Goodwill's Deja Blue boutique is like the mall, but cheaper and with less stuff

The basic Goodwill business model -- which relies on people cramming a bunch of garbage bags full of random shit they don't want anymore and giving it to Goodwill to sort and sell for cheap -- offers two major benefits: 1) You can get the shit for way cheaper than if you bought it new, and 2) There's a lot of great, weird stuff in these stores that you can't even find anywhere else. But those benefits come, of course, at a price: You have to be willing to dig through a heap of crap to get to them.

For some people -- like me -- the thrill of the chase is the best part; for others, not so much. And it's presumably that latter group that Goodwill seeks to cater to with Deja Blue, its brand-new "boutique" that purports to dig out all the good designer stuff and centralize it at one location. But while the prices are still cheap, I'm not sold.

As person who likes digging though crap to find awesome stuff for cheap, there were a couple of things that irritated me about the Deja Blue concept right off the bat, the first being that I just don't like the idea that people can find the good crap -- my good crap -- without the effort of looking for it. Luckily, from what I saw at Deja Blue's opening day on Saturday, it seems I don't have that much to worry about. Because Deja Blue does not have all that much good crap.

Basically, going to Deja Blue is like going to a much smaller version of the mall -- or, perhaps more accurately, it's as if every store in the mall just donated their super-savings racks, the ones where they're just trying to liquidate the stuff nobody bought from last season, and this is the place they donated it to. Mall brands abound: In the men's section, I found much Hollister, Structure, Levis and Tommys both Hilfiger and Bahama. There was also a whole rack of leather jackets. Be advised: just because a jacket is leather does not make it cool, as evidenced by the one at left.

Also, because I'm an intrepid reporter, I scouted out the ladies and found more of the same ilk: lots of Banana Republic, some Express and a smattering of Anne Taylor. Plus, one thing from Nordstrom.

So I guess it depends on your definition of "good crap." Don't get me wrong: I enjoy occasionally finding a nice J. Crew sweater or something from a couple of seasons ago at a fraction of the cost among the Goodwill racks -- and while there is a slight markup (I'd say an average of $2; call it a finder's fee) at Deja Blue, these are basically Goodwill prices we're talking about, so it's good for that kind of thing.

But when I go a-thrifting, that's not the kind of crap I'm generally looking for. I'm looking for a badass, perfectly preserved tie time-warped out of 1964, for example, or a beautifully cut tuxedo from some obscure tailor in New York that somebody inexplicably threw out and happens to fit me perfectly (this actually happened to me once, and I wear it on every occasion it's even marginally appropriate to wear a tuxedo, up to and possibly including funerals). Or a weird hat or something. And I can be assured that I will find none of this stuff at Deja Blue. Which is comforting.

But it also leaves me a little confused. Because I'm not going to lie: That secret, buried part of me that used to put EAT THE RICH stickers on his car smelled a probably unfounded whiff of classism at work here: I mean, here we have a store that Goodwill -- a store for poor people -- built specifically to house its "designer" stuff, and it's located in Cherry Creek, all facts pointing to the conclusion that Goodwill is trying to... what, cater to rich people? Not that poor people can't just drive over to Cherry Creek, or take the bus or whatever, and go there -- after all, I did -- but it's weird, right?

Particularly because I'm guessing rich people don't want to shop at Goodwill for any reason -- because why bother? -- let alone for brands like Hollister that they'd be well beyond affording even if said Hollister duds were new. Then again, what do I know about being rich? I've never been able to scrape together more than twelve bucks before I blew it on candy and malt liquor. Maybe rich people get rich because they like to buy their clothes for cheap. All I'm saying is, the rent up there in Cherry Creek's got to be astronomical.

Either way, on opening day Saturday, the place was packed -- it is, after all, an intriguing concept. But as I was walking out, I espied a gentleman wearing an honest-to-God ascot on his way in, and I thought, "Man, this dude is about to be disappointed."

Update: In the above story, Westword asserted that Goodwill is "a store for poor people." Since then, we've been informed that this is not the case: "I wanted to touch base with you to correct some factual errors in your reporting," Goodwill spokeswoman Vanessa Clark told us via email. "You stated that Goodwill stores are for poor people. Goodwill stores are for everyone."

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Jef Otte
Contact: Jef Otte