Everything I know about Goodwill

I don’t consider myself a goodwill expert by any stretch of the imagination, but I do shop there frequently enough to have learned a few tricks of the trade. Of course, this is all based on my own personal experience with the Goodwills in my area. Your Goodwill may operate a little differently.

If you browse Goodwill frequently you can actually find some pretty great stuff there. You have to be persistent though and hit the store often.

Also, all Goodwills are NOT created equal. Shop all the Goodwills in your area until you learn which ones are better and which ones to avoid. Some have better prices than others, some have better stuff. Some carry more furniture while others tend to have more shoes and clothing. Each Goodwill seems to be it’s own little entity.

You do tend to find better stuff at Goodwills in more expensive areas of town, but not necessarily! A Goodwill employee once told me that just because it’s donated to a specific location does not mean it will hit those shelves. Goodwill likes to mix up their stores and send items all over town. I don’t know if there’s rhyme to their reasoning or if it’s totally random.

Also, this is probably useless information, but Goodwill employees are not allowed to shop at their own store location, even off the clock. This way if they see something awesome they can’t snatch it up before a regular shopper has the opportunity to snag it.

When I first moved back to Austin I visited all the Goodwills in my area at least a few times each so that I could get a feel for each store location. I can pretty much tell you which stores to avoid and which ones are worth the trip. When you are shopping at Goodwill, visit a lot of different ones until you know which ones are worth the effort.

I’ve figured out that there’s one Goodwill near me that purchases all of Target’s “salvage” from them, then re-sells it for pretty cheap.

An employee at that Goodwill told me that Goodwill purchases the Salvage from Target by the container (huge bulk box) at a set price. Sometimes they will have really great stuff in there, other times it’s all junk. No matter what’s in the container, Goodwill pays a set price, and they get a pretty great deal on it allowing for pretty great deals to carry over to the customer.

What is Salvage anyway?

Salvage, at least for Target stuff at Goodwill, is anything that Target deems damaged or unable to sell. Sometimes the item is open or the package is damaged. Most of the time though, it’s all the leftover decor from the previous season that never sold on their own shelves. They have to get rid of it to make way for the new stuff.

I have loads of decor in my home that was purchased at Goodwill as part of Target’s “Salvage” container. I found this lamp and separate shade at Goodwill – brand new “salvage” from Target. I scored the lamp for $10 and the shade for $3!

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Then, as luck would have it, I found a 2nd lamp at Goodwill the following week! They were out of shades, but in a rare twist of fate I stumbled upon a 2nd matching shade at my local Target on clearance for $6.

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The two matching lamps with shades cost me less than $30 total. For BOTH! And they are BRAND-SPANKIN-NEW!

They have since moved to my bedroom (I’ll show you soon, promise!).

I also was able to grab this large down filled pillow from Goodwill “salvage”. I paid about $3 for it. It was brand-new with the tags still attached.

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The reason it was deemed salvage is because the stitching had come undone in one spot on the pillow cover. I was able to stitch it up in just a few minutes. It’s now one of our favorites, and certainly most comfortable pillow on our couch.

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Remember that King-Sized white duvet I found for $10 at Goodwill?

Brand-new with tags from Target salvage. The cardboard sleeve around the packaging was torn so it wasn’t worthy to sit on the shelves at Target anymore.

If you want to know if a Goodwill near you receives Salvage from any stores, call them and ask! And if they say yes, find out which store the salvage is from and also what day the salvage arrives each week. For my store, the Target salvage is stocked on Wednesday morning, so I try to hit up Goodwill Wednesday afternoon or Thursday morning.

Goodwill also has tons of other great stuff that isn’t salvage – it’s just regular ol’ basic stuff people have donated. You have to dig to find the good stuff.

One suggestion I have for you is to put your cash or credit card in your pocket and leave your purse in the car. That way you aren’t fighting with a purse or bag while you are “digging” through the shelves. *edited to add: a commenter pointed out that this might not be the smartest idea. Maybe you should leave your purse at home instead!

Often the items are stuffed to the brim on the shelves. Get in there and move stuff around! Look under platters and boxes. And especially look behind everything! I’ve known of people “hiding” good stuff so they can come back later to get it, so squat down and look behind all the junk on those bottom shelves!

One of my luckiest and most favorite scores at Goodwill are these two Sand Timers. (These are pictured before I windex’d them. They are both perfectly clear now that they are clean.)

