Monday, December 8, 2008
To prevent items from ending up in the landfill, Goodwill tries to resell or reuse as much of their donations as possible. After speaking with the regional transportation manager, we formed a diagram of the Goodwill flow chart to show how a donation travels through the system. Recycling can be seen at every step throughout the process of the donation’s flow. More formal evidence of their recycling initiatives can be seen in the various programs devised to promote recycling. Some of these programs include the Weigh Good drive, an annual donations drive that asks the community to donate items that would otherwise be thrown away from spring cleaning, and the Reconnect program, a partnership with Goodwill, Dell, and the City of Austin to reduce electronic waste from going to the landfill.
Recycling is already well integrated within the Goodwill system both in their normal operations and specific recycling programs, but there is currently a lack of in-store attention to their dedication to sustainability. Hence, one of their main goals is not being fully catered to and one of their main sources of revenue is not being used to its full potential. Also, despite their efforts to prevent items from going to the landfill, twenty percent of donations still end up going to the dump. Not only is this environmentally unfriendly, but it is also costly. Goodwill actually loses money by paying to take unsold goods to the landfill.
To reduce the amount of waste that ends up at the landfill while only using or reusing resources and assets that Goodwill already has, we propose to enhance Goodwill’s image as a source of sustainable creativity.
The current situation of Goodwill can be examined in three ways: the retail store, shoppers’ perceptions, and online presence.
Goodwill retail stores are generally places of organized chaos. To reduce labor costs, clothing, which comprises the majority of donations, is separated by style and color, but not by size (although there are some exceptions, such as the Goodwill location on North Lamar, which has the resources to be sorted by size as well). Despite this mishmash appearance of items, large signs still delineate the general wayfinding necessary for shoppers: Women, Men, Children, Shoes, Books, Housewares, Furniture, and etc. Besides this basic system, each store varies its exact layout according to the wishes of its store manager. Some details worth noting are the ends of the clothing racks, where pre-matched outfits seem arbitrarily placed with a hope to be sold. The sides of the Housewares shelves showcase special items varying from antique looking candlesticks to seasonal items. Spaces in the store such as these stick out because of their ability to draw attention, and yet in Goodwill stores, seem to be poorly utilized as a tool for promotion.
Interviews conducted by our interview research group yielded consumer insights both expected and unexpected. Some questions that were asked were “What was your initial expectation of Goodwill? How has that been or not been fulfilled?”, “If you could tell people one thing about Goodwill, what would it be?”, and “What would you change about Goodwill?”. While most responses seem to point at Goodwill selling “a bunch of junkie stuff, old crap”, a large majority surprisingly mentioned their attraction to Goodwill as a place to go to find parts to make a new whole. “You can put together your own outfits or decorate your apartment and make it unique”, says one woman, while another vouches that “you can find a lot of good deals—it’s like a treasure hunt. People act as a community here.” From these and other quotes by interviewees, we caught on to the fact that there is a group of loyal Goodwill shoppers, and they all have a similar Do-It-Yourself mindset.
This DIY attitude leads to the final aspect of Goodwill’s current condition, which is their online presence. With the being “green” movement becoming ever more popular, the idea of reusing and reconstructing trash to make treasure has sprouted up in DIY websites, blogs, and various print materials. Upon browsing through several well-known websites such as make:blog, instructables.com, and thriftstorelove.com, we found that several if not all of them suggest thrift stores as the source of materials for their projects, and a good number of them even directly mention Goodwill. Bloggers that are also thrift store enthusiasts also share creative ideas for DIY projects while mentioning Goodwill as the place of preference to find good items to reuse.
This free advertising and promotion for Goodwill by these hip DIY resources represents an ideal opportunity for Goodwill to capitalize on. A significant number of shoppers there already consist of Do-It-Yourselfers, hip youngsters, and crafty women. This loyal audience is different from the customers that only come in October to look for their new Halloween costume; rather, these are the shoppers that come on a regular basis to rummage around for materials for DIY projects, and these people love to share and exchange their ideas.
Our proposal presents a way to utilize the resources that Goodwill already has to tap into an existing market that hasn’t yet been directly attended to. We plan on doing this with the MakeGood program. It brings the DIY idea in-store at the point of purchase for the customer. The logo refers to the retro vintage look that is reminiscent of many DIY projects. We wanted to keep with the blue and white Goodwill logo and colors that the marketing manager of Goodwill Instrustries of Central Texas mentioned to be the set future logo. DIY projects will be displayed around the store according to what materials went into the project. Posters with the same retro look are interchangeable and modular; they will be hung where there are samples of finished projects. On each poster is a tear-off pad with instructions on how to make the project. Instruction sheets are designed to be pictures only with minimum text to make them user-friendly and easy to understand. Both the poster and the take-away instruction sheet will have an invitation to the makeGoodwill.com website. These in-store displays would mainly be stationed at those ends of clothing racks and housewares shelves that are currently being used inefficiently.
Our website component, makegoodwill.com, incorporates the necessary online aspect of the DIY culture with a blog, forum, and archive of all the projects that will be shown in-store. Instructions for each project can be submitted, and members of the makeGood community can also contribute their own ideas to the site as well. The blue and white retro theme is consistent throughout the website to tie it back to the in-store displays. The website can also provide opportunities to advertise and promote Goodwill’s mission statement and retail stores.
As with any proposal, there must be some considerations. Because each store is specific to the design of its store manager, the equipment and space will vary from store to store. When putting up the displays, each one must be installed on a case-by-case basis to fit accordingly with the store. Project turnover time should be enough to keep customers interested, but not too long to make customers bored. Approximately three weeks should be about right for a project to remain in-store, so that they can rotate along with the turnover time of the donations from store to outlet. Project designers would initially be the MakeGood team, but ideally the community would be the ones to eventually generate the new projects. They would first post ideas online, then certain projects would be chosen to be featured in-store. To manage the website, a webmaster must be designated, but makeGoodwill.com is designed to be community-driven, and would require low maintenance. Finally, production costs for the MakeGood program would be minimal, since there are in-house at the Goodwill headquarters that can print the posters, instruction pads are cheap to print, and the projects would be made out of Goodwill’s own items.
