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Retired publishing executive ecstatic with the idea of spending most of his time on the coast of Maine

Saturday, October 17, 2009


A new Goodwill store opened recently in Rockland, and the parking lot has been full the several times I've driven past. I don't know enough about Goodwill to know if what looks like a large number of cars is normal, unusual, due to the bad economy, due to Mainers' thrift, new-store factor (it's actually fairly handsome), or all of the above. In any case it's good to see this kind of recycling happening, especially since the store is located just down the street from a Walmart and its aisles of junk.

Most people want new, of course (lots of other adjectives also apply: shiny, mine, virgin, improved, not-yours). It's the same impulse, I guess, that builds malls and houses, sells new cars, promotes the latest fashions, and re-brands tired tubes of toothpaste. Has the recession helped make us less infantile, drool less, save more, want less? Maybe. For how long?

I wonder if that fabled 70% of the economy that consumers supposedly control applies to Maine. If we buy used and recycle old, how many points of GDP does that count? Has anybody ever measured that part of the economy?

I'm reminded of the book by Rosamond Purcell called Owls Head, a tribute to William Buckminster and his incredible eleven acres in the village completely filled with "junk" like scrap metal and lobster traps and windows and birdhouses and clocks and chandeliers and pretty much everything under the sun, all busted and gently decaying in the rain. Like any good New Englander he never knew when he might just need that iron wood-burning cookstove, or better yet, when someone from "away" would buy it from him. Does Goodwill have an "antiques" section?

1 comment:

Goodwill said...

Thanks for the great post. We sell any antiques that are donated to us; we also sell some higher end items on our eBay site (www.goodwillnne.org/ebay).

We also have an art show twice a year in which we sell quality donated art at affordable prices.