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Goodwill success story – Colorful TV ads draw attention

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Colorful television ads, buyers’ clubs and bright, large stores have made the Portland, Ore.-area Goodwill system the most successful in the nation, the Associated Press reported July 2.

Goodwill Industries of the Columbia Willamette competes not just with other thrift stores, but also with retailers like Target or the Gap. The chain’s television ads look like those of their competitors: colorful, musical and whimsical.

The ads are just a small part of what sets the Portland stores apart from Goodwills in other areas of the country, however.

Club Goodwill gives discounts to loyal shoppers on their birthdays and other times of the year. A supercenter store has a drive-through donation lane and a café. Perhaps most importantly, the stores are large, clean and meticulously organized, from clothes divided by color to books alphabetically arranged in topics as specific as “mystery”, “spy/intrigue”, and “true crime.”

Retail sales at the 24 stores jumped from $25 million in 1996 to a projected $42 million in 2000 – the highest revenues for any system of Goodwill stores in the nation. Average sales per square foot were $166 in 1999, almost $100 above the national average.

Other systems hope to mimic the Portland stores’ success. About half of the 182 Goodwill systems in the U.S. are clients of the Portland system’s marketing department, marketing director Titus Herman told AP. Some buy existing posters and signs, while others have commissioned the department to create television and print ads.

Michael Miller, president and chief executive officer of the Portland system, is credited by most Goodwill employees with the system’s success. He says some have worried the ads are too slick or the buildings too nice.

“But I think anyone judging us by results we’ve achieved quickly gets past those concerns when they see the level of benefits we bring to the community,” he said.

For full text, see the Los Angeles Times.

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