Goodwill Stores: Advocating for a New Policy


Volunteer organizations are significant because there are many homeless and economically disadvantaged individuals in every society. That is why the government, businesses, and engaged individuals take specific actions to provide this population with the required assistance. The modern world offers many options in this domain, and Goodwill stores are among them. These establishments serve many financially disadvantaged individuals, but the current paper will present experience from a specific store to explain that a new policy is necessary to meet this population’s needs.

Service-Learning Volunteer Experience

Volunteering at a local Goodwill store is a suitable option to identify whether the socially vulnerable population’s requirements are satisfied. To begin with, one should explain that such organizations are highly evaluated by the homeless and the poor. The possibility of buying objects at lower prices attracts these people, making them typical visitors to Goodwill stores. These establishments are also useful since reduced prices do not imply low-quality objects. That is why it is possible to buy decent clothes and other items in suitable conditions without a significant financial burden. However, this fact denotes that Goodwill stores are also attended by people who are not economically disadvantaged. They come to these locations to purchase high-quality products at low prices.

The observation above determines how a Goodwill store deals with its products. All clothes experience a short cycle within the store, and it lasts approximately over one week. Following this period, all the clothes are moved to a more extensive department where they are sold at lower prices. This situation leads to the fact that initial prices can be high for some financially disadvantaged individuals. On the contrary, those people who attend such stores to find beneficial offers, and not because the need required, receive a positive experience.

According to the information above, it is possible to mention that the Goodwill stores imply both advantages and disadvantages, and the given paragraph will comment on positive facts. The most beneficial point refers to the fact that socially vulnerable populations obtain an opportunity to meet their basic needs. This phenomenon is significant because many Americans suffer from financial problems. In particular, it was estimated that 17% of the American population could be considered financially vulnerable, which accounted for 43 million people (Brockland et al. 2019). These data were valid for 2019, meaning that the COVID-19 pandemic and appropriate preventive measures aggravated the situation. Consequently, these statistical data demonstrate that the problem under consideration is significant sociologically. That is why it is reasonable to invest in the development of Goodwill and other thrift stores under such social and economic conditions.

Simultaneously, the system under analysis also has some drawbacks that are worth attention. Firstly, it refers to a specific period during which clothes are rotated throughout the Goodwill store. This fact denotes that individuals have one week to identify an item and find resources to purchase it. It can be a severe challenge for low-income and homeless people who do not have any savings. Secondly, another issue relates to the fact that the clothes’ initial prices are high for the target population. Consequently, these people should wait for a week for the prices to decrease, while individuals of a better financial status can buy such items during this period. Thus, the combination of these two facts results in the fact that socially and financially vulnerable populations have limited access to the required items.

The information above demonstrates that Goodwill stores use program that can be improved. On the one hand, it is necessary to ensure that people in need have sufficient access to affordable clothes and other living essentials. This claim refers to the fact that such people should not have physical or financial limits to purchase the required items. On the other hand, it is useful to address the issue that initial prices are relatively high for the homeless and other underprivileged individuals. That is why the following section will present specific policy recommendations on how to achieve the improvements above.

Policy Recommendations

In the beginning, it is necessary to explain that the proposed policy tries to adjust the existing model that is used by Goodwill stores at the federal level. The first essential step is to make such establishments lower prices for their items as soon as they appear. It refers to the fact that the store should not use high prices for the items during the first week. This scenario will result in the fact that the organization under analysis will meet the targeted population’s needs more efficiently. In addition to that, one should mention that a reasonable option is to impose restrictions as to who may visit these establishments and purchase cheap clothes and other thrift items. It is necessary to present statistical data to justify the claims above, and the following paragraph will cover a few indicators.

Firstly, it is necessary to comment on Goodwill store prices, and they typically range between $0.49 to $9.99 per item. The prices are not high, but financially vulnerable populations can face significant challenges because of them. Secondly, one should explain how much money poor people have. According to Rector and Hall (2020), a four-member family is considered poor if its money income is below $25,926 per year. In this situation, it is not a surprise that such individuals draw significant attention to every dollar that they are going to spend.

