Goodwill Outlet Store: A Life Changing Consumer Experience

Ah, outlets. Everybody loves outlets. So much inventory, such great deals, and that delightful belly warming “I got this so much cheaper than retail!” feeling.

But the Goodwill Outlet Store……this is something special.

I remember hearing about the imminent opening of the Goodwill Outlet sometime in January 2012 and I was ecstatic. Just its name sounds too good to be true – a Goodwill Outlet? That’s like a thrift store of a thrift store!

And that’s exactly what it is. Large shallow blue bins line the “aisles” of the open space store. You sift through the bins for the treasure amongst the junk and filth. And believe me, there’s a lot of junk and filth in those bins but when your eye catches something – the sleeve of a shirt, the edge of a box, the gleam of a metal something or other –  and you reach to expose it and it’s something GLORIOUS…’s a downright religious experience.

Same goes for the checkout.

You put your loot on the scale and they ring you up. I think it’s $1.49/lb for things like apparel but less for heavier items such as ceramics. You could leave with ten new outfits for 5 bucks.

I was so excited to go when they first opened but couldn’t seem to make time for it. It took me the better part of a year to make my pilgrimage and it did not go well. The Beard and I walked into a crazy crowded store with a putrid smell. The Bins (yes, they deserve a capital letter) were near empty with lingering broken pieces of plastic and kitschy X-mas glitter lining the bottom.  Still people sifted through them and pushed carts filled with so much junk and with such a dead look in their eyes that it kind of freaked me out. “This is where hoarders go to hoard,” I remember The Beard saying. We were in there for maybe 10 minutes before we felt too claustrophobic and uncomfortable to stay. I left disappointed and never thought of going back….

Until I started hearing about it at my new job. Coworkers returning from their lunch break thrifting adventures with findings so cheap and ripe for resale that I decided to give the place a second chance.

I was a little nervous about returning there but it seemed cleaner than before and didn’t have any odor. I went over my lunch break and decided that I’d stay for one bin change out before leaving. You see, they rotate the Bins every 30 minutes. It’s a terribly awkward process to stand in a quiet echoey warehouse room with dozens of strangers while the Goodwill staff reel out squeaky plastic treasure troves of wonder and everyone slowly moves forward like zombies until staff gives the okay. Then everyone mad dashes to search through the rubble for the rubies.

It’s like Black Friday every 30 minutes at the Goodwill Outlet store.

And now I finally understand why.

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One pristine London Fog hooded rain coat.

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One Banana Republic sweater and Kohl’s turtleneck in perfect condition.

IMG_1087 And one adorable floral scarf.

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AND KNITTING NEEDLES!!! These were an especially great find. I’ve been casually working on setting up a Friday night knitting group at the women’s shelter I used to work for. There’s never been a shortage of yarn donated from people’s projects; the problem has always been a lack of knitting needles! No self respecting knitter ever turns over her needles and at $10 -$15 for a brand new pair, they’re a bit pricey to donate.

And now, the grand total…..$3.27 for the whole lot. It feels like stealing. The only problem I foresee with having a positive experience at the Goodwill Outlet is that now all other thrift stores will pale in comparison in their pricing. I can see myself reaching a point where if it’s more than $5 for a bag of items for wear or resell, I won’t want it.

Also, they might need to have the 1-800-BETSOFF hotline posted there. I can foresee it being a “just one more bin” gamble.