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I actually found them together on the same day hidden behind a few large items. They were only $2 each if you can believe it! What makes them an awesome find (besides the price) is that Sand Timers are a popular decorating item right now! Pottery Barn and Ballards think sand timers are hot this season.

My daughter went coo-coo for Cocoa Puffs over this little basket. It is the perfect size Laundry Hamper for her American Girl doll. It rang up at $1. I also found a little rocking chair last week for $1.50.

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This cute little green dish was only a few bucks and is chip free! I love the color, that’s why I scooped it up.

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This gross looking dish was a diamond in the rough. I almost didn’t even pick it up because it was nasty!

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I’m glad I did though! Read what store this dish is from:

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Because of the name (Pottery Barn) I knew it was probably real silver and could be cleaned up pretty easily. I paid $5 for it (more than I usually will pay, but because it’s from Pottery Barn I forked over a few extra bucks), took it home, and gave it a good buffing with some silver cleaner.

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After about 15 minutes of buffing it now looks almost brand spankin’ new.

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These two spice racks had me almost jumping up and down. The jars are heavy and are glass, and the lids are a thick metal. Plus the stands themselves are weighted and excellent quality. Getting the spices out was a huge chore, but for only $6 for both racks (and all the jars) it was worth the hassle.

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I’ll give you an update soon with pictures, but the spice racks now sit on my desk and house little beads and crafty supplies. You can actually see them behind my Silhouette machine on the desk (under the hutch) in this picture from our office switch post.

One thing I love about shopping Goodwill is the uniqueness of some of their decor. If you like random quirky stuff, you will probably find a more random selection at Goodwill than at any regular store.

I’m drawn to weird stuff, mainly because I like to be unique and have things that you wouldn’t expect mainstream America to own. They are great conversation pieces and in a world full of trends and popularity, I like to feel like I have my own style.

These either-love-them-or-detest-them Animal Heads are all from Goodwill. I washed them and gave them all a quick coat of spray paint.

As is this adorable little Buda (perched on top of my FIRE stand I made two years ago – I still adore this simple easy DIY stand).

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Am I Buddhist? Nope. But this little guy was just too cute not to buy!

You really can’t go wrong with a wine bottle that looks like it got run over by a truck.

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I had no idea what I’d use it for, but it was weird and random so I just had to have it. I’ve later learned that people make these and use them as cheese platters. Interesting! I paid $1.50.

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This last item is actually not from Goodwill but from a garage sale a neighbor of mine was having. She sold me this cute little Banana dresser for only $7. I was so excited because it looks brand-new. I was even more excited when I saw the same dresser at Target (it’s still there for sale if you want one) for $65! My neighbor could have RETURNED the dresser and received a $65 credit, but instead I was able to snatch it up from her for only $7. What a steal!!

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I hope I’ve been able to help give you some good pointers about shopping Goodwill. It really is an experience all on its own.

Oh, one more tip. I’ve never actually done this but my sister SWEARS BY IT. She found a Goodwill Outlet Store. Basically it’s a Goodwill for all the crap that no one wanted at the regular goodwill.

At the Goodwill Outlet they sell stuff by the pound! Isn’t that random? My sister will go down there (with several hours to spare) and will literally spend 3 hours sifting through heaps and heaps of clothes. She always comes home with bags full of almost brand new NAME-BRAND clothing for around 50-65 cents an item.

She’s found Banana Republic, GAP, American Eagle, Aeropostale, Abercrombie, Hollister, etc, some still with the original tags. She brought home a Roxy Quicksilver sheet set a few weeks ago! The only drawback to going to the outlet is that you really have to dig and dig and dig to find the good stuff.

She says the reason there are awesome clothes there is because sometimes the employees at the regular store will overprice something, which causes no one to purchase it. Instead of marking these items down, once an item has sat in a store for a certain amount of time it automatically gets shipped to the Outlet.

One last pointer… I know this is getting really long. Sorry! Some locations will have half-off day. If your location does, go there the night before, just before closing and scout out the store. If there’s something you want to try to score for half-off get there at least 30 minutes before opening the next morning and get in line! Hopefully you’ll get lucky!

So, do you have any tips for shopping Goodwill? What experiences have you had while thrifting at Goodwill? The Good and the Bad! Share ’em all!

PS – I keep forgetting to tell you this! I’m headed to Blissdom and Haven conferences this year. I hope to see you there!

