CHARLOTTE – Tired of digging through bins and rifling through racks to find nice clothes that won’t break the bank? If you’re into thrifting, but not the sifting, then Goodwill’s new boutique GW in South End is right up your alley.
Located at 3609 South Blvd., GW offers affordable designer and brand name women’s and men’s apparel, jewelry, shoes, accessories and home décor stylized especially for trendy shoppers. It’s modeled after the GW store at the Goodwill Opportunity Campus off Wilkinson Boulevard, but is much, much larger.
At 7,000 square feet, it’s is more than double the size of the original location and offers an expanded men’s section, as well as furniture and active wear. There’s also a grab-and-go food area served by Community Table Bistro, where customers can buy cold drinks, Vietnamese coffee, salads, sandwiches, frozen dinners and desserts.
Community Table Bistro is a culinary training division of Goodwill Industries of the Southern Piedmont that was first launched at the Opportunity Campus in 2016. It provides hands-on job training for Goodwill clients, while offering healthy, homemade food and drinks to campus visitors.
Barbara Maida-Stolle, Goodwill’s chief business officer, said the GW boutique did so well at the Opportunity Campus that officials decided to expand the brand to reach even more customers. They chose South End based on the close proximity to the LYNX Blue Line, the young and hip demographic and the increase in new apartments, shopping, breweries and restaurants in the area.
Aside from trendier clothing, the biggest difference between GW and Goodwill is how the stores are set up. GW’s design and layout looks more like a specialty store with color blocking, style stories and pairings, and a variety of home décor items.
“You could find the same brands at our typical Goodwill stores, you just have to shop a little harder,” Maida-Stolle said. “GW is presented in a much more neater and cleaner way.”
Lori Terrell, of east Charlotte, said she enjoys thrifting, but has to be in the right mood to really dig. She much prefers the way GW is set up, plus the new South End store is in a more convenient location.
“A lot of people are turned off by thrift stores,” she said. “When you walk into this, it feels more like a boutique and less like a thrift store.”
GW fits within Terrell’s budget and she finds brands and unique styles she otherwise couldn’t afford. She also likes to support the organization and the work it does in the community. Sales from Goodwill and GW stores fund employment training, job placement services, financial education, youth mentoring and more.
“People don’t think about that when they’re shopping, but it’s a ripple effect,” Terrell said.
The Opportunity Campus is a little out of the way for Mimi Vollum, who lives in south Charlotte, so she was thrilled to hear GW had opened in South End
“Everything is all spaced out and not too cramped,” she said. “I like the regular Goodwill stores too because I don’t mind hunting, but this looks very spacious and inviting. Plus, they have more than just clothes.”
Maida-Stolle hopes GW attracts new, younger customers and introduces current Goodwill customers to a different shopping experience. She said the nonprofit is already planning to open more GWs in the Charlotte area, but will not be rebranding any current Goodwill stores to fit the GW style.
“The shoppers at our larger footprint stores are different than the shoppers at GW,” she said. “I think both brands are strong enough to stand on their own.”