December 21, 2010; Source: NPR | Long known as the place to donate clothing you can’t hand down to other family members and other cast-off household items, Goodwill Industries is working hard to shed its image as primarily a reseller of low-value and discarded goods.

By carefully sorting through its donations to find higher-end items it can sell at special trunk shows or online, Goodwill is in the process of fashioning itself as the go-to place for discriminating buyers. “The misperception I think amongst most donors and consumers is that Goodwill’s mission is to sell low-cost goods to people in need,” says Brendan Hurley of Goodwill of Greater Washington, D.C. Instead, Hurley explains revenues from sales help the nonprofit provide job training for the disabled and disadvantaged. Thus the more it sells and the more it makes, the more good it can do.

That’s why Goodwill is taking steps “to reach a new and a younger consumer who might look at Goodwill as a realistic fashion option.” While Goodwill D.C., which has its own fashion blog, Fashionista, might be the trendsetter for the entire organization, at least two dozen other Goodwills run their own year-round boutiques, with more in the works according to NPR.

In addition to trying more creative ways to sell goods to retail buyers, Goodwill is auctioning items on eBay as well as via its own online shop []. Even small items like books can fetch more being sold on the internet—and sell faster —than if they were to sit on a shelf in a retail store waiting for the right buyer to happen by.

Goodwill expects to make some $5 million this year from online sales nationwide, and even more in the future. All this goes to show, that where there’s a will, there’s a good way to get things done.—Bruce Trachtenberg