Monday, July 20, 2020

When the 2020s Meet the Thrift Store

Goodwill #5239
1965 Viera Boulevard, Viera (Melbourne), FL

     If I were to ask most people to describe the stereotypical thrift store, I'd probably get a description of a very low-budget place located in a washed-up shopping center anchored by Big Lots, Save-A-Lot, and a pawn shop, cramped and messy on the inside, with mismatched fixtures and signage throughout. While the thrift stores described like that are usually the best ones to rummage through years worth of piled-up junk, sometimes it's interesting to see the other end of the spectrum - the sleek modern thrift store (yes, never would I have thought I'd use the words "sleek" and "modern" in the same sentence as "thrift store"!) The "sleek modern thrift store" will be the subject of this post, where we'll be taking a peek at Goodwill of Central Florida's fancy new look!

     If any kind of thrift store is going to make it in the upscale-leaning Brevard County community of Viera, it's going to be one that looks like this. The Viera Goodwill opened on May 28, 2020, in a brand new building constructed across the street from the former Earth Fare store (and future Winn-Dixie). The Viera Goodwill was the second store in Goodwill of Central Florida's fleet to feature their new look, following the opening of the Lady Lake Goodwill on May 14, 2020. For quite a while now, Goodwill of Central Florida (who operates all of the Goodwill stores in the greater Orlando area) had been using a colorful interior palate, which we saw a little bit of in my recent post about Kissimmee's Mill Creek Mall. These new stores opened in the last few months have switched to a completely new interior decor package, featuring a gray and blue color scheme. But before we move along inside, I just have to say this place has one fancy looking exterior for a thrift store too!

     Before stepping inside, here's a look across the store's front walkway. One thing there isn't a shortage of in this building is natural light, as there are windows wrapping around the front and sides of the building, which was a nice touch.

     You enter into the middle of the building here, stepping into racks of clothing. Clothing takes up 75% of Goodwill's sales floor, and like most thrift stores, is the majority of what is sold here. All of the non-clothing merchandise is located along the store's right side wall, visible in the distance here.

     Here's a better look at what you see when first walking through the store's front doors, looking straight into the racks of clothing. The new interior decor also comes off quite clear in this image. The walls are primarily gray, with little sayings and pictures describing Goodwill's mission around the store's perimeter. The support poles throughout the sales floor are painted blue to accent the gray throughout the rest of the store, and feature additional advertisements and posters for Goodwill.

     Heading over toward the non-clothing aisles, here's a look toward the back of the store, where we get a clearer view of the wall decor. The book section is located behind where I was standing to take this picture. Usually, Goodwill of Central Florida has really large book sections in their stores. The book selection here seemed a bit smaller than normal, but that could also be because this store didn't have the bookshelves broken into numerous small aisles like the older stores typically do. While I didn't get a close-up photo of the book department, you can see it in the background of the very first interior image of this store.

     Electronics and small appliances line the right side wall, above which are many of the windows installed to give this store an abundance of natural light. Opposite the wall are the store's many aisles of bric-a-brac, this and that, and et cetera. Speaking of bric-a-brac, this and that, and et cetera, here are some small retail relics I found amongst all of that as I browsed these aisles:

     A Richway price sticker on an old boardgame (Word Yahtzee to be precise)...

     ...and an old Zayre price tag on a foam cone, placed next to an I ❤️ Iowa water bottle that must have been donated immediately upon its former owner's move to Florida.

     Retail relics and people's love for corn country aside, we'll bring our attention back to the main sales floor of the new Viera Goodwill. Here's a look across the center of the clothes racks as seen from the et cetera aisles, showing off some of the store's decorated columns.

     Moving along to the back of the store, here's another look through the clothing.

     The back wall again, but this time as seen from the opposite side of the building.

     Turning the corner to the left side wall of the building, we don't only find more clothes, but also more windows.

     It's not just these brand new Goodwill stores that use lots of windows, but most of the buildings Goodwill of Central Florida has built from scratch over the last few years are quite generous with the natural light.

     The fitting rooms are located behind the jewelry counter in the front left corner of the building.

     Returning to the front of the store, here's another look across the building, as well as a sample of the store's department signs (which only exist for the clothing departments).

     The check lanes are located in a small queuing area at the front of the store, off to the side of the main entrance.

