Goodwill Industries International is stepping up its e-commerce game. The 120-year-old non-profit is launching GoodwillFinds to sell online some of the gems from the more than 3,200 stores it operates across North America.
"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," newly appointed GoodwillFinds CEO Matthew Kaness said in a statement.
Previously, Goodwill stores donated items at their locations and online through websites like Amazon and eBay, according to the Associated Press. But the new venture will help centralize that e-commerce, as well as funding the local workforce professional training, job placement, and youth mentorship the organization is known for.
"I’m confident that this venture will accelerate Goodwill’s mission of transforming lives through the dignity of work, raise awareness of the immense sustainability impact of thrifting at Goodwill, and increase net donations to each Goodwill region. Good for the consumer, good for local communities, good for society and the planet," Kaness added in the statement.
"Hundreds of thousands" of clothing items, books, home decor, and more were already available online as of the marketplace’s Tuesday launch, according to the company’s statement. Proceeds for items will return to the regions from where they were sourced. Still, customers will not be able to donate online but will have to instead stop in at brick and mortar Goodwill locations.
Goodwill’s pivot comes at a time when interest in thrifting is surging thanks to Gen Z and Millennials and the rise of online marketplaces like ThredUp, Poshmark, and Depop. According to ThredUp’s 2022 Resale Report, the global secondhand apparel market is expected to be worth $119 billion in 2022 and to surge to almost $218 billion by 2026. The U.S. alone leads the world in secondhand resale growth, and the market is expected to more than double by 2026 to $82 billion.
Technology is driving the trend. Some 70 percent of consumers report it’s easier to shop secondhand than it was five years ago, according to the report. And who is doing all the shopping? More than 60 percent of Gen Z and Millennials said that they are looking for an item secondhand before they buy it new.
But the model isn’t perfect. The popularity of thrifting can reduce options available to individuals with no other choice but to shop at thrift stores, according to the Berkeley Economic Review, and even push prices there higher. And thrifting can create an artificial absolution over guilt from over-consumption. In reality, only about 10 to 20 percent of donated clothing even winds up in thrift stores, meaning the rest is recycled, shipped abroad or ends up in landfills, Popular Science reported.
Even so, with the rise of fast fashion, the benefits of buying used -- if you must buy at all — can’t be overstated. According to the World Bank, the fashion industry is responsible for roughly 10 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions, which is more than all international flights and marine shipping combined.