Hollywood glamor, at thrift store price

From Goodwill, furniture that made the big screen

By Erin Ailworth
Boston Globe
December 19, 2009

Headed to the movies anytime soon? If the film was shot in Massachusetts, take a closer look at the armoire in that one bedroom scene or maybe the desk in the main character’s office. Either may soon appear at a neighborhood Goodwill – a bit of Hollywood glam for a thrift store price.
Be forewarned, though: If you pick a piece with some silver screen status, don’t expect to get so much as a wink or a nod from the Goodwill store clerk. They’re not allowed to tell you – and may not know – about its provenance.

But just consider the options, as provided by the Boston Globe’s Names columnist Meredith Goldstein: Ben Affleck’s film “The Town,’’ “Knight & Day’’ with Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz, “Grown Ups’’ with Adam Sandler and David Spade, and “The Company Men’’ with Affleck, Kevin Costner, and Tommy Lee Jones all have filmed here in the last year.

The Goodwill guy in-the-know is Wayne Viens, manager of the outlet store on Harrison Avenue, where the charity Morgan Memorial Goodwill Industries has its local offices. He’s the man with the Hollywood connection – and he’s keeping mum.

“One of my friends is a major set dresser,’’ Viens said, referring to the job of managing on-screen furnishings and other objects for movie production designers. “His first big movie was ‘Good Will Hunting,’ and he’s pretty much in the biz now.’’

The pal donates anonymously, however, so Viens can’t reveal which major motion pictures his stuff is from. But shipments regularly come his way, often neatly packed in 40-foot-long trailers. Viens then doles the items out to area thrift shops. The proceeds help Goodwill to finance job training classes and other aid programs.

“For the most part, it’s housewares. I’ve never really seen clothes. We get a lot of books,’’ Viens said. “The last two loads – they did an apartment, they did a summer house – they donated a bunch of stuff.’’

Remember that armoire and desk mentioned earlier? Goodwill spokesman James Harder says shoppers might want to check them out in the organization’s new store in Jamaica Plain. The pieces – from a movie recently shot in the city – are being auctioned today in an attempt to drum up interest in some of the nicer items donated to the Goodwill. Bids will be taken until the store closes at 8 p.m. today.

No matter what items sell for, Viens said, the star-studded donations have helped the Goodwill’s bottom line.

“I couldn’t give you a dollar figure on what it does for us,’’ Viens said. “But it’s definitely a shot in the arm.’’

Even more fun, he said, is sitting in a theater, watching a film, and realizing, “Oh yeah, I remember that table.’’

Erin Ailworth can be reached at eailworth@globe.com.

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