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Goodwill moves thrift store experience online

Goodwill has expanded its thrift store experience online with the new website GoodwillFinds. File photo by Ken Wolter/Shutterstock
Goodwill has expanded its thrift store experience online with the new website GoodwillFinds. File photo by Ken Wolter/Shutterstock

Oct. 4 (UPI) -- Goodwill thrifters can now shop online from home, as the 120-year-old nonprofit moves its brick-and-mortar thrift store experience to the website Goodwill Finds.

GoodwillFinds launched Tuesday with about 100,000 items available with more to be added, according to the nonprofit.

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Goodwill Industries International Inc. will continue to operate its 3,300 stores in the United States and Canada, as it adds online sales. In the past, individual stores have used online via third party websites, such as eBay and Amazon, to sell donations.

The move comes amid soaring inflation that is expected to grow the second-hand clothing business as shoppers look for better deals. According to a report by research firm GlobalData for Thredup, the second-hand clothing business is forecast to increase 16 times faster than the broader retail clothing sector by 2026.

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"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," said Matthew Kaness, chief executive officer of Goodwill Finds.

Thift shoppers can use search tools on the website to browse by categories that include clothing, jewelry, electronics, home goods, books and media, as well as toys and hobbies. Customers can also target specific brands. With continued use, the site will personalize recommendations based on a shopper's past purchases. Shipping options and fees will vary with each item and shipping address.

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While donations cannot be made on the site, customers can still visit their local Goodwill store to drop items off. Goodwill expects to eventually offer that service, which is already provided by rivals Thredup and Poshmark. Donations are sorted at each store with some items designated for sale online.

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"Goodwill is a very big part of the second-hand market, but it's been focused on stores. That is its heritage," said Neil Saunders, managing director at GlobalData Retail. "Online has been an afterthought and done very informally within the regions."

Goodwill's online expansion is expected to help fund its community-based programs across the United States that provide professional training, job placement and youth membership, according to the nonprofit.

Within a few years, GoodwillFinds hopes to have 1 million items, as the nonprofit expects the site to expand its customer base and grow donations, according to Kaness.

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"Watching the rise of these second-hand marketplaces and the success they've been having with customers moving online has served as a major impetus," Kaness said. "I feel this is a revolution that's happening in retail right now where second-hand has finally crossed over and is seen as a force for good and not just a good deal -- and we're the sleeping giant that has woken up and is taking our rightful place."

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