MakeGood is designed to be easily expandable in many ways. It could bring a more prevalent image to the Goodwill image at future MakerFaire events. As an event that celebrates the arts, engineering, and science, DIY projects play a big role in the festivities and could be a great place to promote MakeGood. Currently most if not all signage in Goodwill retail and outlet stores are bilingual. To cater to the Spanish-speaking audience, MakeGood posters can easily be converted to Spanish. Video How-Tos are popular on many DIY websites as another way to show the making process; this could be further embedded on the makegoodwill.com website as well. Finally, workshops to demonstrate how to make DIY projects can be featured in-store to bring in an even larger audience. These workshops could then work with the volunteer programs that Goodwill already has in place.
Thus, in recalling the goal of Goodwill to not only help foster job programs for individuals but also to promote sustainability, we looked at the current situation of Goodwill Industries of Central Texas. In the layouts of the retail stores, perceptions in shoppers’ minds, and online presence, we drew out the Do-It-Yourself subculture in which Goodwill already plays a large role to formulate the MakeGood Program. Not only would this attract the loyal shoppers that already go there to find materials for sustainable projects, but the in-store displays would also speak to the shoppers who might never have considered making their own projects until they have seen the displays of sample finished projects. Essentially, we hope to enhance Goodwill’s image as a source of sustainable creativity.
These visual differences were most evident during the research phase of the project. Blue Hangers at both locations lacked the order of normal stores because all the goods were placed onto tables. Clothes on one side and “hard-line” items (furniture, house ware, and the like) on the other side served as the categories of things one could purchase at Blue Hanger. Goodwill stores have more than just two ways of sorting their merchandise. The stores have subcategories like “Men’s Jeans” and “Children’s Clothes.” There are signs, colorful and bright, that mark each area within the store, making it feel like a real shopping spot. The signs at the outlets were big and blue, containing all of the prices on one board, and the space at the Blue Hangers are more open with high ceilings, and since everything is set on tables, it’s easy to see across the place.
At Goodwill stores, there are a mixture of clothing racks and display shelves that sometimes disrupt a person’s line of vision. The Goodwill stores also had consistent branding among themselves that showed they were all part of the same organization; at the Blue Hangers, there were no ad campaigns such as “Brand U” and the “Hall of Fame” to tie the outlets back into the main brand. Even retail stores such as Gap and Bebe have consistent branding between its mall stores and its outlet stores. Blue Hanger at McNeil may have had an actual logo associated with the Goodwills, but Blue Hanger on Springdale did not, creating more conflicts between visual information and branding.
The interview section of the research phase also revealed a difference in shoppers’ demographics between Goodwill and Blue Hanger. Goodwill stores had people of various age groups and economic standings that shopped there. People came to shop for themselves, looking for great deals. They also came because they knew of Goodwill’s mission to help people with barriers attain jobs and wanted to support their community. Many consumers who shop at Blue Hanger came to buy things in bulk to resell online or elsewhere; the other major demographic were lower-income families. One notable age group absence from Blue Hanger were adolescents and young adults.
The systems analysis, the third research portion, gave some insight to why there were so many differences between Goodwill stores and the Blue Hangers. In a nutshell, donated goods were either sent to Goodwill stores to be sold at higher prices or sent to Blue Hanger to be sold at lower prices. If the items could not be sold at the normal stores, they too were sent to the Blue Hanger to be rid of. Ultimately, the donations that end up at Blue Hanger are either trashed or sold in bulk to buyers for cents at a pound. That is why the outlet sells things for a fraction of the price of normal Goodwill stores, a fact that Suzanna Burmeister, marketing director for Goodwill Industries of Central Texas, noted. She went on to mention that the lower prices at Blue Hanger stirs competition which may be why Blue Hanger is under advertised and not well known to young shoppers.
This set of information introduces several problems. Blue Hanger has a weak visual connection to Goodwill which includes the branding. The merchandise doesn’t always get sold when it ends up at Blue Hanger – a kind of last chance – but if new shoppers were introduced to the brand, there would be less things sent to the landfill (according to research done by the systems analysis team, about 20% of donated goods eventually end up as waste). Another issue is that Blue Hanger has a fantastic space that is not being utilized to promote itself. Rather than spending money on other costly venues like hotels, the Blue Hanger space can be transformed into a place to host events. This saves Goodwill money and promotes Blue Hanger at the same time, educating the public about its locations.
So what my group thought would solve the issues we identified best was to host a dance pre-party for people to attend before going out to down town. The party idea has the potential to attract a younger demographic and introduce them to Blue Hanger as a shopping option. This would also provide the opportunity for Goodwill to educate younger shoppers about its mission through advertisements leading up to the event, creating a stronger connection between itself and the outlets. Hosting the party at the Blue Hanger also makes use of the space that Goodwill already owns; the tables at McNeil are on wheels and be easily manipulated to form different formations to alter the layout. This could also be done at Springdale with a little bit more manual labor effort.
The event itself was not the only vehicle to market Blue Hanger. At the dance party, people could buy clothes from Blue Hanger to add to their existing outfits to go to down town later. The party idea did have some obstacles, though. One issue was how people would come and go from Blue Hanger to down town. Another “problem” was how something could be called a party without alcohol, especially when it comes to the college demographic that the party was supposed to target.
Another way of promoting Blue Hanger had to be considered. The idea to use actual blue hangers as advertising came; hangers would be hung en masse on car door handles, at bus stops, street signs, and anywhere with anything that a hanger could be hooked to. The paper wrapping around the hanger had printed messages such as “Have you seen my pants?” or “Have you seen my jacket?” to attract people and come take a closer look at the hangers. On the reverse side was the answer to the questions, “Find it at the Blue Hanger.” The address and Goodwill’s website for more information were also included on the answer side. Rather than focus on designing posters, the guerilla style of advertising felt more suitable for targeting teens and young adults who may feel unaffected by ordinary advertising means.
This proposal left out the aspect of transforming the Blue Hanger space and utilizing it in a fun and creative way. Rather than nixing both ideas, a combination of the two seemed plausible with more tweaks to the events idea. The focus would remain on manipulating the Blue Hanger space using the events and blue hanger advertising as tools to educate new shoppers about the outlet.