     Here's a better look at the front check lanes, complete with light up LED number poles - a bit of a fancy touch for a thrift store. Considering I've been to some thrift stores where the cashier has nothing more than a calculator and a notepad, this is quite the setup Goodwill has here!

     Goodwill of Central Florida will have a third location like the one we just saw opening in Lake Nona on July 23, 2020, but that's the last new store I know of out of them for right now. Goodwill of Central Florida has been relocating and upgrading their existing stores quite a bit over the last decade, so I wouldn't be surprised to see some existing locations remodel or upgrade to this new look as well. Compared to most thrift stores, there was plenty of organization and coordination of merchandise here, topped off with a decor package that's complete and matches everything else in the building. While it's fun to pick out old Kmart shelves bought at a liquidation sale and decor remnants from prior tenants when shopping at the thrift store, sometimes it's fun to see what happens when the 2020s meets the thrift store!

     Anyway, that's all I have for now. Pretty much all the other thrift store tours I have in my archives are to showcase remnants from a prior tenant, so we'll be back to the comforting confines of our stereotypical thrift store in the Save-A-Lot plaza before long. So until the next post,



  1. That has to be the classiest Goodwill ever built.

    1. I'd say! I've never seen a thrift store as fancy as this one before.

  2. It's certainly hard for me to comprehend the idea of Goodwill building a brand new location! Goodwill Houston almost always locates their stores in older shopping centers. The one exception might be the League City store on I-45 which may have opened with that giant Wal-Mart/JCPenney/Best Buy powercenter. If it didn't open with it, it at least moved in not long after the center opened.

    The layout of this Goodwill is not considerably different from the average Goodwill Houston store which have somewhat standardized interiors. The colors, decor, and signage are different, but otherwise this feels like walking around one of our Goodwills. Most Goodwills here don't have windows since they are usually in the middle of shopping centers, but the Sawdust Rd. Goodwill in The Woodlands, which is in a subdivided 1990s ex-Kmart, does have some windows like this store does. I picked up an awesome 1979 MCS Series (JCPenney's house brand for stereo equipment at the time) cassette deck from there about seven or eight years ago.

    The funny thing about that Goodwill is that it is located next to the Whataburger Learning Center. Whataburger's version of Hamburger University is quite odd. The windows are all covered up and the door has a heavy tint on it. It's almost like they are guarding secrets in there kind of like KFC would with the 11 herbs & spices. Given the high security demands, it's surprising that Whataburger would put this Hamburger University in a shopping center. Here's a link to it:

    Oddly enough, HEB has a corporate office in the shopping center right next to the Whataburger one. The HEB corporate office is in an ex-Wal-Mart (an old Discount City era location) that is now subdivided with the HEB office and a Big Lots. The HEB office must not have any top secrets in it because their windows are not covered/tinted. It's still odd that HEB would have an office like that with 1980s Wal-Mart labelscar still visible, but it's kind of neat in a way:

    One difference between Goodwill Houston and this Central Florida Goodwill is that our Goodwills have a somewhat different checkout design. Our Goodwills have a single checkout queue, but the checkouts themselves double as the boutique/jewelry display and there are only a couple of registers. The Family Thrift Center chain in Houston does have a checkout design similar to this Central Florida one, but it's certainly not as upscale. Family Thrift Centers aren't the grungiest thrifts in town, but they are pretty close. Value Village would have to be the worst around here that I know of. I once put my hand in a basket of used items, I don't remember what, and found that the basket was also full of broken glass! Fortunately, I didn't cut myself or else I might have had to have gone in for shots!

    The only newly built thrift store I can think of in Houston, at least in recent years, is the NAM Thrift. This is a religiously affiliated thrift which used to operate three stores in North-NW Houston. One was in an old 1990s Eckerd, one was in an old Wal-Mart, and one was in a multi-story office building of all places (that was the nicest thrift around!). Around 2014 or so, these all temporarily consolidated into an old Kmart building until the new facility could be built. The new facility looks like an office building, but it probably does have some offices for other functions. The old Kmart now houses a different thrift store and is one of the rare places in Houston where one can see ex-Kmart vintage big HVAC vents. Anyway, here's the new NAM thrift:

    I know I'm making this proclamation a little early, but congrats on reaching 100,000 pageviews here at My Florida Retail!