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Comments

  1. I have those spice racks too! I waited what felt like FOREVER for them to clearance down to $20 before I bought them. One is for my spices, the other is for glitter!

  2. It’s been ages since I’ve been Goodwill hopping.

    You’ll have to let me know which GW you found the Target stuff at! 😉

  3. I was so excited when I saw your post. Almost as excited as the first time I walked in our Habitat for Humanity store. I couldn’t believe what people donated. This particular one had so much furniture and appliances. I told my husband I will never “shop new” again. Apparently, people buy mansions that come furnished and just get rid of all of the goodies in the house, including some huge rugs. When I went upstairs I had to control myself. There were so many glasses and tea cups, bowls and brand new off-season scented candles I almost fell over. The last time we went there I purchase a computer desk, 2 office desks, a sleeper sofa and a rather antique looking dresser for the kids room. One of the drawers wouldn’t roll smoothly so I took it off, straighten the metal guide, and voila! I love it!

  4. These are great tips! Our area goodwill (Northern VA) gives you a 20% off coupon each time you donate. And that’s 20% off your entire purchase! You get the coupon even if you only donate one item. I’m always trying to declutter anyway, but now I keep a few donations in the car so I can donate first and then get a coupon before heading into the store. We also have an outlet, but I haven’t checked it out yet. Now I’ll have to!
    My best find was a vintage typewriter from 1948 for only $6!! I jumped up and down and ran to the register and quick as I could. It made an awesome present to my bestie for Christmas. 🙂

  5. OMGSH Allison! I didn’t realize you were in Austin!! I am too!! (well, north of.. but close enough!!) What GW’s do you shop at?! These are some GREAT finds!!! 🙂 (and a super post!!)

  6. I totally agree with you, mine has lots of target stuff too. Too funny, those animal heads that you bought, I had the cow in my kitchen the first time they were popular! lol

  7. Hey there! My hubby and I live in Austin Texas and my friend took me to a great Goodwill outlet a while back. For the life of me I can;t recall where it is and she moved back to Ne Mexico. 🙁 I was wondering if you could maybe tell me what stores you like best here and which ones we should skip. My husband and I have actually got a bunch of donating to do and it would be awesome if we could go to some great ones to check out a few decor items ^^

  8. I LOVE goodwill, I have three very close to me that I frequent constantly, and then another 4-5 that are a little bit further out that I will go to on occasion. I need to find out where the Outlets are because I would LOVE to go! I am from PA so I have no idea if there is even one anywhere nearby.

  9. YOU. You are the one who bought those sand timers that I strategically hid, and was coming back for. I was mad for weeks. I can’t believe I see them on your blog right now. Haha, kidding! Kind of a lame joke, I know, but I hope I gave you a scare. I don’t even live in Austin 🙂 Anyway, I loved reading this post. You had a lot of really fun tips! And I always love seeing pictures of the things that others buy while thrifting! Thanks!!!

  10. I guess we all have a great Goodwill story and I am not to be left out telling mine… I went into Goodwill one day just to browse to see what I could find. Right there front row was a group (4) of wrought iron dining room chairs with newly upholstered seats in exactly the color of my dining room (really!). The tag on the chairs read “four (4) wrought iron dining room chairs @ $20.00 each.” I was eager to pay for the chairs. They were perfect for me: Heavy, sturdy, just the right color and style, and there were four (4) of them. Just right. I had been looking for thrift chairs for the dining room cause I needed a chair change. I took the tag to the cash register to pay. The lady at the register totaled my purchases and told me that I owed $20.00 total, including tax. I talked to her and advised that the tag read $20.00 each which surely meant $20.00 each chair. She looked at me and said (I’m serious, she said this to me!), “Look lady, do you want the chairs or not?” I told her that I certainly did want the chairs.” I paid her what she asked me for and she offered to get someone to load the chairs in my vehicle. Later, when I remembered, I looked at the receipt. She had not only charged me $20.00 for all four chairs but had also given me a 25% discount (it was discount day at this store). Seriously! I am still happy about my Goodwill chairs purchase!