The dance party turned into a bash of sorts, including do-it-yourself workshops to modify clothes, a fashion show to showcase the workshop results, and live bands and DJ’s to provide music and entertainment for the day. These ideas appealed to students interviewed from McNeil High School and the University of Texas. Many of the students knew about Goodwill but not about Blue Hanger; some who knew about Goodwill associated it to an older image. The live music and craft events break away from the older image associated with Goodwill and allows for a fun alternative to typical parties.
A big event with all three parts is an ideal way for Goodwill to attract a lot of younger shoppers, bringing them in to the space so that they may buy goods and alleviate the problem of many things being trashed or sold at an even more reduced price. As an added bonus, there could be an admission fee that can be reduced if people bring donations with them. These donations and the admission fee means higher, potential gains for Goodwill’s finances.
The space transforms when tables are moved around to form work stations, stages, and a runway. Blue Hanger undergoes another kind of change when people come to it for reasons other than shopping – to come for creative purposes. Still, Goodwill has the option of splitting the events up for smaller activities that may be more manageable.
The workshops use Blue Hanger’s resources, putting them to good use so they don’t end up being thrown away or sold at low prices. Participants can modify clothes or make other objects with the guidance of volunteer designers and crafters who are willing to donate time to Goodwill’s cause.
Held separately or in conjunction with the clothing modification workshops, a fashion show can take place to showcase either the workshop results or fashions found at the Blue Hanger.
A battle of the bands event works well on its own, highlighting Austin’s culture and influence on live music. In a combined event setting, music played by bands serve as the backdrop to a whole day’s event and as music for the fashion show.
The modularity of these events reflect the way the space in the outlet locations can be easily mutated with new formations of tables that symbolize an activity experience instead of a consumerism experience. Using blue hangers with messages to promote a new Blue Hanger also fits into this theme of flexibility within the space and the events themselves. The hangers can go nearly anywhere and promote either the events or just Blue Hanger itself.
These proposals benefit both Blue Hanger and Goodwill in the long run. Blue Hanger benefits from selling more goods to reduce waste; ultimately, Goodwill gains money out of this, more than what they would have from selling bales at cents per pounds. Educating a younger demographic also holds the possibility of these new shoppers becoming more connected to their community and be willing to help people find jobs by shopping at Goodwill. And if the events become successful, Goodwill can also use the Blue Hanger spaces for annual bashes and other fund-raising galas to promote itself. They can save money by doing this instead of paying fancy hotels for space that they already possess.
Goodwill and Blue Hanger utilize their own resources and untapped resources (younger shoppers, creative events) to help bring donations and funding in to reach their mission goals.
We began our research by interviewing employees, managers, customers, and non-Goodwill shoppers. In these interviews, we asked them a list of set questions. For example one of the questions was, “Are you familiar with Goodwill’s mission statement?” Goodwill’s mission is to “enhance the dignity and quality of life by eliminating barriers to opportunity and helping people in need reach their fullest potential though the power of work”. It became apparent that the people who were unaware or had less of an understanding of this mission were young adults and teenagers. Many of the people interviewed were also unaware that unlike Salvation Army and other charity thrift stores, Goodwill’s money and job opportunities stay local and within the Austin community rather than working on a national level. We believed this to be an attractive quality of Goodwill and believed that if the community were aware they too would agree. We took note of these two issues, knowing we wanted to address both of them in our proposal.
Next we did a visual analysis of Goodwill, this consisted of looking at the exterior and interior store layouts, signage, color, and advertisements. Many of the Goodwill signs and advertisements were very informative, but were visually cluttered and verbose in content. This discourages viewers from reading and attaining the information. Also, the signs and advertisements had no consistent branding or reoccurring elements such as typeface, color, and/or imagery. However, we did like the use of vibrant colors used in the Goodwill’s store signage. We hoped to extend these vibrant, exciting colors in our designs used for our proposal.
With help from Kevin McCown and Joel King, the transportation manager and assistant manager, we created a flow chart that gives a visual understanding of Goodwill’s circulation system. There are three types of donations- individual donations, commercial donations, and events donations. The items are then taken to the store where they are sorted and are either priced and placed in store to be sold, salvaged (immediately given to the outlet), recycled, or in the worst case thrown away. The items put in store are then sold or auctioned and after three weeks if they have not been purchased they are sent to the outlet (known as Blue Hanger). Once items reach the outlets, they are either sold or auctioned. From there hard-line items (such as lamps, stereos, shoes, etc) are placed in gaylords and sold. Clothes are compacted into bales where they are sold to bulk-buyers by the ton. It was vital for us to have a good understanding of this system in order to figure out how and where our proposal would adjust the circulation.
Also after speaking with Kevin and Joel, we discovered that originally Goodwill had purchased several trucks to complete delivery routes. Since then, Goodwill has designed a more efficient route, leaving seven box trucks unused and taking up space in the parking lot of the Blue Hanger Outlet Store in Springdale. Presently, these box trucks are wasted resources.
We took the main issues from all of research and analyses and have created “Goodwheels”. Goodwheels is a mobile Goodwill that travels to local Austin events, both large and small. Goodwheels objective is to “efficiently utilize Goodwill’s resources in order to strengthen community presence and mission awareness”. Events we have considered for Goodwheels to be present are Austin City Limits, First Thursdays on Congress, Fun Fun Fun Fest, and Youth sports fields. Austin City Limits is an annual local music festival held at Zilker Park, this would be a chance for Goodwheels to become a linked part of Austin, the music capital of world. First Thursdays on Congress is an event held every first Thursday of each month where several vendors line the streets of Congress Ave. and act as hosts to an array of events and activities. In participating in an event such as First Thursdays, it would allow the public to anticipate Goodwheels consistent presence at the event and perhaps encourage them to collect and bring donations once a month. The theory behind Fun Fun Fun Fest is to create a fall festival that supports emerging artists, creativity, LOCAL BUSINESS, and bands. This would be another chance for Goodwill to begin to be viewed more as a local vendor. Goodwheel’s regular presence at Youth Sports Fields would create a strong community bond and allow families to contribute to the mission of Goodwill whether through donations or purchases. These are a plethora of events, all of which emphasize Austin’s strong, creative, and exciting community that are targeted towards educating younger generations.
