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Goodwill Finds: Clothes, Household, and Outlet

Updated on May 14, 2014

Confessions From a Goodwill Junkie

I love name-brand clothing. The Gap, Express, Limited, Chadwick' 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.

Related Hubs

Do you need to brush up on the rules for thrift shopping? Click over to this hub to find out.

The Salvation Army has great deals, too. Try Using Salvation Thrift Stores to Buy Things.

The hub on Saving Money on Your Clothing Needs by Bargain Shopping and More is really useful! It's got great ideas on staying within your budget and still locating great finds.

Since I live in Western North Carolina, I thought it would be great to include the hub on Western NC Consignment Shops and Thrift Shops.

© 2011 Cynthia Sageleaf


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    • cclitgirl profile image

      Cynthia Sageleaf 4 years ago from Western NC

      SRae - I love these stores because you can find "new" stuff as well as vintage items. You never know what you're going to find on any shopping trip. :) Thank you for much for stopping by!

    • SRae profile image

      Shelia Wadsworth 4 years ago from Central Pennsylvania

      You really can get some good deals at these places! I prefer the local Goodwill or Salvation Army stores. Our American Rescue Workers store is a bit on the high side though so i avoid that store. With these tight times, having stores like this is beneficial. Nice hub!

    • cclitgirl profile image

      Cynthia Sageleaf 4 years ago from Western NC

      Mvillecat - indeed - that is one of the reasons I like these places so much. Even if you're not all that into the recycled clothing, these places help disadvantaged individuals and do so much to help educate and employ so many people. :)

      Stephanieb27 - That's great! I didn't grow up going to Goodwill and only discovered it in the last 5 years but now, I go regularly. :)

    • stephanieb27 profile image

      stephanieb27 4 years ago from United States

      I only started shopping at Goodwill a few months ago. I agree with you, the hunt, the find, everything about shopping there is exciting!!! Their prices are the icing on the cake!

    • mvillecat profile image

      Catherine Dean 4 years ago from Milledgeville, Georgia

      My husband and I often visit Goodwill and Salvation Army. Both do an incredible service to communities.

    • cclitgirl profile image

      Cynthia Sageleaf 5 years ago from Western NC

      Alifeofdesign - indeed! Can I tell you how many books and stuff for crafting I have found at Goodwill? Hehe. It's a treasure trove! LOL. Thank you for coming by!

    • alifeofdesign profile image

      Graham Gifford 5 years ago from New Hamphire

      One of my most favorite places to visit!! For anyone that hasn't yet discovered the wonder of shopping at the Goodwill, you have certainly listed the many benefits! I'm a huge crafter and for all those fellow crafters out there, the Goodwill is fabulous. I also get many books there.


    • cclitgirl profile image

      Cynthia Sageleaf 5 years ago from Western NC

      Field Of Flowers - I love it, too. I can't believe some of the stuff I have found - if you're just willing to comb through the racks. Thanks for stopping by and for your kind words!

    • Field-Of-Flowers profile image

      Field-Of-Flowers 5 years ago from Midwest, USA

      I also like going to GoodWill and thrift stores to find a good bargain. It may take a little bit of time going through the racks, but when you find a good deal, it's worth it. I've found quite a few good ones over the years. A great hub with great info. Thanks for sharing it with us and happy bargain hunting!

    • cclitgirl profile image

      Cynthia Sageleaf 5 years ago from Western NC

      Green Art - I didn't grow up shopping at thrift stores, but once I did, whoa! It was like a whole new world opened up to me. Yes, now I try to find EVERYTHING there: books, home décor, clothes, even gifts - I can find so many new items, still in boxes. Hehe. Thank you so much for your feedback.

    • Green Art profile image

      Green Art 5 years ago

      I've donated and shopped at Goodwill for years and have found great deals on clothing, furniture, books, toys and home décor. The selection is great and always changing as donations come in. I drop by the one in my area at least once a month to see what's new. Voted Up and Useful!

    • cclitgirl profile image

      Cynthia Sageleaf 5 years ago from Western NC

      Amanda - indeed! Yeah, if you can find the undies in original packaging, then yes, I go for it, too. :) Some might get creeped out, but it's nothing some borax and/or a little bleach won't fix. LOL. Thank you for stopping by. Cheers!

