Monday, February 15, 2010

10 Things I Have Learned About Thrifting at the Goodwill.

10 Things I have learned about thrifting at the Goodwill.

Shopping at the Goodwill is not for everybody.  It wasn’t for me until this past year.  I can blame it on blogging.   The truth is Goodwill helps keep me entertained. :) Where else can you go and find so much junk in one place for next to nothing?  I am not much of a garage sale shopper.  I don’t really like to do all that driving around and getting up at the crack of dawn on the weekend to hit a garage sale.  That is not how I want to start or spend my weekend.  I like the convenience of Goodwill.  I can pop in whenever the mood strikes or whenever I happen to be driving by. 

I also have to say that I shop the Goodwill mostly for their home goods.  I love seeing what I can find and what I can make pretty.  I have never shopped for clothing there except for pieces to help assemble a Halloween costume or two.  I remember a few years ago my daughter had a school assignment to dress as a character from one of the books on her reading assignment sheet and we laughed ourselves silly looking for the pieces she needed so she could dress up as Muriel Pritchett from the book The Accidental Tourist.  Muriel was a very eclectic  dresser to say the least.   Every colorful piece of clothing that we needed for her ensemble, we were able to find a the GW.  With that being said, I am sure there are great clothing finds to be had there as well.  I am just not experienced in that department.  I simply stick to what I know and what I know is the House Wares Department.

Okay, so here we go with my list of the 10 Things I Have Learned About Thrifting at the Goodwill.

1.  Beware of upholstered furniture.  I hate to say it but if you fall in love with the price of an upholstered piece and you want to take it home with you….you have no choice but to stick your nose in it, on it, and around it.  Did this piece come from the home of a SMOKER?   It is IMPOSSIBLE to get the smoke smell out of a piece of upholstered furniture.  Now I know there are lots of other disgusting and gross smells out there but I really don’t want to get that gagging feeling in my throat by discussing them.  So, just remember this:  Upholstered furniture from the Goodwill is risky!

2.  If you see it, and think you might want it, I say buy it.  Because when you go back tomorrow to get it after getting a good night’s sleep and thinking it over…It will be gone.  Someone else posted on their blog that “the best time to buy an antique is when you see it.”  Good advice for the Goodwill too.

3.  Goodwill doesn’t seem to ever reduce it’s prices. They don’t really do “sales”.   So if you think you will wait to see if they will lower their price they almost never do.  I think if something doesn’t sell…they simply transfer it to another store to see if if moves there.

4.  Don’t put anything back on the shelf unless you are sure you do not want it.  I can’t tell you how many times I have set something down and someone immediately snatched it up.  There are people who are always checking out what items you are carrying or have in your cart and they watch to see what you are looking at.  Kind of creepy I know!

5.  Beware of lamps with old plugs and wiring.  Buy the lamp if you like it and if you think it has potential but if you have any qualms about the safety of a piece…take it to a lamp shop and have it re-wired.  Not very expensive to do and hey….you get brownie points for recycling!  (also keep your receipt because if you get an electronic item home and it doesn’t work you need the receipt to return it and they only give you a store credit.)

6.  Shop after the weekend rush.   I like popping into GW on a Tuesday and Wednesday morning when it is quiet and the trucks from the weekend have been unloaded.  Bigger selection.  Sometimes on Monday mornings the shelves are still picked over from the weekend. 

7.  Most areas have several Goodwill stores and some are very tiny and some are big.  Check each one out to see which one you have the most success at.

8.  Be careful and aware of your surroundings.  Some of the stores are not in the nicest parts of town.  I am lucky in that there is a Distribution Center not too far from me and it is big and gets a lot of great things donated from all the suburbanites cleaning out their attics.  Try to find “That” store in your area.

9.  Goodwill stores smell.  I think the smell is cross between the dry cleaners and somebody’s attic or basement.  A wee bit musty.   But if you can get past the odor and I know you can, there are great treasures to be found.