We photographed, documented, and measured the unused box trucks. The cargo space of each truck measures to be 24 feet long, 8 feet in height, and 7 feet in width. The box truck holds a driver and two passengers. In redesigning the exterior, we used vibrant colors inspired by the existing Goodwill signage and made the formal design playful, dynamic, and visually engaging. We saw the exterior as an opportunity to educate and excite the public on the Goodwill mission; therefore we shortened the original mission statement into a concise tagline that reinforces Goodwheel’s purpose, “Goodwheels, delivering opportunity to your community”. The original design of the rear of the truck is another example of the visual clutter often found in Goodwill’s graphics. The new rear redesign continues the visually engaging theme from the side, while including Goodwill’s contact information in a clear way. We also plan to have the recognizable Goodwill Smiling “G” placed on the exterior of the truck, in order to allow the viewer to draw back to the familiar roots of Goodwill. In the trucks interior space, we wanted to utilize existing systems within the cargo space. Specifically, the metal tracking used to tie-down duratainers. The straps have a metal piece that securely attaches to the tracking. We propose to use this metal tracking to create a clothes display that will be modular—in that it can be placed in any truck with the tracking. This allows the display to be interchangeable in size and location. Also, by using the tracking it avoids having to drill holes into the truck walls and having to have to make the renovation permanent. The interior will also include lighting, boxes for storage, a dressing area, a mirror display (in order to expand the space), and a donation box. The color theme already seen on the outside of the truck is also maintained in the interior. Another unique feature is the Donate Your Story Board. The board is an interactive medium that unites the individual with goodwill and its community by allowing individuals the opportunity to share a story of their own or to read a story of someone else's. We also propose that this storyboard include or feature stories from people who have had Goodwill provide and help them in getting jobs and an education. This way people will feel more compelled to purchase and will know that there purchases are directly making a difference in their own community.
When the Goodwheels truck is operating at an event, the cashier counter and donation box will be positioned outside of the truck. Also, for an event with not enough space for a truck clothes racks can be set up outside of the truck. The outside of the truck will be illuminated with removable lights. These will be put in place by Goodwheels employees after the truck is parked for the event. Power will be provided by a generator. In fact, this year at Fun Fun Fun Fest several vendors ran off of solar powered generators, which would be ideal for Goodwheels. Clothes and other items to be sold in the truck will be selected by a Goodwheels employee from items already priced and on the floor of a Goodwill store. The merchandise selected can vary and be tailored to the specific event.
In order to promote the Goodwheels campaign, we have designed two simple yet unique examples of advertising to distribute within the community- door hangers and small business-like cards. Both forms depict the Goodwill logo on one side and on the other they have a calendar of the event’s Goodwheels will be located. This will allow the public to anticipate donations or even just shopping the Goodwheel low prices while enjoying a fun community event. The door hangers can be distributed to the neighborhoods near the location of which the Goodwheel’s truck next event will be located. The cards can be placed near registers at several businesses in order to make people aware, for example the several stores that participate in First Thursdays as mentioned prior. These cards could also be distributed at the ocation where tickets for the events are being sold.
Goodwheels easily fits into Goodwill’s existing circulation system. It acts as another filter. The sellable items sent to the store are selected and are attempted to sell in the Goodwheel’s truck and then after the event the merchandise will go back to the floor of the store, where they will be reentered into the existing system. The cost towards redesigning and promoting the truck would be low. The highest cost would be in employing a driver and running a generator, but in the end would be worth it in recruiting a larger amount of goodwill supporters and contributors through raising awareness. The trucks not only will serve their purpose in being a venue for selling and donating, but will also work as movable billboards all around Austin. Goodwheels would be an effective entity within the Goodwill system in boosting community presence, mission awareness (especially amongst the youth), donations, revenue, and ultimately in providing more opportunity for Goodwill to provide work for those in need.
In order to effectively contribute to the “reduce and reuse” cause, we researched existing recycle programs at Goodwill. The annual weigh good drive is a donation drive that encourages the Central Texas community to engage in an environmentally friendly effort to recycle their “trash” from spring-cleaning. Two recycling programs that focus specifically on computers and electronics are the Reconnect program and the Austin Computer Works program. Goodwill holds a partnership with Dell Inc. and the City of Austin. The Reconnect program offers customers a free computer-recycling drop off. The Austin Computer works recycling program processes 2,500 tons of computer waste annually. Every month, Goodwill processes 250 ¬tons of electronic waste with none going to the landfill. Computer parts are reused, resold, and displayed. In order to promote this recycling effort, the computer works program has an in store computer museum that displays older computers, as well as displays large statues made of recycled computer parts in the front of the store.
Even though Goodwill has available programs for recycling there is a lack of in store attention to their recycling initiatives. Despite these efforts to reduce waste, twenty percent of donated goods still end up in the landfill, therefore Goodwill losses money by paying to take unsold goods to the landfill. In our proposal we aim to enhance Goodwill’s image as a source of sustainable creativity.
In order to determine and investigate the current situation in existing Goodwill retail stores, we visited the North Lamar Location, which is one of the largest Goodwill retail centers in Central Texas. All Goodwill stores have a consistent organizational system which consists of categories including: men’s and women’s clothing organized by either size or color, house wares, electronics, books and furniture. In this particular store, we found that the clothing displays and their placement were not as successful as in regular stores because Goodwill does not sell multiples of the same articles of clothing. We found that the space at the end of the clothing racks could be better utilized. These grid wire racks and metal-shelving units with adjustable shelves are coherent organizational elements in almost every Goodwill store. When looking for areas around the store for potential implementation, we decided these spaces could be used more efficiently to further raise awareness of the recycling opportunities available.
In order to get an idea of how shoppers perceived Goodwill we conducted interviews the first week of research. Throughout the interviews we found that people mostly shop at Goodwill for costumes, props, vintage clothing, or shop for resale. Also, customers that thrift shop as a hobby prefer Goodwill. Most customers shop at Goodwill for themselves and said they would not shop there for gifts. When asked, “What was your initial expectation of Goodwill and how has that been or not been fulfilled?” Most people responded that there exists a misconception about thrift stores including Goodwill. One person responded, “I thought it was a bunch of junky stuff and old crap.” When asked, “If you could tell people one thing about Goodwill, what would it be?” One woman said, you can put together your own outfits or decorate your apartment and make it unique.” With this we start seeing a Do it Yourself initiative, where people are searching for things to decorate their homes, fix and build their own computers, and complete outfits. When asked, “what would you change about Goodwill?” One person responded, “I would change the negative stigma people have of Goodwill, and believe it is under them. It should be about the shopping experience, helping the community and environment, and having fun.” Customers said that the Goodwill mission gave them more of an incentive to shop there. Employees and shoppers believe in Goodwill’s mission and want to change the perception of Goodwill.
