Fashion Cents

Jen­nifer Bon­at, 18, and Jes­sica Banach, 17 (right), mod­el gowns that will be avail­able dur­ing the prom sale. MARIA POUCH­NIKOVA / TIMES PHOTO

— North­east Philly will be the scene Good­will In­dus­tries’ pop­u­lar Prom Dress Sale on Sat­urday. It’s a chance for girls to look great…at a great price.


Good­will prides it­self on the slo­gan, “We put people to work.”

This Sat­urday, Good­will’s Bustleton Av­en­ue store will also be put­ting a lot of teen­age girls to “play,” if that’s what you want to call the high-school prom sea­son.

Good­will In­dus­tries of South­ern New Jer­sey and Phil­adelphia will bring its an­nu­al Prom Dress Sale to its North­east loc­a­tion for the first time, and hun­dreds of leftover new and gently used prom dresses will be avail­able for pur­chase at ri­dicu­lously low prices.

Doors open at 9 a.m., but lines are ex­pec­ted to form out­side earli­er than that. The store is at 10101 Bustleton Ave., on the north­east corner of Bustleton and Red Li­on Road.

“We’re bring­ing (the sale) to the North­east be­cause it’s such a densely pop­u­lated area for teens and high schools and it should make a lot of girls happy, and that’s the goal,” said Ju­li Lun­d­berg, pub­lic re­la­tions man­ager for the Maple Shade-based Good­will In­dus­tries In­ter­na­tion­al af­fil­i­ate.

Good­will of South­ern New Jer­sey and Phil­adelphia has three stores in Phil­adelphia and about 17 oth­ers in New Jer­sey, as far north as Mon­mouth County.

Sat­urday’s sale will fea­ture at least 600 avail­able dresses in all col­ors, styles and sizes. New dresses sell for as little as $19.99, while gently used dresses could sell for as little as $7.99. The same gar­ments might sell for hun­dreds in a re­tail set­ting.

Mak­ing the prom more af­ford­able for teens and their fam­il­ies was the mo­tiv­a­tion be­hind the or­gan­iz­a­tion’s first prom-dress sale in 2009. Ac­cord­ing to Lun­d­berg, a form­al­wear re­tail­er ini­tially con­tac­ted Good­will seek­ing to donate some un­sold in­vent­ory. The second­hand seller gladly ac­cep­ted the dresses. The an­nu­al sale has grown big­ger each year.

“It came from a sign of the times,” Lun­d­berg said. “The eco­nomy was in a down­turn and people were look­ing for a bar­gain.”

They still are.

Nowadays, Good­will reaches out to many form­al­wear and bridal stores throughout the year to so­li­cit for their sur­plus. Fur­ther, a lot of in­di­vidu­als donate their re­cently worn prom dresses. Good­will also hosts a bridal sale around Valentine’s Day each year.

The plan is to cor­don off a large sec­tion at the front of the 11,000-square-foot store and cre­ate a “prom boutique,” ac­cord­ing to Lun­d­berg.

“We’ll have a full staff and we’ll ask vo­lun­teers from our cor­por­ate of­fice to help out,” the PR man­ager said.

Work­ers will bring in port­able dress­ing rooms to com­ple­ment the store’s per­man­ent ones. In case the turnout is really big, pat­rons may be giv­en tick­ets so that a lim­ited num­ber may enter at a giv­en time. Those ar­riv­ing first will have first choice.

The sale may fea­ture many “high end” cre­ations by such de­sign­ers as Vera Wang or Bill Levkoff. Shoes and ac­cessor­ies also will be avail­able.

“Girls are usu­ally lined up at the door. They’re with their moms and their best friends and are giddy with ex­cite­ment,” Lun­d­berg said.

While pat­ron­iz­ing a high-priced boutique may still be a meas­ure of status for some, a grow­ing con­sumer base seems to re­cog­nize Good­will as a more prac­tic­al and so­cially con­scious al­tern­at­ive.

“It teaches girls, ‘I got my prom dress at Good­will and I helped out a char­ity,’” Lun­d­berg said. “It teaches them a sense of so­cial re­spons­ib­il­ity.

“I think we’re more ac­cep­ted now than we were, even fif­teen years ago. (The per­cep­tion) is a lot dif­fer­ent now. I really think it is.”

Pro­ceeds gen­er­ated at Good­will stores fund the or­gan­iz­a­tion’s job train­ing and ca­reer ser­vices for people with dis­ab­il­it­ies and oth­er dis­ad­vant­ages. The prom-dress sale gives Good­will a mar­ket­ing boost, too.

“A pro­mo­tion like this brings new faces in­to the store,” Lun­d­berg said. “And when you bring someone new in­to the store, they al­ways see something they wer­en’t ex­pect­ing.” ••

For in­form­a­tion about the prom-dress sale and Good­will of South­ern New Jer­sey and Phil­adelphia, vis­it www.good­ or “Like” the or­gan­iz­a­tion’s Face­book page.

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