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Goodwill Finds: Clothes, Household, and Outlet

Updated on January 16, 2018
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Cynthia is a digital marketer, writer, and artist. She writes about a variety of topics, especially digital marketing, languages & culture.

Confessions From a Goodwill Junkie

I love name-brand clothing. The Gap, Express, Limited, Chadwick's...you know, those department stores that feature stylish clothing that also tell the world that you have good taste.

I have a confession to make: I don't like spending a lot of money on clothes. I prefer to spend it on things like skiing or mountain biking or otherwise active quality family time. I still like to look good, though. Every so often, I sneak off to see my secret pal, Goodwill. She is a steady companion to my wardrobe fetishes. I get the thrill of the hunt to find a piece of clothing that jives with my style and tastes, not to mention a lot of other cool things.

Some of my recent Goodwill finds.
Some of my recent Goodwill finds. | Source

How Often Do You Shop at Goodwill?

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Why I Am So Obsessed

  • It's very wallet-friendly - Before I had ever gone to Goodwill, I'd heard rumors that they had great deals. Upon arriving at my neighborhood store, I started going through the racks and found...a beautiful wool Gap sweater. Could it be? And how much? $3.50? It still had the tags on it! I began to search more, a slight fever coming over me. Another wool sweater with frilly edges. The manufacturer's name I didn't recognize, but guessing by the touch and feel, I could tell I'd found another quality sweater. I was in heaven. For $7, I'd found two items I would covet at a department store.
  • Most of the clothing is gently used - Sure, there are some worn-out items on the racks. But, for the most part you can find clothes that are gently used and some that still have tags on them.
  • Thrill of the hunt - I love finding incredible deals at rock-bottom prices. Though Goodwill prices are already low, I still love combing through the racks and looking for that perfect shirt or skirt that no one else has found yet.
  • It's Green - Buying recycled clothing means that I helped keep clothes out of the landfill. Typical US consumers throw away 68 pounds of clothing each year. Only 10% of clothes purchased are recycled clothing. I aim to help that number get higher.
  • Lots of stylish clothing - People often get rid of clothing that were gifts they didn't like, clothes they outgrew, and clothes they purchased but never wore. This means it's pretty easy to find stylish clothing at Goodwill that is new or near-new.
  • It supports the local community - There's nothing I love more than giving back to my community, especially economically. By supporting Goodwill, I know I am supporting local jobs and a locally-run business. You can't beat that!
  • Find maternity clothes - New maternity clothes are expensive and if you're pregnant, you're only going to wear them a few months. Goodwill often has a plethora of quality maternity clothing for a few dollars per article.
  • You can "re-donate" - When you get tired of an article of clothing, you can give it back to Goodwill, as long as it's still in good shape. You complete the recycle-cycle! You recycle clothing, reduce what goes to the landfill and reuse items. It feels great to do this!
  • You won't look like anyone else - Because clothing from Goodwill comes from consumers everywhere, the variety of clothing on the racks supercedes any other store I've ever been to. That means you're likely to find items that few other people may have. We've all had those experiences: you find a cute shirt on the sale rack of a department store. When you show up to work or another social function, however, you look like a twin because someone else is wearing that same cute shirt! You can avoid that problem by utilizing the sheer variation of clothing at Goodwill.
  • It's not disgusting - Some people are turned off by the fact that you're "wearing someone else's clothes". Yes, well, that may be true. A little bleach, borax and baking soda all have a way of making clothes gleam and shine brightly, though. Plus, you're not buying underwear or socks (at least I hope not!). I must say, however, that I often find clothes with the price tags still attached. In other words, I find lots of new and never-used clothing.

So, I am rather obsessed with my Goodwill finds. But, believe it or not, there's more!

Goodwill Outlet

If there are any items in Goodwill stores for six weeks or longer, they get pulled from the racks and workers send them to the Outlet. Not all areas have these outlet stores, but you're in for a treat if you do have one.

The Outlet has movable bins into which anything and everything gets piled. Workers generally try to keep the same sorts of items in each bin to make browsing easier. Thus you have bins geared toward household, books, women's clothing, men's clothing, children's clothing, etc.

But, with people digging through the bins, clothing items invariably end up in household bins. It's all right, though. It just adds to the thrill of the hunt.

When you gather items from the bins to purchase, the Outlet charges by the pound at the checkout. You put your items on the scale and the price comes up on the screen. These items are at steep discounts, too.

I recently filled a basket - yes, filled a shopping basket - with things like silk place mats, a new Swissgear backpack, a beautiful tablecloth, a new purse, leather boots, brass switch plates, a new pair of jeans by New York & Company, greeting cards, a little red wicker basket, a new toiletry bag with a convenient hanger, and a few other items. The grand total was $16.57. My home is now furnished with lots of new or gently used items at a fraction of the retail cost.

Do you see why I am obsessed?

Shopping Tips to Get the Good Finds

When looking for quality finds, follow these guidelines:

  • Shop during the week. Many people drop off their donations on the weekends, so it may take a few days to roll everything out.
  • Be willing to comb through the racks. That beautiful sweater can easily get buried under new donations. Allow yourself half-an-hour to an hour to adequately go through the racks to find treasured items.
  • Try different stores. My town has three Goodwill stores and an Outlet. One store always has better women's selections than the others. I find more men's items at the West store than at any other Goodwill store in town.
  • Certain times of the year are better than others for finding great items. The end of January can be a good time because people are tending to their New Year's resolutions to clean or organize and thus they're getting rid of their stuff. March and April are good because people are spring cleaning. July is good because people are getting rid of all their warm clothes and summer clothes they no longer want. October is good because people are breaking out their fall/winter items and clearing out the closets.

© 2011 Cynthia Calhoun

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