A Do it yourself community already exists and is most prominent online with DIY websites, blogs, and videos. Many DIY resources suggest thrift stores, and sometimes specifically Goodwill, as the place to go look for used goods and materials to use in trash-to-treasure projects. These websites also provide photos of existing Do it yourself projects with step-by-step instructions. There are a variety of projects, ranging from easy-to-make and affordable to more complex and time consuming.
In effect to our goal to promote the recycling effort and implement the DIY mindset, we propose a way to utilize inefficiently used resources and products in store to promote sustainability. We plan on promoting Goodwill as the place to go for Do it yourself enthusiasts and potential Do it your-selfers. The make good logo represents our effort to enhance Goodwill’s image by keeping the existing logo and adding a vintage script typeface that corresponds to our effort to salvage and reuse materials. The tag line reads, “Reduce waste. Reuse items. Be creative”. This speaks about our recycling effort and encourages creativity. Two effective ways to apply our goal is through in-store displays and a website. There will be 18 x 24” posters placed in the Goodwill stores, designed to remain the same with detachable instructional pads that will change over time. The instructional pads where designed to be more universal with only a minimal amount of text that could potentially be translated. The DIY projects will be easy to make and affordable. Some projects that we have come up with include, a vase lamp, a record clock, mug speaker set, and a bookcase handbag. These posters and instructions will be placed in the corresponding section depending on the materials needed for the project. The poster will have a link to the website so that people can take pictures of their make good projects and post them on the website. They can even exchange their own DIY ideas on the blog. In order to also promote the Goodwill mission, it will be printed on each of the instruction pads. Shelf space in the house wares section could be utilized by detaching one shelf so that the poster could be placed on the backboard of the shelf. The DIY project will also be on display so that it could be a visual example to stimulate ideas. The website will have information about Goodwill’s recycling initiatives as well as their mission statement. The website will also be a source for creative exchange with photos of Do it yourself projects and instructions. New projects will be featured on the popular projects page so that web users can download instructions, comment on the project, send it to a friend, or continue reading more about the project.
We are aware that there are concerns about the actual execution of our proposal. Further considerations include, configuration of store displays because of the layout discrepancies in each Goodwill store. Also in consideration is the turnover time for the DIY projects in store. Website maintenance is also a concern since there are no employee volunteers trained to do complex web work. On the contrary, there are resources available at the Goodwill headquarters, including a plotter printer for poster printing.Plans for future expansion are definitely included in our proposal. We plan on using Austin’s annual event Maker Faire to promote and exhibit Goodwill’s DIY mindset and projects. Maker Faire was created by Make Magazine to “celebrate arts, crafts, engineering, science projects and the DIY mindset.” Maker Faire includes exposition and workshop pavilions, hands-on workshops, demonstrations, and DIY competitions. Goodwill already sponsors Maker Faire and could take further initiative to make an appearance at the festival. Apart from expansion, in order to accommodate to the large demographic of Spanish speakers, we will have bilingual posters and instructions. Furthermore, in our initiatives to make these DIY instructions universal, we plan on making instructional videos that will be available on the make good website. Through existing Goodwill volunteer programs; enough support is available for ongoing DIY workshops in order to encourage the community to participate in the recycling cause. We hope this will inspire customers to reuse goods in effort to improve the environment.
From the beginning of our process we have been interested in taking existing resources to better promote Goodwill’s mission and recycling effort. This idea has carried us through our process and our appreciation for Goodwill’s mission along with our concern for helping improve its cause is clearly reflected in our proposal. Not only is our proposal joining the global green movement, but the proceeds of this DIY mindset is also contributing to Goodwill’s mission of finding jobs for individuals with barriers to employment.
Our research shows that many shoppers are unaware of Goodwill’s mission and purpose in our community. Goodwill’s mission is to sell donated items to make enough revenue to be able to maintain its own business. The organization uses the revenue to benefit its community by creating programs for individuals and families by providing job-related services for those who are unemployed. Goodwill services include adult programs and youth programs. The adult program is available to all eligible people regardless of race, gender, disability, or religion. The adult program includes a job source program that help search for jobs for those who have difficulties in their career path due to setbacks in areas such as education and housing. There are also community rehabilitation programs that offer assistance for people with disabilities seeking entry into the workforce such as application, interviewing, and job seeking training. Lastly there is an assistive technology lab that provides the community training services on specialized equipment and demonstrations on navigating the internet and other software such as Jaws, Magic, and, Deaflink. Goodwill partners with other youth service agencies such as Workforce Investment Act to help youth stay in school and prepare them for career opportunities with programs like career counseling and job readiness training exercises. A “healthy” Goodwill store is a self-sufficient one that receives enough donations to make enough revenue to support itself and to carry out Goodwill’s mission by providing the services to the community. However, some stores require trucks to physically deliver goods to them because they are not self-sufficient and need more donations to sell to make a large enough profit to stay in business and serve those who are in need. The ratio of “healthy” Goodwill stores to the stores that require constant deliveries is about half.
Many shoppers, especially teenagers, are reluctant to go to Goodwill stores due to, as one interviewee noted, the “overwhelming clutter”. After speaking to shoppers away from Goodwill we noted that they choose not to shop at Goodwill because of the time and labor involved with searching for specific items. One shopper mentioned her past experience at Goodwill and the difficulty she faced due to the clutter and the fact that the clothes are organized by color and not by size. She said “There was no way for me to find the right sized shirt without having to flip through every green shirt on the rack.” When we asked Amy Rames, marketing communications specialist at Goodwill headquarters, how the layout was determined, her response was, “The clothes are organized by color rather than size. The same goes for hard-line objects because this is the fastest way to put items onto floors with the least amount of time and manpower required to do so.” Suzanha Burmeister, Goodwill’s marketing director, said “Even if there is any spare room most managers are not willing to give up any space because they want to put out as much items onto the shelves and floors as possible.” Even though the managers are only trying to generate as much profit as possible many shoppers feel overwhelmed and are often frustrated by the lack of order and are burdened by the excessive amount of goods inside the store.