  11. I live in Cedar Park and have found some good items in our local GW. But I have never noticed them having a 1/2 off day. I do find that their items seem to be getting a little more pricier. I would love to know where you shop, if you want to share 😉

  12. We live in a small town… our nearest GW is about 15 miles away and has only been open about a year. I find that I have to really watch the prices… They charged 19.99 for a USED blanket exactly like one I bought ne at Costco for the same price! Other times, the prices are okay… nothing really great though. They do have colored tags and one color is 1/2 price… the color changes weekly. It’s a nice store, clean and well kept, but I get better prices from our ‘local’ thrift stores…

  13. Allison,

    I have crappy Good Wills around here. The prices have become ridiculous; you almost need to go ahead and buy new for just a couple of dollars difference. The best one was when we lived in Cheyenne, WY and they recieved the Target rejects. Talk about super cheap holiday decorations and things like socks and underware. And the store was CLEAN; not something you find very often. Oh, well. I, also, wanted to tell you that the melted bottle can also be used as a spoon rest on your stove top. I love your blog and I thought I had commented to you before but maybe not. Anyhow, I read you nearly every day.

    Maureen

  14. Allison,

    I forgot – Love the spice bottle idea for your beads. I’ll have to keep an eye out for these because they would look great in my someday craft room and could hold my sequins too.

    Maureen

    P.S. Wow, two comments in one day. Surprise!

  15. I love shopping at Goodwill, and I agree that some are better than others. In our areas, there are no discounts, coupons, mark downs, seniors, nothing. But I’ve found great buys. We always stop when we travel and are surprised at how different the stores can be. (I’m in VA.) My best buy was this summer when I purchased a Longaberger picnic basket, complete with liner, protecter, and that wooden insert for $3.50!

  16. I love Goodwill! I have 3 by my house and frequent them weekly! I will be at Haven too and can’t wait to meet you 🙂

  17. My two best goodwill buys (although not home decorating) was a brand new in box Cusinart Food Processor and a Gearbox Limited Edition Superman pedal car for my boys. The Cusinart was $3 at the ‘rich’ Goodwill. The Gearbox is a metal toy pedalcar that I got for $5. I had no idea what it was, i’d never heard of Gearbox toys before, and some older lady offered me $20 in the store if I gave it to her. It was tempting, but i’m glad I held onto it because Amazon has one for sale for $800. The nice thing about Gearbox is they go up in value, not down. I’m addicted to Goodwill!

  18. I had no idea about the salvage stuff! I’m going to call around today. This could be life-changing! Thanks!

  19. Man you got some great stuff, I have not been to goodwill in ages, probably a good thing, i have so much to get rid of already.

  20. A good day at a Goodwill is like a Treasure Hunt! You never know what you are going to find, but it is so find when you find the perfect thing at a great price! You’ve inspired me and I want to go! Those animal heads are so fun and unusual.

  21. Good tips! I recently found a Chantal teapot for $3- I checked on Amazon when I got home- they sell for $120 new! But I also find used dollar store items for $1 or more! I used to be an assistant manager at a thrift store (not Goodwill), and all our workers were volunteers- everyone has their own idea of what something is worth, so it’s impossible to be consistent when the merchandise is always different.
    One thing I have to disagree on, though, is about leaving your purse in the car. A couple of people had their cars broken into in our parking lot and their purses stolen. The police told us that thieves will watch women and if they don’t get out of their car with a purse, they will choose those cars to break into. Police actually suggested carrying a purse, even if you don’t need to.

  22. Oh, forgot to mention, I’ll be at Haven, too, and can’t wait to meet you! 🙂

  23. Love Goodwill. Haved scored so many great deals, my favorite being 35 pieces of mint-condition Homer Laughlin Blue Chateau for $15. Best tip: Don’t hesitate to buy something b/c you aren’t sure it works or will fit. You can return items (I always thought it was a final-sale sort of place, given the deals).

  24. These are some wonderful tips. I have been going to Goodwill stores for many, many years but these are some new and helpful tips. There is a surplus one where everything is weighted by the pound. The odd thing is that the employees leave everything in bins and a number of times throughout the day, they rotate out the bins. People literally bring chairs to sit and wait throughout the day on seeing what is inside those bins! As much as I love a good bargain, I dislike shoving and bickering even more, so I usually just look at what is out for the time being and make my escape ~ LOL!!

    XoXo,
    Kristal

  25. Your run over by a truck glass is actually a spoon rest from a local craft fair. We have at least 5 fairs where I live, that make them and they sell for around 15$. Also I don’t know if it’s in every area but Nampa, ID has a Goodwill store that you pay by the pound. It’s basically a throwaway store of items that either they just don’t want to take the time to inventory or they think won’t sell. I’ve been able to get all kinds of great stuff from marble slabs – old glass from before the 70’s. And since you pay by the pound for everything but books, shoes, and clothes you don’t spend a lot to get a TON!

