Goodwill, Savers Thrift Stores Find New Venues

by Robert Bell  on Monday, Aug. 9, 2010 12:00 am  

Brian Itzkowitz, president and CEO of Goodwill Industries of Arkansas, said the current retail climate has made large spaces more affordable for the nonprofit.

Nonprofit Partner

The first Savers in Arkansas opened in 1998 on Cantrell Road in Little Rock and is now located on JFK Boulevard in North Little Rock. The company employs about 145 people at its three stores in the state and about 13,000 at its more than 240 stores in the United States and Canada.

Savers' total revenue from 2005 to 2009 was nearly $3 billion. Between December 2005 and the end of this year, the company will have opened 58 stores, and plans to open 50 to 100 more during the next five-year period, Sara Gaugl, a Savers spokeswoman, said in an e-mail.

"Arkansas is a strong Savers market, and we've found that our value proposition really resonates with people here," Gaugl wrote.

She said the company didn't have any specific information about whether it plans to open any more locations in the state.

But the company is "reviewing all the markets that remain," said Cree, Savers' real estate director. "We haven't made a decision on any of them, and they're all under consideration, whether it be Fayetteville, Bentonville, Rogers, Texarkana. There's still a number of markets in the state that are worthy of consideration."

Thrift store shopping has entered the mainstream as more and more customers have become accustomed to buying second-hand merchandise from a wide variety of sources, including eBay and Craigslist, and is no longer considered a resource solely for lower-income individuals, Gaugl wrote.

"Some may be surprised to learn that a significant percentage of our shoppers are well-educated bargain hunters, with household incomes between $40,000 and $70,000," she wrote.

Though the privately held chain is a for-profit operation, local charities collect merchandise for Savers to sell. The company then pays the donor charities for every item it sells, including those dropped off at Savers stores.

In Arkansas, the company has partnerships with two Big Brothers Big Sisters chapters and with the Arc Arkansas, which provides various support services to people with disabilities and their families.

The west Little Rock Savers partners with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Arkansas.

"It's been a great relationship so far," said Christel Cater, vice president of marketing and recruiting for Big Brothers Big Sisters.



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