In order to increase awareness about Goodwill’s mission statement and to make shopping hassle-free we proposed an online website that will allow visitors an opportunity to learn, browse, and purchase goods without having to leave their homes. It was not our intention to rid or rebrand Goodwill’s current identity but instead to build on the existing logo by adding unique aspects that will promote the idea of shopping online. The new online logo is a modification of the current logo because we felt that it would still retain the company’s image. We removed the half smiley face image that takes place of the letter “g” in the name Goodwill underneath the larger half smiley face on top of it to make it less redundant. We replaced it with a cleaner, neater, and a simpler typeface that spells out the website’s URL, http://www.gogoodwill.com,/ instead. Below the website’s URL lies a tagline, “browse digitally, shop locally,” to emphasize the fact that the users can shop comfortably at home but at the same time are supporting their local community by purchasing goods from nearby Goodwill stores. Although, the changes between the two logos are subtle, the old logo is still recognizable while the new logo is different enough for the viewers to make the distinction between the two.
We designed a flow chart to better explain the process of how an item is sorted and sold to the online consumers. First, an item is donated by any individual to any Goodwill donation center. To better utilize Goodwill’s employees, the Goodwill online system will only require one or two employees per store to supervise and sort out the items that are worth placing on the website. It will be up to the manager’s discretion on who and how many employees would monitor the system because some stores may already have the manpower to do so while others may need to hire additional employees. Once the initial sorter, (either a Goodwill employee who already sorts items or another employee hired for the job) pulls out the more upscale items (anything that is worth more than ten dollars) he or she will have the items photographed. Once the item is photographed the sorter will have to upload the image onto the website, and then tag the item with a label and item number. After the item is properly tagged it will be placed on a hold shelf depending on where space is available per store for a week. Suzanha Burmeister mentioned that even though many of the stores in Austin are cluttered in the front there is enough space in the back, where donations are dropped off, to store the online items. If an item is not sold online within a week it will be placed inside the stores at a lower price. If a shopper wants to make a purchase then he or she will have to click on the “add to shopping bag” icon that is located below the image of the item and pay her balance. The system will then lead the shopper to a “thank you” page where the customer is informed that his or her purchase is going to a good cause (the Goodwill programs that serve the community). Afterwards, the system will remove the item on the website and alert the store manager to remove the item from the hold shelf to the sold shelf for forty-eight hours. The customer will be alerted with a message that provides the directions to the store. The customers must pick up the items themselves in order for both the shoppers and Goodwill to save on shipping and handling. This would also create another opportunity to lure the customers into the stores in order to potentially make additional sales.
In order to maximize profits and make the website as self-sufficient as possible each store manager will be emailed the instructions on how to become a part of the Goodwill online store. To avoid any confusion the guide will explain thoroughly how to activate an online store, how to take quality photographs of items, how to upload images, where to store items, what to do when items are sold, and what happens to auction items. Purchasing or bidding on auction items that are in the store bid cases will not be available online to avoid an event where someone would bid on an item online when someone else is bidding or buying the same item physically at the store at the same time. Therefore, photographs of the auction items are only online to browse through and to encourage people to go to the stores to bid or purchase them.
The concept of the website was to contrast the clutter of goodwill stores by creating a more user friendly way to present the objects to the customers. The website is inviting and easy enough so the users can visually navigate through the website on their own. The visitor will first locate his or her region by clicking on his or her city on the homepage. Once the desired region is selected, users will be greeted with the mission statement on the top of the page along with a link that leads the users to the regional homepage, where they can learn more about the services that are available. To keep the website organized, there is a list of categories on the left that groups items according to their specifications. There is also a search tool for specific needs and a faster search. Lastly, there is a RSS feed that is available to subscribed users to receive updates on new arrivals.
According to Suzanha Burmeister, Goodwill has tried to sell computers and computer parts online in the past but failed to maintain stability because of a lack of effective marketing. The previous website had issues that were never resolved such as, software issues that resulted with an unfriendly user website, insufficient amount of products, and the overall lack of awareness of the website. In order to make our website feasible we had to overcome the challenges that the previous website could not by designing a website that will enable users to easily navigate and browse through the items, provide an abundant and wide selection of various products, and most importantly to inform and encourage the public to visit the website. No matter how comfortable, effortless, and efficient the website will be to the users the website cannot last long if it isn’t able to generate enough revenue. Therefore, it is crucial to inform the public about the website and the available products in order to sell a lot of products. That is why advertising to the public is vital to the success of our proposal.
We came up with a three-point marketing strategy that is cost efficient. First, we had to target the people who already go to the stores by placing posters with website logos and URLs on windows and printing them onto shopping bags. Furthermore, we will try to promote the use of free media to promote the website as an online retailer that supports the non-profit Goodwill Industries. Such as on blogs, social networking sites, and news articles that appear online in print and on television. Also to target those who use the Internet regularly online banner ads will be advertised on high traffic websites such as the Austin Chronicle. Lastly, if Goodwill Industries feel that not enough people are aware of the site, then more money will have to be spent on traditional media such as billboards, newspapers, and television ads.
After conducting our research we realized the challenges that Goodwill Industries has to overcome in order to better carry out their mission. We believe that our online store will be a great tool to help meet these needs. Goodwill should acknowledge our proposal to strengthen their revenue and broaden their awareness in hopes of better serving the community.
Goodwill has always been where I dumped all my tired clothes after spring cleaning my room, where I bought last minute Halloween costumes and where old “stuff” was sold to people who couldn’t afford new “stuff.”
I realized how ignorant I was to Goodwill after receiving a tour of the Goodwill Headquarters of Central Texas by Suzanna Burmeister, the marketing director. I had never heard of the mission, “to enhance the quality and dignity of life for individuals, families and our community by providing job-related services for people with barriers to employment” and I had never heard of the Blue Hanger, even though I went to high school within a mile of one. After a week of extensive research with peers further educated me on the intricate system that employs the Goodwill mission, I felt equipped enough to find and assess issues that I recognized. Brandon Gamm, Meagan Greenwalt, Nicholas Nguyen and I teamed up and collaborated a proposal to use the Blue Hangers as an event space creating an identity for the Blue Hanger within the company’s system, attracting local youth to the Goodwill brand, and decreasing the amount of excess goods that are sent to landfills.
