Centre Street a thrift store hub?

February 20, 2009
By

DAVID TABER

Goodwill may return; Boomerangs is unfazed

JP CENTER—Centre Street may soon become a second-hand mecca if Goodwill Industries cements a deal to move into the vacant storefront at 678 Centre St. once inhabited by the shoe store Foot Locker.

The popular Boomerangs thrift store currently operates at 716 Centre St.

The move would be a return to Jamaica Plain for Goodwill. A Goodwill store moved out of a smaller Centre Street location in the 2003, said James Harder, spokesperson for Morgan Memorial Goodwill Industries, the Massachusetts branch of Goodwill industries International.

Goodwill is not set on the Centre Street location. “It is one of the many sites we are looking at,” Harder said, “If things work out we would love to be in JP.”

Harder, a JP resident, said he does not think the Goodwill and Boomerangs stores would be in competition with each other. “Nationally, when similar retailers are right next to each other, they both benefit,” he said.

Harder said Boomerang’s eye-catching window displays would “give [a Goodwill store] something to strive for.”

Paul Twitchell, spokesperson for the AIDS Action Committee of Massachusetts, which runs Boomerangs, was enthusiastic about Goodwill locating on Centre Street. “It’s great that we could have another business to fill an empty storefront,” he said. “Having more savvy shoppers on Centre Street will benefit all the stores. A rising tide lifts all boats,” he said.

While the recent economic downturn may be boosting sales at thrift stores, Goodwill has been “looking to expand for a number of years,” Harder said.

The downturn is “challenging for everyone, and if we can fill a need, that’s wonderful,” he said.

As the Gazette reported earlier this month, Boomerangs is considering opening a new location in West Roxbury. Twitchell said business has been booming at the JP store, particularly in the last year.

Founded in 1895 in Boston’s South End neighborhood, Morgan Memorial Goodwill Industries was the first Goodwill program. “We were one of the first recyclers,” Harder said.

Today, the over 18 million pounds of goods the program sells every year help the Massachusetts Goodwill run job training programs—including through their stores—summer camps and academic support programs that serve over 9,000 state residents.

The AIDS Action Committee is New England’s oldest non-profit social service provider for people living with HIV and AIDS. Founded in 1983, it serves over 2,500 people.

Best of JP 2014