  26. Ok, I need to make a trip to Goodwill TODAY! Not only to donate items, but to pick up some awesome ones like yours! Thanks for sharing, girl! 😉

  27. I’m a Pyrex collector so am hitting up my Goodwill regularily. Unfortunately, I think they’re catching on as their prices for Pyrex keep getting higher!

  28. @Heather: I live in Austin also and I believe the Goodwill outlet is down by the airport (you can search locations on GW website for outlet). I haven’t been, but I read another blog where they frequent outlets and they charge by the weight at outlets. Wear gloves because you’ll have to dig through bins to get the good stuff and you don’t know what’s in there.

    Alisson, where in Austin do you live? What stores do you find to be good? I live near Lakeway and often frequent that GW store. They do the Target salvage thing too and I’ve gotten a couple good deals on some toys, but noticed that they mark the prices slightly higher than the clearance tag from Target so I could have gotten a better deal if I actually got it from Target, but I suppose it’s better than full price retail. Love your finds! I haven’t been that lucky in the household department, but I usually focus on toys anyways. I haven’t been in a while, but am itching to go back now after your post. Thanks for sharing!

  29. I love what you got! ALSO the spice idea was Ingenious 🙂

    heidi
    chickhardware.blogspot.com

  30. I used to love Goodwill…even worked there as a teenager. Not sure if the not being able to shop the store you work at applies everywhere. I used to shop ours all the time. That was the best benefit of the job. Anyway, the Goodwill closest to me sucks big time. The grey goods (what they used to call target salvage) as priced ridiculously high and it’s not fun to shop there because it’s so expensive. I wrote a post about it here: http://holy-craft.blogspot.com/2011/03/goodwillis-it-too-expensive.html

    Looks like you have a good one. shop often and appreciate it!

  31. Thanks for the tips! I’m a terrible thrift shopper, but this info was definitely helpful! 🙂

  32. we are sooooo deprived!! we have no target no goodwill 🙁 only salvation army with used stuff you are so lucky

  33. I was just there today where my big score was a $5 2 foot tall fleur de lis sculpture thingy in black but rubbed to look shabby. Weird, but cool. While I was standing in line a lady in front of me gave me a 50% off coupon that was good for one item of clothing and I just happened to be buying a red Ann Taylor sweater for $7.99. She had a big wad of them and had gotten them out of the Greensheet. Not sure if you have those where you live, but wow! I’ll be picking those up when I see them for now on.

    You have found some great things!!!!

  34. My Goodwill is hit or miss too. Some days are great ( a whole bag of brand new Mud Pie Christmas goodies for $24 and 12 5-piece place settings of Lenox China for $31.00) and some are so-so. The prices do seem to be rising at the ones near me. But when you find a great deal…nothing feels better!

  35. Another good tip is if you shop for clothing do so off season. My favorite find was a brand name wetsuit for $3 on half price day regularly $90. My son was thrilled. The sales lady said to shop for winter in summer.

  36. I’m surprised I’ve never run into you at any of our Goodwills since I’m there all the time. I need to do another post on some of my recent scores.
    I plan to have a garage sale in the spring to unload some of my finds that I have no room for anymore! So if you’re interested, I’m in Leander . .

    My favorite Target Salvaged Goodwill find was my new in box works perfectly Keurig coffee machine. I got it for $20 and had to take it home to see if if worked and it’s been fine for 2 years now
    Gotta love Goodwill!

  37. ↑ Jennifer I am in the CP/Leander area. Would love to attend one of your sales.

  38. GW is the worst the of the thrift chains. Their prices are exhoribitant for a thrift store.

    The Target stuff at more then it was priced for clearance (on a regular basis) was the last straw for me.

  39. I would LOVE to find a Goodwill that has Target Salvage. I asked at one of our Goodwills (1 mile from a Target) and they looked at me like I was crazy 🙁

    You have found some great finds. I haven’t been so lucky at Goodwill, I usually do better at yardsales cause our Goodwill is very over-priced.

    Oh, and I will be at Haven too!! Can’t wait to meet you! 🙂

  40. You get some amazing stuff at your Goodwill. I have to admit I don’t go as often as I should. I always seem to wonder around and rarely end up with anything. Maybe now I will go with a different eye and perspective. Thanks for the post!