I further propose a name for the concept, The Blue Bash Program, and a focus on the Blue Hanger on McNeil Drive taking advantage of its interior, developing concentrated awareness and gaining revenue in a middle class area.
There are two Goodwill Outlet stores in Austin. The original Blue Hanger is on Springdale Road in east Austin, next to the “Blue Theater” hence the name and the newer Blue Hanger is on McNeil Road, in north Austin. Goodwill does not invest money on advertising, organization, or interior design of the Blue Hangers for fear that attention will be diverted from the main retail stores and it is evident. The result is a warehouse of waist high tables full of unorganized goods. The sparseness of interior in the space is not ideal for a comfortable shopping experience but lends itself to events such as concerts, fashion shows and “do it yourself” workshops. By taking advantage of the unique characteristics of the Blue Hanger with “Blue Bash” events, Goodwill’s image will become a part of Austin culture.
Nick Nguyen and I interviewed high school students from McNeil High School, in close proximity to the Blue Hanger on McNeil Drive, and college students at the University of Texas at Austin. The feedback from our questions confirmed that the Blue Hanger lacks an identity and the public does not understand its connection to Goodwill. High school students expressed reluctance to shopping at Goodwill and, with the exception of one, had never seen or heard of the Blue Hanger. College students had a more positive reaction to the subject in question but had the same ignorance as the young interviewees.
Shopping at the Blue Hanger is vastly different from shopping at the regular retail locations of Goodwill stores. The lack of organization, low cost arrangement and warehouse aesthetic provides an experience that is similar to the average garage sale or flea market. The product is piled haphazardly on four by eight feet wooden tables, lined up in long rows throughout the concrete space. The customers that are most common at the Blue Hanger are underprivileged families, bulk buyers and individuals from the local crafting community looking for cheap materials. The demographic of shoppers at the Blue Hanger lacks youth, despite the high percentage of young people in Austin.
The outlets can be seen as a recycling center as it prevents low quality donations from going straight to landfills. When items are donated to Goodwill they have three weeks to be sold in the retail stores before they are shipped to these outlet locations where they are sold for a low price. The turnover of product on the sale floor is high because the outlets receive a high amount of unwanted donations that need to be processed. Anything that is unsold on the floor is organized in the transportation warehouse adjacent to the outlet store. “Soft line” goods, anything made of textile, and excess cardboard are each compressed into large blocks, which are sold by the pound. “Hard line” goods, anything that isn’t made of textile including shoes, furniture, and home décor, are auctioned in bulk. Excess goods remaining from this process, approximately 20% of Blue Hanger items, end up in the landfill.
Goodwill Industries will utilize the Blue Hanger on McNeil Road as location for “The Blue Bash Program” in order to cater to the middle class families of the area. The Blue Hanger on McNeil Drive is surrounded by neighborhoods with higher economic standing and lower crime rates. Shoppers at the McNeil Blue Hanger are less aggressive than those at Springdale. Also, the interior of the McNeil Blue Hanger is more developed with air conditioning, indoor bathrooms and tables with attached wheels.
The high schools that are in close proximity with the McNeil location are highly competitive, expecting students to participate in extra curricular activities, organizations and charitable work. The program will be targeted to students seeking opportunities for charity, entertainment and creative expression. Events for students interested in music, fashion or art can occur individually or together. Organizations such as National Honor Society, National Art Honor Society and Student Council will have the option of sponsoring events to raise money for Goodwill as a charitable donation. Goodwill will also have annual competitions that will become a tradition for students to participate in and attend, providing friendly competition between neighboring high schools. Winners will be chosen by audience applause, pushing competitors to invite their friends and family. At the events, entrance fees will be minimal and include a donated item. Items will be left out for a “swap-o-rama” style way of getting youth to participate in the exchange of goods. Parents will be comforted in the safe location of the Blue Hanger and youngsters, eager for a change in scenery, will be more apt to participate in events held outside their high school atmosphere.
Bands and artists seeking exposure come to Austin because it is known for live music so it was no surprise when students that Nick and I interviewed at McNeil High School communicated an interest in concert type events. Lunden Atkins, 17, is in a band with friends and says he would play at a hypothetical Blue Bash event. The Blue Bash will have the option of hosting a Blue Hanger Battle of the Bands or a non-competitive concert for one of the other competitions.
Thrift fashion is popular in Austin and young students are always searching for ways to set themselves apart from the crowd with their attire. Jessica Litteken, 16, said she enjoyed thrift shopping because of can always find something unexpected and unique. The Blue Bash Program will have a second option for an event that involves a fashion design competition, culminating in a fashion show. Students must use Blue Hanger clothes to put together outfits that can be worn and walked down the runway.
The crafting community in Austin is predominately an older crowd but young artists are open to creative workshops if there is an incentive. A “Do It Yourself” competition will be the third option by The Blue Bash Program. Students can learn basic construction methods and then compete to create items, such as small furniture, home décor or Halloween apparel that would appeal to their demographic. Items will be auctioned at Goodwill locations and the winner will be one that is sold at the highest bid.
The rows of tables, acceptable for regular shopping experience at the Blue Hanger, can be easily transformed into a stage, a runway, and workshop stations. The stage and runway are simply formations of tables with plywood boards laid on top for a smooth surface. Tables holding swappable goods are bunched in small clusters along the wall near the warehouse entrance. The openness of the swapping area will encourage movement and be a contrast to the constrictive daunting rows that are used during the day. DIY stations are aligned at an angle along the wall to be inviting. An ideal Blue Bash, hosting each type event simultaneously, would fit each necessary element with ease. If events are separate, extra table can be stored in the warehouse.
The Blue Bash Program will change the Goodwill image amongst youth from old grungy rummage to funky, creative and sustainable. A middle class community will have a new relationship with the system, developing committed donors and supporters. Ultimately, revenue will increase and the mission will be easier to achieve and promote.
After an extensive analysis of Goodwill Industries of Central Texas stores, my group and I discovered a potential avenue for increasing the success of Goodwill. We learned how the system works after donations are dropped off, what shoppers think of Goodwill, and the variances in appearance between the stores in Austin. From these observations we know that Goodwill does a lot of good for the community, but there is room for improvement. After interviewing a wide array of people, we discovered that some people do not like to go into the Goodwill stores to shop. This is due to many people having the misconception that all of the items being sold are in bad condition. Also, we found that people do not like to shop in the stores because they “don’t have time to go through all the clutter," “it feels dirty in there," and that “the stores smell," as well as other reasons.