10.   Frequent shoppers cards are available and I think you can get a 10% discount each time you shop.  I think they might even give Senior Citizen discounts.  I don’t take advantage either because Number 1: I am not old (yet), and Number 2: I think that what Goodwill does as an organization is wonderful.  They take people’s unwanted clothing and household discards and they turn around and sell it to fund programs that really help, educate, and train all kinds of people who really need the help.  Their prices are so ridiculously low already that I don’t mind paying what they consider full price. 

So there you have it.  My list of 10 things I have learned about the Goodwill. I hope you find this information helpful and may the Goodwill Fairy bless you with unbelievable luck and great deals the next time you cross their threshold.  :)


Linda said...

Nice post on GW...I agree that some stores are better than others. Back in November I found a outstanding GW for clothing...spent hours looking and trying on...came away spending $90 for about $1,000 worth of clothing for Mr.CC! He had never done this before...GW was not a place he would go into...after seeing that he could buy the same brands as he had already in his closet for pennies...he was SOLD on the idea...more PLAY money for all his hobbies:)


Kathy @ Creative Home Expressions said...

Good tips, Lisa! I only go for the home decor, too, and maybe non-upholstered furniture. I just can't do clothes or upholstered furniture ~ that's just me. I do a lot of what you've said here like holding onto something until I'm absolutely sure I don't want it. The only thing I haven't done is gone during the week. I'm off today so maybe I'll swing by after Home Depot!

Danielle and Clint said...

The only problem with our Thrift Stores is they are actually expensive for what they have. I get too discouraged by this.

Calamity Anne said...

Great list!!! I'll definitely keep in mind the shopping on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, as I'm still a newbie when it comes to GW. I too got turned onto them by seeing all the 'goodies' people blogged about, and how they repurposed them.

sissie said...

Good advice about GW. In my area they just opened a brand new one which is huge. It still has a new smell, but we will see.
They have a great housewares dept., but you gotta get there often and grab it if you want it.

I don't think I would buy an upholstered piece, I mostly look for small tables and such.

I also shop a great deal at Habitat Resale store. I have found some great things there.

Your advice is great, especially if you are just discovering GW.
It's a really fun thing to do.


Amy@TheLemonCottage said...

Great post.
We go late on Friday nights to the one in our town. Truck comes on Friday morning, so all the new stuff it out! Ours is doing an ecycle program right now, old computer components gets you a 30% coupon.
We scored a lot of great buys this week.

Pug1 said...

Great pointers! CHEERS! Michele

Audra said...

Great post! The Goodwills in my area run a 50% off Saturday every other Saturday which is a great way to score some fabulous deals. I usually wait until late morning to head over as the opening crowd can get to be a bit much. Still lots of wonderful finds left.

Definitely second the "don't put back on shelf unless you DON'T want it". I picked up item, had someone reach around me and try to take it out of my hand mid-lift.

Anny said...

The Goodwills by me are so overpriced that I'm always jealous of you blogland shoppers.

However when I'm shopping out of town I follow the "Snatch it up, Don't set it down" rule. As creepy as it sounds I always look in other people's carts too *LOL*

micah @ the yellow front door said...

I've never been a big thrifter, but seeing what other bloggers find at GW is inspiring. I haven't even been to our local GW store yet - but this post makes me want to go soon :) Thanks for the tips!

Kiera said...

the one by me smells like hamburger! but i love the gw. so much potential

Lelan @ Good Gravy! said...

I lost it over your comment about GW smelling. Couldn't be more true!

I Love Pretty Little Things said...

First of all, I live your blog. It is beautiful! Secondly, I agree with all 10 of you GW suggestions. I have a tiny GW near me, but have found some really good stuff there.
The only clothing item that I have bought is a J Crew big, over sized, cream, wool seater that still had the tag on it! I got it for 4.00, and every time that I wear it someone comments on it. I have dubbed it my best find yet.

Sarah said...

I made mistake #1 before...not with smoke...just with being a really cheap uncomfortable piece...and spent money on reupholstering it too.