What is a Goodwill outlet? It's a large room filled with bins lined up and usually divided according to type of content like clothing, bedding/fabric, toys, household goods, purses/bags, shoes, books/cds, random junk, and electronics. There's also a chance that it will be all combined together, so keep that in mind. In addition they will probably also have furniture and a rack of DVD's or games. They might also have a cabinet with rarer or name brand items that have a specific price. Everything in the bins except for select items like books and movies are pay by the pound. Here's an idea of the prices from my local GWO:
You'll have to check with yours, but as you can see the prices are very low compared to regular Goodwill stores. If you're on a budget this is a great place to go!
So, now that you know what the Goodwill outlet is it's time to find one nearby. Here is a list from Ask.com as of 2013. But don't be surprised if you do a little research and there are more that aren't listed. They might just be smaller.
Before you go there are a few things you should know.
The rules of the place are simple enough. Don't steal, don't shop in other people's carts, don't get in fights, etc. But with the bigger outlets (and some smaller outlets) It's good to know replenishment procedure. Usually this means you can't shop the new bins that are being brought out until a worker tells everyone it's okay. You probably have to stand behind a taped line on the ground or in another designated area until then. This time is the most hectic so if you're timid or scared of a little push and shove you might just want to wait until everyone else has done their shopping/grabbing and there's a break. The problem is you'll miss out on the really sweet stuff.
Now that I have sufficiently warned you about general procedure, here are my tips for surviving a trip to the Goodwill outlet:
- Bring gloves! I tend to forget mine, but for my first trip I was very happy I had a pair. I'm not going to lie, some things are dirty and gross, but not everything. You just might have to dig through a bunch of dirty things to find something you want. It's a lot like looking for buried treasure. My favorite gloves to wear are gardening gloves, but regular latex gloves are also good to have.
- Secure your belongings. Don't bring a large purse and keep your personal items close to your body. I bring a small cross-body purse that I always wear. Never leave it in your cart! Just make sure if you put things in your pockets that they won't fall out easily. Check on them frequently. I'm not trying to make you paranoid, but there's always a chance you might accidentally drop something important in a bin and it could get lost quickly.
- Wear comfortable clothes/shoes. I don't get dirty when I go, but I still wear clothes that I don't care about as much. You'll also be standing on your feet a lot and walking around. It's good to have nice, comfortable shoes especially if you plan on staying for more than a few hours. Yes, this can turn into an all-day thing!
- Hydrate/bring snacks/take breaks if you're staying for an extended period of time. You can't bring them inside, but if you bring a buddy along one of you can watch the cart(s) and the other can take a break. Believe me, if you stay for two hours or more it's exhausting, but you can also lose track of time. You'll thank yourself for taking breaks. Usually they'll have bathrooms and water fountains inside that are available for customers.
- Have a general idea of what you're looking for, or go in with an open mind. The possibilities are endless, and you really have no idea what you're going to find in this place. It's easy to get distracted. By focusing on what you want you might be able to find it easier, and by keeping an open mind it will allow you to find things you didn't know you needed.
Okay, this might be a bad example! lol
- Sort later. If you like something about it, throw it in your cart and keep shopping. Save the sorting for the end before you check out. You could miss out on something right in front of you that you like even more by staring at something you can't decide if you like or not. It's a waste of time to sort while shopping, I cannot stress that enough.
- Don't be afraid to dig. Be cautious when in housewares and other piles that may contain sharp objects, but in the clothes it doesn't hurt to dig or move big piles out of your way. The good stuff is almost never on top unless someone just threw it back.
- Bring your own bags or find some there. We always bring our own bags. It helps a lot when you're sorting through your stuff at the end of the day to divide it up into categories. That makes it easier for the cashier, and you will more than likely get a discount for it!
- Make friends. Fairly often people are open to talking to strangers, especially if you're willing to help them find things. They might even help you in return! It doesn't hurt to ask. Just don't be too disappointed if someone doesn't carry on a conversation with you your first go. Being friendly to the workers and getting to know them is a good idea too. It's just a nice thing to do especially if you make a habit of going to the Goodwill outlet frequently.
- Don't start or give in to fights. Okay, I'll admit, some shoppers at the GWO can be MEAN. This is especially so when new bins come out. If someone hurts you either tell a worker or move to another location. Sometimes whatever you want isn't worth it. This rarely happens, but it's always a good idea to be aware of what could happen.
As you can see, this place may not exactly be for the weak thrift shoppers or those afraid to get their hands dirty. However, if you're willing to try it, it can end up very rewarding! When I first moved to Washington state I lost a lot of weight and needed new clothes. I found some really great stuff there. (Some name brand too!) If you're a crafter it's also a great place to find supplies. I have a whole tote full of yarn from there, and several totes of clothes I plan on refashioning. I also shop the belts for studs because it is so much cheaper to buy an old studded belt than a bag of studs at the craft store. Plus you get more for your money! If you've ever pinned anything on pinterest that requires certain pre-used materials (plastic toys, home decor, mason jars, picture frames, etc.) chances are you'll find what you're looking for there.
Personally, I find the only cons of shopping at the Goodwill outlet is the time and effort put into finding good treasures and then taking them home and cleaning them. Still, I think that it's worth it! Maybe one of these days I'll do a haul of my favorite finds from the Goodwill outlet.
So what do you think: would you ever try shopping at a Goodwill outlet? Have you ever been to one before? Let me know in the comments!
Until then, thanks for stopping by and