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Monday, Oct 2, 2023

Goodwill OC Finds Niche With Halloween Business

October the top sales month for nonprofit; nears $7M

Goodwill of Orange County is looking to become the community’s destination for Halloween costumes.

October has become the donated retail organization’s best month for in-store sales, with last year reaching $6.4 million, the best in the history for Orange County’s second-largest nonprofit by revenue.

As of last week, Goodwill reported an 8% boost in sales compared to a year ago. The Santa Ana-based nonprofit is nearing $7 million in sales for 2022—another record month.
Goodwill counts 23 stores in Orange County.

The retail team’s efforts “have evolved over the last five to 10 years,” with an emphasis on being proactive during the holiday season, Chief Executive Nicole Suydam told the Business Journal.

In the last several years, Goodwill OC has developed an in-store Halloween shop for its locations.

The team visits Halloween industry trade shows to gather information on rising trends in costumes. Leading up to the holiday, a collection of donated costumes, accessories and clothing are curated for the mid-September to October display.

Most of this processing is overseen from the organization’s centralized donation processing warehouse in Tustin. Company officials note that manufacturers will send exclusive masks, hats and accessories to the facility as well.

Goodwill reports that over 330,000 in-store transactions occured in October, an 11% increase compared to the rest of the year.

Collectible items and pieces are also selected for an online display to drive traffic to the rebranded website.

Compared to business on Black Friday, another major event for the nonprofit’s stores, sales on Fridays during the Halloween season are about 25% higher on average.

Goodwill also partners with social media influencers to highlight the Halloween offerings, as well as place ads on Spotify and Spanish-speaking radio stations.

“We’ve really gotten smarter in how we promote,” said Suydam, a 2018 Business Journal Women in Business Award winner (see related stories throughout this edition).

Team Training

The nonprofit, which is also focused on providing jobs, opened its Training Center for Success last month creating a simulated store experience to train new retail employees.

Recognizing a need for more labor, the facility will offer an improved training experience while expanding employment opportunities at Goodwill’s headquarters.

Suydam noted that the new program allowed better training for those with disabilities to join the retail team. The OC branch’s disabilities services program employed 3,184 people in 2021.

She sees the possibility of using the center for other job needs in the future as well.

Expansion Plans

Goodwill OC—whose local operations run the shopgoodwill.com online store, which is the e-commerce platform for most local Goodwills across the country—recently finished renovating its Santa Ana flagship store, in time for the October sales push.

Although there are no new locations in the works, Suydam noted that the organization could double its brick-and-mortar footprint in the next 10 to 15 years.

The biggest challenge would be convincing landlords to accept the nonprofit retailer as a valuable tenant, according to Suydam.

The renovated stores are “a great representation of what we can do in the community and other shopping centers,” Suydam said.

“We’re an organization that prides itself on being a good steward of our resources [and we want] to use this flagship as a showcase to potential landlords.”

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