconceptions of your grandmother’s thrift store – get on board with the way shoppers are shopping now.” 

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Shelby Hautala
Shelby Hautala
Shelby Hautala is a Retail Insider journalist currently based out of Toronto. She has experience writing for local newspapers and also internationally for Helsinki Times while she lived in Finland. Shelby holds a Bachelor of Journalism Honours degree from the University of King’s College and a Social Work degree from Dalhousie University in Halifax.

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