The Goodwill store near The Maine Mall in South Portland is adding a new, in-store boutique, called Handpicked, similar to this one in Vermont. Contributed

SOUTH PORTLAND — In an attempt to keep up with the ever-evolving retail landscape, the Goodwill store near The Maine Mall in South Portland is trying something new – a more experiential shopping experience.

Goodwill plans to open its new Handpicked By Goodwill in-store boutique Dec. 14, to offer a specially curated collection of items at somewhat higher prices than the organization generally charges for its donated goods.

More and more retailers are offering similar techniques in order to attract in-person shopping and to remain “nimble, vibrant and viable,” in a retail market that’s going through “a tumultuous, rapid transition,” said William Mann, the economic development director for the city of South Portland.

Curtis Picard, executive director of the Retail Association of Maine, agreed, saying “this is absolutely something retailers are doing. The customer base is changing and they’re expecting new and different things. They want what they want in the manner they want it.”

“A lot more retailers are offering more experiential or boutique shopping experiences to show customers what they can get by entering the store,” Picard said. “Retail has always been and will always be highly competitive and (stores) keep reinventing themselves to ensure they stay relevant.”

Steeves said Goodwill is carving out about 1,200-square-feet of space from the nearly 16,600-square-foot retail floor for the new Handpicked boutique and no exterior renovations were needed.

Goodwill is a nonprofit “that exists for one purpose: to eliminate barriers to opportunity and help people in need reach their full potential through learning and the power of work,” according to the organization’s website. “For more than a century, Goodwill has worked in communities to help people with disabilities, disadvantages and anyone facing challenges to finding employment,” the site says.

Goodwill supports its mission through a variety of means, but one of the most popular are the retail stores located in communities across the country where people can find gently used and new clothing, housewares, furniture and more at discounted prices.

According to Goodwill of Northern New England, almost 92% of the revenue generated goes back into supporting its mission.

Heather Steeves, the external communications manager at Goodwill of Northern New England, said Maine programs include 23 group homes for adults with disabilities, two brain injury clinics, workforce programs “that help thousands of people every year find great careers” and day programming for adults with disabilities.

The Goodwill store at 555 Maine Mall Road opened 10 years ago and Steeves said it’s the busiest store of the 30 that Goodwill of Northern New England operates in all of Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont. She said the store makes about 17,000 transactions each month and receives about 10,000 donations.

It’s one of two Goodwill stores in the city. The other is located in Millcreek Plaza.

For now, Steeves said only the Goodwill near the mall and the store in Bangor will offer Handpicked, although two Handpicked boutiques have opened in Salem, New Hampshire and Williston, Vermont.

Steeves said Handpicked is opening due to customer demand for the opportunity to shop designer wear or other specialty goods without having to search the entire store. “We’re giving customers the chance to buy our nicest finds for a reasonable price,” she said, “because the finds themselves are exceptional.”

This story was updated to reflect the correct percentage of revenue used to directly support Goodwill’s mission.

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