    • Amanda Storm profile image

      Amanda Storm 5 years ago

      Yes, thrift stores are great. I buy almost everything I wear (as you say not used socks or underwear but sometimes you can buy new ones still in the original manufacturer's packaging!) at thrift stores like Goodwill and no one seems to know it unless I tell them.

      I suppose there are people who might be "creeped out" or "disgusted" by the idea of used clothes, which given my economic bracket was something I grew up with, but in the economic climate of today I suspect more and more people might reconsider when they think about it.

    • cclitgirl profile image

      Cynthia Sageleaf 5 years ago from Western NC

      ElleBee - haha, your secret is safe with me! Indeed, it pays to "shop around" for good deals. :) Yeah, there are definitely differences at each store I go to, so I have to go to all of them! Haha. Thanks for stopping by!

      Slackermom - I do the same! I love your tip about getting to know a shopaholic - not only for the stuff they might give away, but because they might also help at the bargaining table. :) Thanks for coming by!

    • slackermom profile image

      Lisa Palmer 5 years ago from Attapulgus GA

      I absolutely love Goodwill, Salvation Army, yard sales, etc. I clothe myself and my kids from these sources. Another valuable source, become friends with a shopaholic- I have a friend who loves to shop but usually gives away a lot of her loot without using it.

    • profile image

      ElleBee 5 years ago

      Great tips! The point about shopping around and visiting different stores is definitely key!! I manage a small non-profit thrift store but also visit many other thrifts myself (just don't tell my boss!) and I've definitely noticed as you said that different stores specialize in different items or have different price points. For example, I work in a community where many of the women wear skirts for religious reasons. That means my store always keeps lots of skirts in stock, but it also means our women's jeans and pants are about 1/3 the price of what they are at the Goodwill in the next town because I need to keep them moving!

    • cclitgirl profile image

      Cynthia Sageleaf 5 years ago from Western NC

      Bill - nice interview with CloudExplorer! Anyway, yes, furniture is *the best* when you find it and can "recycle" it. :) Life is indeed good when you keep things cheap. Haha, I think we're both masters at it.

      Peggy W - I do the same! It's fun and it's so cool knowing it's a whole "cycle." You also never know when you'll come across something that is...priceless - like a Picasso. Haha.

      Bridalletter - Thank you so much! Yes, I'm definitely a thrift store addict myself. :)

    • bridalletter profile image

      Brenda Kyle 5 years ago from Blue Springs, Missouri, USA

      I didn't know they had outlet stores! now i have to see if we have any. That is a totally cool. Love thrift stores, great hub.

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 5 years ago from Houston, Texas

      We donate lots of our clothing and house goods to charities and I have also found some bargains by shopping at some of these places. What I truly like is that the proceeds go to help whatever the cause is...and things get recycled. It is a win-win for everyone! Now...for that next Picasso...I will keep my eyes open. Ha! Up votes and sharing.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      LOL...our dogs own the house, so we have to have used furniture....ours came free from garage sales believe it or not. Life is good when you are cheap. LOL

    • cclitgirl profile image

      Cynthia Sageleaf 5 years ago from Western NC

      Well, BB, great minds think alike! :D You got a North Face jacket for $7?!? You lucky duck! I want to find one of those! LOL. Really, though, I've furnished like ALL of my house with Goodwill/garage sale/auction finds and it's awesome! Plus, when you have furniture that is "used," you don't worry if it's perfect and you're more willing to let dogs and cats and parrots sit on it. Yeah, that happens in my house. LOL.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      I always get my winter clothing at Goodwill, and I get it in the summer when nobody wants their winter clothes. I am still wearing a North Face jacket that cost me $7, and I've had it for five years. There are some great deals out there lil' Sis!

      Great hub; you are speaking my language!

    • cclitgirl profile image

      Cynthia Sageleaf 5 years ago from Western NC

      Tammy - great minds think alike! I have furnished my house with Goodwill and garage sale finds. LOL. I'm totally thrilled that you found this and can re-sell it for so much! You lucky duck! Thanks so much for coming by!

      Simplysmartmom - I am addicted to finding good deals. It is the "thrill of the hunt" that keeps me "hunting" haha. Yes, I do love my brand-name clothes and it's super fun when you find them with the tags still on. Thanks so much!

