#983 Shopping At Goodwill Is Thrifty And Charitable

14 Nov

goodwill logo

Logo courtesy of Goodwill.

My mom is a Goodwill nut. She finally badgered me into becoming one too. Really everybody should be a Goodwill nut. Goodwill is a highly-rated charity that supports people with disabilities and other charitable initiatives by selling donated items. You can buy pretty much anything there at a great price.

Great (and surprising) bargain finds at Goodwill:

  • Baby and kids’ clothes: Most prices are $1.99 for baby and kids’ clothing. Some nicer items or items new with tags are a little more. The highest price I’ve seen is $7.99 for a Columbia snowsuit that looked National Geographic Arctic Expedition rated. Every four weeks stock is rotated so items go for ½ price, making baby and kids’ clothes that are four weeks on the shelf only $1.00! I usually buy the next size up, out-of-season clothes to get the best $1.00 deals. Most of the time I won’t buy anything unless it’s ½ price. I always go with name brand clothes because they are better constructed and use better quality fabric, which means they will last longer. Even though it’s a bargain, I still want to get the most mileage out of them. I regularly find Gymboree, Children’s Place, Baby Place, Carter’s and Janie and Jack items in excellent condition, never worn or new with tags. I’m also very picky about stains or wear, so I never buy anything that doesn’t pass a rigorous test. Even with all these stipulations, I always find something at Goodwill.
  • Pet items:
    goodwill pet supplies

    Pet supplies are some of the new and deeply discounted items available at Goodwill.

    The Goodwill I go to has a nice section of brand-new pet items for sale at similarly low prices to the donated items they sell. The kids’ toy section also has a huge selection of stuffed animals for $0.99, a great price for something that your pet will eventually destroy. Just launder before giving it to them if you’re worried about a used stuffed animal. But really, they’ve had their nose in a whole lot nastier places. Donated items also include a lot of pet times, so it’s easy to find used bowls, crates and beds that only need a clean before use.

  • Toys: Kids go through toys almost faster than clothes. They get bored of a toy. The toy breaks. Or they outgrow the toy. Stocking the playroom with toys at $15 to $40 retail is expensive, especially when toys at Goodwill sell for $0.99 – $2.99. As picky as I am about the clothes I buy at Goodwill, I’m even pickier about toys.
    goodwill toy bargain

    Only needed a quick wash…not bad for $2.99.

    I know they are going to get a lot of use and abuse, so they have to be in good condition and well made. Most of what I get looks barely used or just out of the box and works perfectly. Again, I go with name brands because of the quality of manufacture. Sometimes I totally strike out, but other times I score big. I can find almost-new Fisher price and Melissa and Doug toys on a regular basis. A good scrub at home to sanitize from previous grubby fingers and the toy is ready to go. If my daughter abandons the toy after only a few times playing with it, I’m not kicking myself for spending a lot. If she loves it, then I’m all the more pleased with the deal. If you’re worried about recalls, you can look up the item on the Consumer Product Safety Commission site with the numbers, country of manufacture and year stamped on the bottom of the toy. You can also find some brand new toys in the original packaging.

  • Kitchen items: You can stock your whole kitchen from Goodwill. I know because I’ve done it. Dishes, pots, pans, appliances, silverware…any kitchen item you can dream of is sitting in at Goodwill near you. Give it a good wash and you’re good to go. Some things are even new in the box. If you ever need a bread maker, there are always several on sale at Goodwill.

    goodwill kitchen section

    New and donated kitchen items cover all your kitchen needs.

  • Socks and underwear: Don’t be totally grossed out – they’re NEW! Along with new pet toys, the Goodwill I go to has brand new socks, underwear and bras. New in the package Hanes, Fruit of the Loom and other brands are marked down considerably. There are also new shoes, hats, gloves and scarves offered. No, I would not buy used underwear! Like I said, I’m pretty picky about quality. Plus I think it’s illegal.
  • Seasonal items and decor: Goodwill always has a nice selection of seasonal items like Christmas or Halloween decorations that are usually all new as well. It’s a good place to get your holiday cheer for less.