Thirdly, it is reasonable to find specific evidence to determine who are customers of such shops. Gaille (2019) investigates this issue and states that every fifth American visits thrift stores at least once a year, while 30% of women frequently shop at secondhand stores. Simultaneously, it has already been mentioned that 17% of the American population could be considered financially vulnerable (Brockland et al. 2019). The comparison of these statistical values demonstrates that Goodwill stores are also attended by people who do not experience financial problems. The information above has described that such individuals visit thrift stores to find beneficial offers and save their money. This state of affairs contributes to the fact that the stores can keep prices relatively high during the first week. That is why it is necessary to ensure that Goodwill stores are only attended by those individuals who are in need. It is possible to provide people in need with specific permits that will show that these individuals are eligible to visit a thrift store.

Since the Goodwill store is a nonprofit organization, the scenario above is used to generate financial resources to develop and enable its further activity. Thus, Goodwill stores earned $5.9 billion in sales in 2017 (Gaille 2019). This figure was achieved because relatively wealthy people came to the stores and bought high-quality products at excessive prices. The recommended policy is going to reduce the organization’s earning, meaning that it is necessary to comment on alternative sources of funding.

On the one hand, it is reasonable to remember that nonprofit organizations can have multiple funding sources. According to Ibrisevic (2020), they are grants, membership fees, corporate sponsorships, and others. In addition to that, individual and business donations can bring a significant volume of financial resources to an organization (Ibrisevic 2020). It means that the Goodwill stores have an opportunity to diversify their funding sources. However, this process requires essential efforts to achieve successful results. It relates to the fact that the organization should run a comprehensive marketing program that will encourage individuals and businesses to support the Goodwill stores. Furthermore, government assistance is also required since it is a federal-level program. In this case, the government can offer some tax deductions to those individuals and businesses that make particular donations to the organization.

On the other hand, it is useful to change the way how the Goodwill store industry operates. According to Gaille (2019), there were more than 3,000 Goodwill locations across the country in 2017. This high number means that the organization requires significant financial resources to cover all the operating costs. It is so because rents, employees’ fees, and other expenses result in the fact that the business entity should ensure that its earnings are sufficient. That is why it is necessary to offer a solution to this case. A possible option is to use mobile stores that will serve particular communities. In this case, a Goodwill location will announce its appearance in a specific community and clarify how long it will be open for financially vulnerable people. This strategy will also be useful for low-income individuals since they will know a fixed date to save money to buy clothes and other required items.

One should also suppose that the proposed policy will meet both positive and negative attitudes. On the one hand, the homeless and low-income individuals will significantly benefit from the intervention under analysis. It is so because they will be given sufficient access to purchase essentials at reasonable prices. This state of affairs will mean that financially disadvantaged individuals will have an opportunity to mitigate their economic status drawbacks. On the other hand, the policy will witness criticism by those people who used Goodwill and similar thrift stores to save money. It is necessary to mention that this adverse response is inevitable, but one should not draw much attention to it since the organization under analysis was established to serve the underprivileged population’s needs.


Goodwill stores are significant for society because they allow low-income individuals to buy clothes and other required items at lower prices. However, a closer analysis of the organization reveals that inefficiency is involved. Relatively high prices mean that the target population cannot afford the objects, while more wealthy individuals purchase cheap items. That is why the proposed activity is to impose restrictions to ensure that financially disadvantaged people only shop in these stores and reduce prices. That is why the policy offers Goodwill stores to invest more efforts in marketing activities to attract individual and business donations and change its structure to use mobile stores.

Works Cited

Brockland, Beth, Thea Garon, Andrew Dunn, Eric Wilson, and Necati Celik. 2019. “U.S. Financial Health Pulse 2019 Trends Report.” Financial Health Network. Web.

Gaille, Brandon. 2019. “32 Thrift Store Industry Statistics and Trends.” Brandon Gaille Small Business & Marketing Advice. Web.

Ibrisevic, Ilma. 2020. “Top Funding Sources for Nonprofits and Charities.” Donorbox Nonprofit Blog. Web.

Rector, Robert, and Jamie B. Hall. 2020. “How Poor, Really, Are America’s Poor?” The Heritage Foundation. Web.

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DemoEssays. "Goodwill Stores: Advocating for a New Policy." February 16, 2022.