My group and I feel strongly that Goodwill is a great system for helping people get jobs and start new lives, and that there is a way to reach these people that don’t want to shop in the stores. Our proposal is to increase Goodwill’s revenue by creating a website that will reach a new audience. Shopping online is very popular these days, and by welcoming Goodwill to the online community we hope to overcome people’s misconceptions of the store and bring in more revenue to continue to help people. Our hope is that if Goodwill has a website, consumers will choose to shop there over craigslist, ebay, or other online thrift shops, since Goodwill serves a greater purpose.
After a meeting with marketing director Suzanha Burmeister, we learned that Goodwill Industries of Central Texas did try to have a website before for the Computer Works store. The website was unsuccessful because of a lack of marketing, not enough inventory, and a software that was not very user-friendly. Mrs. Burmeister also revealed to us that some store managers do take higher end items and photograph them and try to sell them on ebay to make more money for the store. Managers have to keep their store under budget, which gives them the incentive to do what they can to make as much money as possible. Mrs. Burmeister also told us about how books are already being sold online, but through Amazon.com. They do not advertise that the books are from Goodwill in fear that competitors will trash their good name in the customer reviews.
After taking in all of our research, my team and I devised a plan to make a successful, easy to use, attractive website, named GoGoodwill.com. One of the major components of our plan is to make the website easy to integrate into the existing Goodwill system. This way each store manager will be more likely to implement the website for their store.
Each store will need an employee to be in charge of the website, but it is up to each store whether this needs to be a new hire, or if there is an existing employee that can take on the responsibilities. Each store will also need a computer for the sales floor, a digital camera, a place to take the pictures of each item, and shelves to store the items.
When donations come in to each store, that sorter will set aside higher end items. The website employee will then choose which items to sell online, which will all have a value of at least ten dollars, and photograph them. They will then assign each item a number and place them on the shelves. The employee will then upload the photographs to the computer, send them to the server, and then the items will be organized on the website by the website software.
When a customer finds an item they want on the website, they will pay with a credit card online. Then, the respective store will be alerted and the item will be taken off the website. The store employee will label the item with a new label that contains the name of the customer and the date that it was paid for. The item will be moved to a shelf that is clearly marked sold, and then the customer has forty-eight hours to come pick up their item. Since there is a limited amount of space for storage, customers will be encouraged to pick up their items on time by implementing a late fee. They will be charged three dollars a day after the forty-eight hour period, for up to five days. After the fifth day of being late to pick up the item, the item will be returned to the floor without a refund to the customer. We decided not to have an option for shipping because each store would have to store all of the shipping supplies, which would take up too much room, and also would need someone that was very good at packing items to insure the items won’t be broken in transit.
Each item will be kept on the website for one week. If it has not been sold within a week, it will be put on the sales floor. There is a countdown for each item on the website so the customers know how much longer it will be available online. The purpose of only keeping the items on the website for a week is so that the website won’t hoard all of the higher end items and there will still be nice items available in the stores. If the customer is not fully pleased with their purchase they can return it to the store they purchased it from within thirty days with their receipt.
Each store will have a computer out on their sales floor for people to check out the website while shopping in the store. This will be a good way to introduce people to the website, so hopefully they will use it when they are at home, too. The computers will be donated by Computer Works, and will only be used for GoGoodwill.com. The computer will be placed by the registers, or on a table anywhere in the store that is convenient and easily accessible by customers.
Each store will receive an employee guide that will instruct the website employee how to set up and use the website. It explains how to set up the website software, how to take a quality photograph, how to store the items, what to do when an item is sold and how the auction process works. It will be in PDF form, so it can be kept on the computer or printed out for the employee to keep as reference.
There will be one website supervisor for each region that will overlook the website to make sure that it is working and to answer any questions that the individual store employees might have.
Implementing the website will only cost the amount of buying the website software and a digital camera. To get the website up and running for each store, it will only take the amount of time it takes to organize a space to store the items and a place to photograph the items, and to set up the software. This should only take one day.
GoGoodwill.com is designed to be very clean and organized, a large contrast to the appearance of inside the stores. This will allow shoppers to easily browse through the items without feeling overwhelmed. The website is organized by city. Each item is labeled with the name of the store that it is located at. This is important because the customer must come to the store to pick up the item. Goodwill is set apart from other thrift stores, like the Salvation Army, because it helps the local community. We want to keep the focus on the community by having the customer come in to the store to pick up their item. By getting the customer into the store, we hope that they will look around and realize that there are good finds in the stores. It can also be a great chance for the customer to bring in donations. There is an auction section on the website so that online shoppers can browse what is up for auction each week at each store. They will not be allowed to bid or buy any of these items online, but are encouraged to attend the live auction if they see something they are interested in.
Also, the GoGoodwill.com aims to educate shoppers about Goodwill’s mission. At the top of the main page for each city is the mission statement. On the top of Austin’s main page it reads “Our mission is to enhance the quality and dignity of life for individuals, families and our community by providing job-related services for people with barriers to employment.” There is also a link directing the shopper to find out more about Goodwill by going to the main website. When the shopper buys an item, there will be a processing page that will feature stories about the lives that Goodwill has helped. Then, once the item is finished being purchased, there will be a page thanking the customer for helping to provide jobs and services for people in need.
We propose that the marketing plan to get GoGoodwill.com known be a cost efficient one. Including the URL on Goodwill shopping bags and placing posters about the website in the stores will let current Goodwill shoppers know about the site. An inexpensive way to get the community to know about the site is to write postings on local online blogs, such as Austinist.com. We suggest that online banners be placed on Austin websites, such as Salon.com and AustinChronicle.com, to let internet surfers know about the new way to shop at Goodwill. If these inexpensive manners do not appear to be working, other ideas are to create ads for newspapers, television commercials, and billboards.
By creating an organized website, that is easily integrated into the existing Goodwill system, partnered with a cost efficient and extensive marketing plan, we hope to attract new customers and increase revenue for Goodwill, while increasing awareness of Goodwill’s mission to help those in need get jobs.