  41. Have you been to the Goodwill in Lakeway/Bee Caves? Is it worth the trip???

    I need to know which ones you go to so I can steer clear since you buy all of the best things!!! 😉

  42. Funny enough, I just donated about $1200 worth to the goodwill on 620. My in laws passed earlier this month and without room, I had plenty to donate. But thanks for all of the feed back, I had not bee to either of the goodwills or the salvation army you had mentioned, I will have to check them out ^^

  43. I recently moved to Austin & am an avid Goodwiller. Which location is your favorite (I live in Northern Austin, close to Pflugerville)?

  44. Fantastic finds! I love our Goodwill. I always find way too much stuff. Hope you’re having a grand evening. Toodles, Kathryn @TheDedicatedHouse

  45. I saw this post on Pinterest, so I thought I should come here to check it out more. I’m really upset that we lost our GW in my area in Pueblo, Colorado that also had the Target salvage. A couple years ago, the director was charged with felony theft for stealing from them. Then the next director also got charged for embezelling about 6 months later. Then they ended up closing two local Salvation Army stores without notice. We do have an ARC store here, but it’s HUGE and their prices are high because they discount one day a week for seniors and at the end of the month on everything but current colored tags. There is a New Horizons Thrift store that’s run by the Mennonites with funds going to help raise the prison babies in their care, but they overprice many things because they don’t know the local prices well enough to know what items are from the $ stores. We have some small stores run by local churches and another one that runs our local Freecycle. The people that run this store are the moderators, so they end up getting the stuff before they run it through the site, usually 24 hours later. Needless to say, many locals aren’t donating as much because of the problems, but there are still bargains to be found! I score a lot on our local Craig’s List and garage sales, as well as a regular flea market in town. Many people buy lots from the storage units and sell items for a song. Thanks so much for educating people on what you can get at a well-run GW!

  46. I will tell you my little secret. I go to GW and other thrift stores and buy old clothing with lace on it and then remove the lace and use it on my craft projects! lol It’s usually a lot cheaper than buying lace and sometimes the clothing is so old that the lace is actually vintage or antique! The best is getting a wedding dress that is full of french alecon lace and it only costs $20 or so! I also buy large dresses made out of material I like and use the material to make blouses and smaller dresses. I buy wooden items, like jewelry boxes, and sand them down and refinish them and sell them on etsy.com or ebay. I also look for teacups with matching saucers (hunting around usually is required to get a match). Those sell well on ebay but I also turn some of them into pin cushions and pin keeps. Also, old lamp shades can be remade, similar to what you did here. I would have just covered the original shade with material or painted it first and then covered with the burlap. I’ve been unemployed since the end of January and I have starting doing all this in an attempt to bring in more money than unemployment gives out until I find a new position. It would be nice to be able to do this full time if I could start getting more sales. Our store has colored price tags and each week they choose a color and items with those tags are half off. They also have half off days occasionally on weekends. You can to go their web site and it should tell you what color on what week and when the clearance days are. For example, here is that page for the Indianapolis, IN stores: http://www.goodwillindy.org/mod/shop/specials/#storewide

  47. HalleyComet says:

    Does ANYONE know WHAT Goodwill actually BENEFITS? I have been told everything from drug rehab to retail sales training and lots of in between stuff. Would love to know.

    Also–if you look on line you can find where ALL of the “Good Stuff” from both GW and the SA has gone to. They are now running on line sites where they “skim” off the cream and sell it often at seriously inflated prices with little description and worse pics.

    I am a re-seller of thrifted items and make my living doing this so I have my faves as far as thrifts goes. The local GW’s in the upstate NY area are–meh. They USED to be great places to find slightly better items than the SA (on average). Now they are Target Lite. At HIGHER prices than Target was charging! And their in-store prices have skyrocketed in the past few years. Selection has fallen off. Finding out how MUCH an item is is hard too so you have no clue what you might be spending! I used to find ski jackets (we live in a ski area) and other such items for a reasonable price but now they charge more than retail for some items. Even the one GW that does NOT do the Target stuff and is in a rather isolated town has gotten spendy.

    The SA also runs on line sales of what the managers feel are “prize” items. Some are actually good items but there is very little quality control and some Mgrs have NO clue how to tell if something is say a Coach bag or a knock off. And the SHIPPING!!!!!! They tend to charge a “Flat Rate” of around $15.00 for almost ANYTHING. Things I charge $3 to ship cost $15.00 there.