Hit-or-miss bargain finds at Goodwill:

  • Men’s and women’s clothing: This is probably what first comes to mind when thinking about Goodwill, but I find it’s the hardest to find something in these sections. Most prices are $4.99, or $2.50 for the  ½ price sale, so it’s worth a look if you have something in mind. I regularly see Banana Republic, Aeropostale, American Eagle and other brands. The challenge is finding the right size and style. I find the adult clothes are usually in less perfect condition than the kids clothes. If I find something nice, then the fit is off. But a great find is exhilarating. Learn to flip the racks quickly with an eye for fabrics and quality that stand out like silk and cashmere and designer brands. If you shop Goodwill often enough, you’ll get very good at immediately picking out the the 100% silk top from Ann Taylor versus the  polyester blend from Walmart.
  • Furniture: If you’re looking for a couch, look at Goodwill, but expect to see the couch your grandma had – hideous but uber-comfy. There are some great furniture deals but a lot of the furniture is pretty abused or in need of some love. But like all things at Goodwill, you never know if you’ll walk in on a mind-blowing find.

Don’t count on it bargain finds at Goodwill:

  • Shoes: I’ll be honest, for all my love of second-hand stuff, I’m totally grossed out by used shoes. The shoes at Goodwill are usually pretty beat up and clearly worn. Unless the store has new shoes (which they do!), I skip that section completely. One exception is kids shoes, which are often new and unworn. The only challenge is finding the right size.
  • Electronics: Unless you’re in need of VHS tapes, a teletype machine or answering machine, the electronics sections is full of out-dated tech that is mostly good for a laugh.

I’ll stop by Goodwill on a regular basis but make sure I have rules about spending there as well. My daughter can pick out a toy but it has to be $1.99 or less or I can’t buy any clothing item that is not ½ price or I have $3 in my wallet and that’s all I can spend. Even with bargain buys, you don’t want to mindlessly purchase items that are not part of your budget.

baby with goodwill toy find

Dad’s $2.99 Goodwill find was like new and retails for $40 new.

Other tips for Goodwill bargain shopping:

  • Go on the first day of the half price sale for that week. Check what day the sale starts every week and make that your day to go to your local Goodwill.
  • Check more than one Goodwill. As no two Goodwills are alike, if you’re looking for something in particular, it’s good to go to more than one Goodwill in your area to find what you are looking for.
  • Go often, but don’t buy just to buy. A Goodwill might accept and put out for display more than 10,000 items per week, so it’s good to check often if you’re looking for something in particular.
  • There is a Club Goodwill card available for $10 that gives you another 10% off your purchases. So if you shop Goodwill often, you’ll want to get one. It’ll pay for itself quickly.

As a way to give back, Goodwill is the first to receive bags of things I’m getting rid of during a move or spring cleaning.

What’s your best Goodwill find?

2 Responses to “#983 Shopping At Goodwill Is Thrifty And Charitable”

  1. Christina Anderson January 18, 2013 at 1:51 pm #

    Thanks for visiting my blog! I too am a thrift store fanatic. I am actually preparing a post shortly about this very same thing. The Goodwill’s where I live get brand new items from Target every Thursday. These items are clearance that didn’t sell or returned items. The best deal I ever got was a brand new set of golf clubs for my husband. They may have been used once or twice. They weren’t a name brand but we did find the same set online for about $300. I paid $29.99! Can’t beat that. Happy Thrifting!

    • thrifty January 18, 2013 at 3:42 pm #

      That is awesome! It’s great to know those inside tips about when Goodwill gets new stuff. Mine doesn’t do the Target thing, but Sunday mornings seem to be a treasure trove as it’s the first day of the half off sale and completely stocked up with everything people dropped off on Saturday!

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