One of my favorite things to do, beyond offer my blatantly stupid opinions on things, is to shop at thrift stores like shopping at Goodwill. You can find awesome stuff at super-cheap prices. Like kids clothes, which is rad, because they grow. so. freaking. fast.
When I first announced that I’d be moving from Casa de la Sausage to Casa de la Aunt Becky, one of the pieces of advice I heard repeatedly was “get thee to a thrift store,” tho it may have been more, “thrift stores, yo,” or “you moron, shop at thrift shops.” Also, “eat more artichokes.”
Y’all had me at “shop.”
Especially when I can find awesome bargains. At thrift stores? You can get AWESOME stuff for dirt-cheap.
Because I had Super Teala and her boyfriend Brian in from Texas, I figured, “what better way for them to see the Chicago sites than to tour the one thrift shop in town?” (also: I am clearly not a good friend). I begged them to go to Goodwill with the promise of Chicago-Style hot dogs at the end. Hey, if you can’t bribe ‘em, join ‘em.
Goodwill is one of the only thrift shops in my area, a mere five minutes (in wild traffic) from my current home, and one of my favorite organizations to donate my used – and no longer needed – items. Their mission falls far more in line with my beliefs than does the Salvation Army, but that’s another post for another day.
I hadn’t been thrift store hunting since I got married, mostly because I proceeded to pop out children and then because there weren’t any worthwhile ones until recently, when a Goodwill store opened up nearby.
We walked in, entirely uncertain of:
a) what we were looking for
b) what we’d find
which is half the fun of going to Goodwill.
First, we noted the delightful racks of Halloween costumes – everything from a darling child’s Snow White dress to an absurd 80’s number replete with zippers, denim, and strategically placed holes. We spent a good long time examining that particular item, and to be frank, days later, I’m still perplexed by the thing.
Goodwill Shopping Tips:
Do not attempt shopping at a Goodwill store on the weekends – especially three-day weekends. Not only is Goodwill more crowded, it’s filled with out-of-towners who, transfixed by the possibility of a deal, will think nothing of shoving their over-sized carts into the back of your legs as you examine an item.
Prepare to be overwhelmed: walking into Goodwill was immediate sensory overload. Which is why I suggest taking a trip to Goodwill section by ever-loving section.
Expect the unexpected and embrace it. While I’d walked into Goodwill looking for some kitchenware (specifically some glasses with which to drink my diet Coke), I walked out with a handful of dresses and some tiny ancient promotional Welch’s Grape Juice glasses. Also: two fedoras.
Be prepared that the items you find may be in sad shape. When I moved, my realtor explained that some people can’t visualize a space decorated with their own stuffs. The same goes for Goodwill shopping – while you may not see the value in an item, it may still be there (and no, I don’t mean in a “lookit this priceless antique I bought” way.)
See things for their potential and remember – not everything has potential. While I can use CLR to get the lime stains from the glasses I bought, there’s not much I can do with a Precious Moments knock-off figurine beyond set it on fire.
There are a LOT of one-of-a-kinders at Goodwill, and I don’t mean of the special snowflake variety. I saw very few sets of dishes, for example, so if you’re going for kitchen stuffs, embrace the mishmashed look.
Consider Goodwill shopping a competitive sport. Because the items at the store rarely occur in pairs, expect that you’ll be pushed, pulled, shoved and run over by other patrons trying to make sure you don’t steal their special deal from under their noses. Wear a small purse and some tough shoes to withstand the jostling.
Consider The Goodwill Experience free entertainment – since going to the movies costs a kidney and a half, the Goodwill store is a great place to people watch, gaze at the weird items people once owned (there were a ZILLION fondue pots there), and giggle at some of the extremely outdated items.
Do not buy anything at Goodwill that’ll take you longer than 3 hours to clean. I saw a half-dozen of those foot spa things there, and I cannot imagine the amount of bleach I’d have to pour into it to feel comfortable enough to soak my feet. I’d rather use a bucket.
Join the Goodwill Club – and no, I don’t mean, “be nice to your neighbors” (although you should be anyway). Goodwill, like many stores, offers an incentive program for those who shop there. It’s a nice way to encourage repeat customers as well as give you actual discounts on your purchases.
Location, location, location: like any realtor will tell you, the most important thing for any home is the location. Same goes for Goodwill. Because Goodwill relies upon donations, as you can imagine, the items in affluent areas will be higher-end than those found in less affluent areas. Find a Goodwill store.
What are your suggestions for thrift store shopping?