    Our local SA stores allow the employees to shop there (I know some do not) and some Mgrs have been caught “cherry picking”. They also have one day a week where the colored tags are all HALF PRICE with the “Incoming color of the day” tag NOT discounted. I hit them on that day mostly–we have a route!—and have scored some great deals for my family and of course my business. I have noticed way less in the homewares sections lately and nothing “good” there for awhile. Sigh. However when I can get leather brand name jackets for something like $7 and sell them for $125–I think that is a good day!

    My faves tho are the smaller local thrifts. We have one in our town in a historic building and I have scored vintage label-on denim for $3 that I sold for $400+; kids items for pennies for family or re-sale–an LL Bean complete snow suit (each piece retails for $85) for $5.00. Burberry tote for $1 that sold for over $100. Of course you have to EDUCATE yourself to SEE what is there and what will SELL and what CONDITION the item is in. Go look at a vintage clothing shop and SEE what they are offering if you don’t have this knowledge. Know your brands and the way they are made. And know what is selling (if buying to re-sell) NOW. Some items from places like Aero etc are fleeting and altho they cost the earth make sure your kids WANT them or they are so cheap it doesn’t matter if they won’t wear them because they are not of the moment.

    Some other “scores” at various places inc church sales–my FAVE!!!!—
    Complete set of Le Crueset for—$3
    Wet suits for pennies–what makes them so SPENDY??–that sell for over $100
    Ski suits for $5 that sell for $75 and up
    Full length leather “duster” coat for $3 on half price part of sale
    Jewelry that apparently no one ever looks at–14k; sterling; diamond watches.
    Designer brand names at a “Free Sale”–we asked if it was OK for us to come in at the end of the day and go thru items and if they minded if we sold any AFTER we picked stuff for family and friends. This particular person told me she didn’t care WHEN we showed up and that if it HELPED our family to be selling she was FINE with this. (Some thrifts now have signs up saying that you are not “allowed” to re-sell ANYTHING you get from them–illegal for one and kinda hard to enforce!) I got a free brand new with tags $400 British outdoor jacket and sold it for $250. Free leather boots that turned out to be some sort of rare brand (didn’t fit hubs) and sold THEM for over $100. Burberry items. Coach. Other spendy brands. You never know. Plus we outfit ourselves and the grand kids there too. And we go with a shopping list for others who can’t make it for some reason.

    I am handicapped so it takes a bit of strategy for me to heap clothing on my walker –now my grand daughter helps and often we have a pile by the register while we shop. I have had some–odd–encounters while doing this tho. Long BEFORE I was handicapped and long BEFORE I was actually selling I got to a church sale check out and some blue haired lady went berserk when she saw I had a–stone pig. Not ACTUALLY a pig! An old stoneware bottle that served as a hot water bottle for your bed or carriage trips. In any case this woman started SCREAMING that I was a “Dealer” and I was going to sell this for a million dollars! Um–no. Actually–the lovely stone pig is STILL here long after many many OTHER scores have wandered off to ebay-land or been donated or some kid has walked off with it!

    I made a point as my kids were growing up to make a complete set of all the good cookware and china and silverware they would need to “start out”–down to kitchen utensils and orange squeezers! So they ALL have what they need to get “started” when they moved out. They might not have been their favorite colors etc but until they acquired the things they WANTED they had Revereware pots; skillets; Le Crueset pieces; bake ware; iron ware; plates etc. My youngest just got married and bought a house and has been using these pieces since his Sophomore year of college. Saved him thousands vs new. And because I got to be “picky” they got great items from my years of sales.

    My kids now shop with me and buy and sell the things they find! And we of course rarely if ever buy new clothing and homewares.

    And–if all else fails—a good can of spray paint can even transform that T-shirt you thought your kid would loooove!!!!!

  48. I love your Blogs, you have really great ides. I do love your couch, it looks comfy. Where did you buy it ?

  49. hi, im an ex goodwill employee and we are definitely allowed to shop at our own goodwill store, we all do and i ended up with a lot of great things from my stint there. And this is not a new rule because I quit less than 6 months ago.
    Still have the employee handbook and everything, it is not company policy to not allow us to shop there.

  50. 1. Employees shopping where they work? I called one evening, after I drove home (1-1/2 hour drive) to see if a bedroom dresser was still there so that I could come back for it in the morning. The gal I talked to said she knew exactly which one I was talking about because she was thinking about getting it. We drove back the next morning (1-1/2 hours, right?) to get it – and when the store opened, there was a huge gap in the display area where it had been. Gone. $39..99. Now I know that I can pay for something and come back later to pick it up!