      Kelley - thank you for your feedback! It's fun to find these treasure for sure! :)

    • profile image

      kelleyward 5 years ago

      You inspire me. I'm trying to be more frugal thanks for all the tips. Voted up, useful, and shared! Kelley

    • simplysmartmom profile image

      simplysmartmom 5 years ago from North Carolina

      Super hub! We are with you on this!! My daughter has also inherited my love of a good deal - she's found that she can get more clothes by shopping at Goodwill instead of the mall. And often she can find the brand name clothes that she wants (the ones I could never afford to buy her new). Thanks for the great article!

    • tammyswallow profile image

      Tammy 5 years ago from North Carolina

      I am a thrift store junkie too. I have found so many treasures from designer purses to antiques for resale. Last week I found a gorgeous decorator bird cage. I got it for $3.00. These are selling on Etsy and Ebay for $70. I can make money off of it without even repainting it. I love it. This is a fun hub.

    • cclitgirl profile image

      Cynthia Sageleaf 5 years ago from Western NC

      Austinstar - really!? A signed Picasso?!? I would DIE for a signed Picasso - he's one of my all time favorite artists. Wow. If I ever thought that I WOULDN'T thrift store shop, you just made me love it about 1000 times more. I'm at the beach right now (which is why it took a little while to respond to you, hehe) and my husband and I already have the beach thrift stores on our radar. I just can't help myself. Ha!

    • Austinstar profile image

      Lela 5 years ago from Somewhere in the universe

      Excellent green topic hub. Someone just recently found a signed Picasso at a thrift store. He's happy he shopped there for sure.

    • cclitgirl profile image

      Cynthia Sageleaf 5 years ago from Western NC

      I love your comment phdast7. I have room-size rugs, too, but we got them from a home remodel for free! I love finding treasures for fractions of the price. Even my friends who don't shop Goodwill often admire my eye for finding great deals. :) Thanks so much for reading and stopping by! :)

    • phdast7 profile image

      Theresa Ast 5 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      Great Hub.. I shopped at Good Will out of necessity when my children were young, but now I shop there by choice even though I don't need to. Just as one small example I have covered the floors in my house with barely worn (but once very expensive) oriental rugs, something I could never have done if I were buying them brand new. I have seven gorgeous rugs (different patterns and colors) for the price of one new rug and a little patience on my part. Thanks for spreading the word. :)

    • cclitgirl profile image

      Cynthia Sageleaf 5 years ago from Western NC

      alocsin, my respect for you grows everyday. Thanks, buddy. You're *AWESOME* :)

    • alocsin profile image

      alocsin 5 years ago from Orange County, CA

      You're preaching to the choir here. Love Goodwill and other thrift stores. Voting this Up and Useful. Thanks for SHARING.

    • cclitgirl profile image

      Cynthia Sageleaf 5 years ago from Western NC

      Thanks, Serena! I appreciate the votes and for your stopping by! :)

    • profile image

      Serena Gabriel 5 years ago

      I'm with you!

      Accolades and a vote up!

    • cclitgirl profile image

      Cynthia Sageleaf 5 years ago from Western NC

      Thanks, Europwalker. I LOVE saving money at Goodwill..and consignment shops...and the Salvation Army...oy vey. I'm a junkie. :D

      Rachel - I LOVE it when I find original tags on things. That's when I really know I'm getting a great deal because it's "new", but without the "new" prices. :)

    • Rachel Richmond profile image

      Rachel Richmond 5 years ago from California

      And this is why I started shopping at Goodwill/ Thrift stores, gently used - good prices (some w/ org. tags) and earth friendly. Awesome hub.

    • europewalker profile image

      europewalker 5 years ago

      Informative hub. There are some great finds at Goodwill.It certainly is one way to save money )

    • cclitgirl profile image

      Cynthia Sageleaf 5 years ago from Western NC

      Thanks, Kara. I have found some really cool stuff! I love it especially when it's "new" - with tags or in the package. That's the best. :) Thanks for stopping by.

    • Kara Studstill profile image

      Kara Studstill 5 years ago

      Loved this, so glad to see I'm not the only one that likes vintage.