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.

IMG_1057  IMG_1059

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.



Day 4 of Money Challenge #2: Everyday Listing/Selling for 31 days – It’s storming outside

That’s right, it’s storming outside. A classic Spring Midwestern storm that’s kept me mostly inside. But I did muster up the energy to visit a nearby thrift store just for fun and found these:



Cabela’s Men’s socks. They retail for $12.99 and I got them for much much less than that. A friend at work recently made a profit off some Cabela’s clothing by listing it on ebay, so I decided to go ahead and take the chance. Plus, if they don’t sell at least The Beard can wear them.

Then I felt guilty for buying something to list when I have stuff at home that I should be listing. And since it’s a stormy day, I made the most of it by listing three additional items:




A costume jewelry necklace, a weird kind of viking candelabra, and an old ice cube maker. I’ve listed them all.

So far the most views one of my items has gotten is nine. NINE! That’s it! I don’t know why I have a bad luck streak with ebay going but I hope it ends soon.

Day 4

Listed thus far: Sarah Coventry brooch, vintage candelabra, Springer spaniel belt buckle, Cabela’s socks, Avon necklace, vintage ice cube tray, and viking like candelabra.

Total sold: $0

Day 8 of Money Challenge #1: $500 in 31 days

This morning when I woke up I decided that A.) I have too many clothes. And B.) I’m going to try real hard to make at least $20 today. 

And with those two points on my mind, I went through my closet for some clothes I don’t intend on wearing again. I came up with a decent bag of brand name clothing and vintage clothes that I don’t plan on wearing in the future: 


After the bag of clothes was assembled, I had to figure out where to take them. There’s a few places in my city that’ll pay okay for clothes they choose to buy. I decided to test my luck and take my clothes to a place of which I have a love/hate relationship. The thrift store is Arizona Trading Company:



I had a few too many times back in college when I, desperate and broke, took my clothes there for a few bucks only to be told they didn’t want to buy anything. So I was a little nervous taking my clothes there several years later. Luckily, they liked my style today more than when I was in college and I was presented with this receipt of payment:



They can sell the stuff they took for $83.50 so they gave me $29.23. Not bad for thirty minutes work of going through my closet. And they paid cold hard cash. So my money bag now looks like this: 



Well, you can’t see that it’s now a few tens, fives and ones, but it is! And while I’m not where I need to be in order to secure $500 in 31 days, my money bag is growing and I haven’t gone a single day without some kind of cash gained. And that’s important when you’re poor. 

Day 8

Today’s gain: $29.23

Total amount accrued: $92.50

Left for the win: $407.50


Day 7 of Money Challenge #1: $500 in 31 days

I was walking around a new thrift store, thinking about how overpriced the stuff was until I came across the fabric section and saw two oddly fuzzy pieces of fabric hanging from the line for only 99 cents.  I was curious about what the hell this was, so I inspected the strange fuzzy fabric and found this:


The gold tag, not the white. It says “American Girl” and that means it’s worth more than 99 cents in great condition. So I bought the strange pieces of fabric with the intent in reselling them on ebay. Alas, I made $10.51 profit today with that instinct to resell them!

Finding weird things at the thrift store and reselling them is always a gamble. Luckily, I’ve been doing it for about 8 years so I’m finally at that point where I know what I’m doing. And trust me, it took all of 8 years to get to this point. But even a total newbie can see that American Girl is a seller.

And that’s how I sold these…


They’re some kind of bedding/rugs/faux animal hides for the now retired Native American Girl doll Kaya. They sold for $13 + $4 shipping, but after ebay fees, Paypal fees, and shipping costs, and what they cost me, I made 10 buckaroos.

Moral of the story: check out the fuzzy fabric at the thrift store….er, just keep an open mind when figuring out what you can sell for extra dough.

Day 7

Today’s gain: $10.51

Total amount accrued: $63.27

Left for the win: $436.73