    2. Best deal? So many! I picked up, for $29.99 – my most expensive purchase ever at Goodwill, a signed carved marble art piece that is valued at $800. (Yeah – it was tipping my shopping cart so badly, I had to just check out.) For 49c I got another signed blown glass art piece.

    3. My most fun surprise purchase? I had given away my “Table Saw” – a plastic cake cutter shaped like a saw – at a wedding where the bride’s cake was shaped and decorated to look like a tree, with bird nest (and 2 love birds) and everything. I found a brand new one still in the package at Goodwill! Not expensive to re-order, but gosh… saved money cuz it was only 49c, and didn’t have to go online to re-order it.

    4. I found a Clarice Cliff ceramic piece at Goodwill. It’s not the art deco style that I wish I could have found, but still it is a piece of historic art and I’m happy to have it. And I didn’t have to pay much for it – I think it was $2.00 and that seemed high for what I thought it was until I saw the signature on the bottom.

    Those are just a few of the highlights. It’s a good thing that sometimes it doesn’t take much to make me happy about a purchase. 🙂 Oh the list could go on and on…

  51. I have seen roman numerals written with a chalk-like marker on electronics for sale at the goodwill. Is this how they tell how long stuff has sat on the shelves? Is it a daily, weekly, or monthly mark?

    • I shop goodwill all the time. It upsets be though because they started their own auction site so they pull all the good things. I would always find my Lilly Pulitzer dresses there and I never find them anymore since they found out they are designer. I heard that an Ebay seller had lost her list at one of the Goodwill stores of all of the designer name clothing. They passed it to all the Goodwills now they pull those brands and put them on their auction site. Kind of disappoints me since that was the only way I could afford the designer stuff. Once in awhile I will come across one but the price is very high.

  52. Karen Bowman says:

    We have a good will truck coming to town we are dontaing 50 boxes of clothes and 4 boxes of shoes. How do I get a reciepe for that stuff thanks

  53. Goodwill is an awesome store. I find all kinds of good stuff for little money. The Salvation Army has a store near the Goodwill in Litchfield, IL and we love stopping at both stores on a Saturday evening and rummaging until we find treasures and then we compare what we find. I find most of my Corporate office work clothes this way – nice blouses and little jackets to wear over them. I always figured out that my size 10 1/2 penny loafer shoes can also be found as men’s size 9 and they are even more comfortable. Recently I found a pair of new Rockport men’s penny loafers and they look totally unisex so you can’t tell I’m wearing a new pair of men’s Rockports for only $10!! These shoes cost over $80 new! The fun is in the hunt and we do it often!

  54. Goodwill used to be good until all the resellers showed up. That is why Goodwill has driven up their prices.
    I’ve been going to Goodwill for years and have seen this trend in the last 3 years. And the resellers are so rude when new merchandise comes out to the floor. Some people don’t have enough money to shop elsewhere, the resellers are stealing from these people.

  55. Ted S. Smith says:

    I think it really sucks that minimum wage Goodwill workers can’t buy at the store they work so hard at and get zero benefits for the work in return. I think it’s pretty greedy and self-centered that consumers would think this is an OK non-benefited miserly company policy. Most minimum wage workers subsist on second-hand threads to get by and can’t afford nor have the proper transportation to get to a Big Box store to buy. As well most are Spanish speaking and most likely raising a family – probably working other jobs too. For Pete Sake! I think a serious bargain hunter would step over a stroked out employee gyrating and lying on the floor just to get to a bargain across the isle, rather than help the poor victim. Do you really believe that you are more entitled to a bargain than a low-wage employee? I have both bought and donated plenty to the GW. I have often seen my donated items on their shelves and am fine with that. I am sorry you are so busy cramming your house full of your “bargains” that you begrudge a worker a cooking utensil or a pair of cleats for thier buddy child ball players.

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  57. Just went to a goodwill near st. Charles mo and was surprised at how much some of the Target surplus was. Then I was really shocked to hear one employee tell another one that since it is prom season none of their formals were the regular price of $12. One was marked $75. I remarked that it seems like you all have forgotten you are Goodwill. They get it for free!!! She didn’t agree but I made the comment that if stuff doesn’t sell, l’ll be buying it at the outlet store by the pound. Let’s hope they reconsider their pricing.

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