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Goodwill goes for boutique ambiance

Nonprofit giant Goodwill, which earns about $4 billion annually from its 2,900 stores, is betting on younger shoppers. The idea is to attract them to its new boutiques as it tries to cash in on "thrift store chic," a fashion trend that hip-hop duo Macklemore and Ryan Lewis made a hit tune out of with 2012's "Thrift Shop."

Goodwill currently has 60 boutiques, and the charity plans to change more of its cavernous stores into "smaller, more intimate shops where the furniture is antique, the clothing is designer, and the space feels more like Urban Outfitters (URBN) than a warehouse selling 'those moccasins someone else has been walkin' in,' as Macklemore put it," according to Ad Week.

They even have fashionable names like RARE and Deja Blue.

RARE is in Anaheim, California, and strikes a hip tone by describing itself as "RARE by Goodwill." That's not an accident.

"We understand that in Orange County, we have a 91-year-old brand and with that comes some beautiful brand equity, but also some old understanding of who we are," said Frank Talarico Jr., CEO of Goodwill of Orange County, in press release. "We felt that these boutique-style stores gave us an opportunity to successfully innovate our retail operation that would set us up for expanded, long-term growth and proactively prove that we can exceed our shoppers' expectations."

RARE aims to appeal to folks who want to give a picture frame new life as a chalkboard or who want to turn Mason jars into containers for sewing equipment. Those looking for deals on designer goods such as Coach (COH) purses can find them at Deja Blue, which is in Denver.

The 1,900-square foot store is in a freestanding brick cottage whose décor features repurposed light fixtures. Officials there say they're hoping to create the right ambiance to attract young shoppers.

"We had seen other boutique models experience success and thought a similar concept might help us reach a new shopper demographic here in Denver," said Kristen Blessman, chief marketing officer for Goodwill Industries of Denver, in a statement.

Indeed, Deja Blue prides itself on being picky.

"Merchandise for the boutique comes from donations made to select Goodwill stand-alone donation centers and from donations made directly to the boutique itself. Items donated to Goodwill stores will not be considered for Déjà Blue -- ensuring you can still find the high-quality, brand-name goods you've come to expect at all Goodwill retail stores," according to the store's website.

Money raised by the boutiques will be used to fund Goodwill's job-placement, education and vocational programs.