NORTH ADAMS -- Customers were busy piling their shopping carts high with purchases at the new Goodwill North County Store and Boutique, at 166 State St., shortly after it opened its doors Thursday.
"The response has already been very favorable," Ted Concepcion, director of operations for Goodwill of the Berkshires and Southern Vermont, said Thursday. "We're trying to rebrand our stores, so that no matter where you are, you know you're shopping at a Goodwill. This is our second new store. We recently opened one on Dalton Avenue in Pittsfield. We have another in Bennington, Vt., which we plan to redo. We're not going to move the store, just renovate the interior to better reflect our brand and our mission."
A grand opening and ribbon cutting ceremony is planned for Saturday, Nov. 17, at 1 p.m. Frank Engels, CEO of Goodwill of the Berkshires and Southern Vermont, along with Mayor Richard Alcombright, will be on-hand to offer remarks. The grand opening will include a drawing to win a new brand-name tablet computer, hourly drawings for store discount coupons and other prizes.
Concepcion said the new design to the stores, which reflects a "boutique" approach, is aimed at letting their donors know "that they take their work very seriously" and that their donations will have "a shot at having a good second home."
The new store, located in the former Aaron's building, replaces the Goodwill store on Howland Avenue in Adams.
"We're currently using that as a donation site, but we hope to have it closed by mid-November," he said. "Our reason for moving was to be closer to the downtown. Although the Howland Avenue store gets a lot of traffic, we wanted to be in a business district. Our new look needed an aesthetically pleasing building that gave us an opportunity to build our branding around it."
The agency currently rents the Adams location and has entered into a long-term lease on its new building, which is owned by City Council President Michael Bloom.
In addition, he said the layout of the State Street building allows all of the store's merchandise to be displayed in a single space.
"We've tried to lay out the store in a way where there's more of a discovery as you shop," Concepcion said. "There's something new to see around every corner. We're hoping that our customers see it as a wonderful place to shop and to have fun. We're also looking to attract college students from Williams and MCLA, as they tend to pack light when they come to college. We're also hoping that they'll donate to us when they leave for the summer."
New to the store is the "Suit YourSelf" boutique, a referral-only service that provides free work attire for individuals who are transitioning back to the workplace.
"A lot of people who are going in for job interviews really don't have the attire they need for that first interview," Concepcion said. "We provide them with the attire and full accessories. If they get the position they are applying for, we'll also dress them with a week's worth of clothing, all for free."
Clothing in the Suit YourSelf boutique, which includes high-end name-brand items, is also for sale at below retail prices.
"We also have a voucher program for families in need and work with individuals who may have developmental disabilities," he said. "We help teach them a trade and social skills so that they can go out into the workforce. We also work with them to build their resumes, whether they are with us for four weeks or four months. We also help them with interview techniques, working on the "20-second elevator speech." In today's work place, you need to say who you are and why you are valuable in under a minute."
To reach Jennifer Huberdeau, email firstname.lastname@example.org.