    1. Goodwill of Central Florida has built lots of locations from the ground up, and actually, it seems to be their preferred option if possible. Gulfstream Goodwill (our Goodwill operator to the south, which is based out of West Palm Beach) is the same way, preferring to build their own stores if possible. I know its weird thinking of a thrift store going all out like that, but I know of some small independent thrift stores that built their own locations in years past as well!

      Even though Goodwill has a variety of different branches throughout the country, they probably have some operational similarities between branches, keeping some things consistent (like recommended layouts and such). That Whataburger Learning Center is rather oddly placed in a shopping center like that, especially with the covered windows. I've seen a Chick-fil-a University before, and it certainly wasn't as intimidating looking as that one for Whataburger is! As for HEB's offices, when I first pulled up that streetview, I thought that space was still vacant! (While cool, the old Walmart labelscars weren't helping in making that part of the building seem lively). It took me a moment to see HEB's small sign on the window.

      The checkout queue like the one at the Viera Goodwill is a new thing for Goodwill of Central Florida. Goodwill of CFL used to use regular checkout counters like a grocery store or a large round counter, but has been shifting to the queue thing recently (in the new stores, as well as retrofitting those into older stores - however, not all of the older stores have the new setup yet). Our local Goodwill stores are pretty clean by thrift store standards, but we have some local ones that are pretty grimy.

      A thrift store in a multi-story office building sounds rather interesting! Too bad that ended up relocating in the end. That's also neat the new thrift store kept the vintage Kmart elements, especially in a city Kmart exited so many years ago now!

      And thanks! I really haven't been keeping track of the pageviews on here too close. Unlike MSRB, I don't have anything special planned for the occasion, but maybe in the future I'll do a post about something fun...

  3. I like to consider my Goodwill as being a step up from many other thrift stores like the typical variety you mention (and it looks even newer now, following an extensive renovation during its COVID-closure that completely wiped out the old Goody's relics visible in my previous stour from there posted on this blog)... but man, this Goodwill is sharp!! I really, really dig the font and color choices in their décor package, and the building itself is in fantastic shape too (love all the windows in the design). I bet the use of windows is to help them save on electricity, which is smart, and may even outweigh the cost of building new (since I would imagine that most thrift stores occupy secondhand spaces precisely because that's cheaper than building new). All in all, really great store. (I also like how the angular graphics remind me of Kroger's fresh and local, and the people murals of Kmart's green concept :P )

    1. I knew that some of those blue graphics looked familiar. Yes, they are similar to Kroger's 'Fresh and Local' decor package. Good catch, Retail Retell. Fortunately, this Goodwill does not have any sad cupcakes like my local 'Fresh and Local' Kroger. But, yeah, I suppose we see how unique decor is at various chains.

      I meant to mention this in my above reply, but while this is a very nice Goodwill, I'm not a fan of the rusty facade. I've seen that same design used here in Houston for a few various things, but usually not anything as big as that Goodwill facade. It looks like tacky faux industrialism to me and I'm sure that design will not age well. Then again, if any kind of retailer can get away with out of date, rusty architecture, it's probably a thrift store, lol.

      Every once in a while, I'll find a thrift store which annoys me by not having open electrical outlets for testing electronics and appliances. I'm not sure if this Goodwill would meet that expectation. That new NAM Thrift Store in Houston that I linked above actually has a marked area for testing stuff. That's certainly an appreciated thing.

    2. @Retail Retell - Goodwill certainly runs some of the cleaner and more organized thrift store around here, and in other places from my experiences. That's too bad your local Goodwill remodeled, but at least Goodwill of Memphis has been taking some initiative to keep its stores looking good (and possibly to prevent another takeover like what happened a few years ago). Like you, I was really impressed with this place, and it's a really spiffy looking thrift store! I like all the windows too, and I'm sure that feature helps Goodwill save money in the long run. Glad you liked the place!

      @Anon - I guess because I never see Kroger's Fresh and Local decor (besides in photos), that similarity never jumped out to me since I don't see that stuff all the time. Now that you guys mention it, I see it too. This place certainly has quite the showy exterior for a thrift store compared to the traditional non-descript designs. But like you said, if there's any place that can get away with potential outdatedness, it's a thrift store!

      While this Goodwill doesn't have a dedicated testing table, there are open plugs scattered about in the part of the store with electronics and such. At the other Goodwill stores in the area, the employees don't mind if you use any of the random plugs scattered about to test stuff.