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Destinations, Dreams and Dogs - International adventure with a fast-track family (& dogs) of Old World values, adopting the Russian-Italian-American good life on the go…!

Good Stuff at Goodwill

Never in a million years, let’s just put it like that. A sister-in-law tried to sell me on the idea years ago that thrift stores were fun places to shop. Born with the silver spoon in my mouth, or at least on my high chair, I was flabbergasted at the very thought. We were visiting a small town and I agreed to accompany her inside, looking this way and that, nervous that someone may blow my cover as a poor person pretender.

“No, it’s fine,” she reassured me with urban, well, make that suburban/rural myths of people snagging real deals in secondhand shops.

All I encountered was second-hand smoke reeking from every fabric, fold, and frying pan in the store. Pee-yew. After five minutes, I told her I’d be waiting in the car.

Fast-forward to now, my curiosity piqued when I need some purely quirky and decorative items for a special display, and I decide to try again. We’re in another city, and I ask Benedetto if we can pull in to this newish Goodwill store.

“Five minutes,” is the best he can do, which actually makes sense if time is money.

At the door, a male worker greets me, “Well hello, darlin’, how are you today?” He explains the store hours and other pertinent facts that impress me as more welcoming than many a trendy boutique with bored, blasé salespeople dressed in black, but still earning minimum wage. Maybe if they smiled some, their commissions would climb.

I run inside, considering that I might be overdressed—oh, the thoughts that plague small minds. I’m amazed at the sheer size of the store, and the fact that all is well-organized: a lost art in marketing circles where merchandisers imagine customers to have hours to browse and wander.

My style is much more like a male shopper: get in, bag the goods, get out. I marvel at the neat rows: white shirts, polo shirts, black pants, track pants, jeans, purses, housewares, toys. As the song goes, “If you want it, here it is, come and get it.”

Problem is, I can’t figure out the pricing. I sidle up to another woman.

“Excuse me,” I flip over one of my items, “is this the price?” I point to three plausible numbers, 393, yet without any decimal points nor dollar signs. Plus, there is a 13 beneath it.

“Yes,” she jumps in. “The price is $3.93, and 50% off of that if the number is a 14—today’s number is 14.”

I blink and rack my brain, wondering whether today is the 14th (it’s not), or if that’s just their special number for the day, or if we’re all in some big bingo game. She rummages through my cart, pointing out items that will ring up at half-price.

“You have three more items!” she enthuses. “See the 14? Fifty percent off. There’s also 25% off for active military, or for those 55 and older.”

“Well, I’m not there, yet,” I laugh, “but thank you so much for the help.” With such deep discounts, soon they might be paying me to shop here.

I am now passing the eight minute mark, and have only grabbed a few knick-knacks. I don’t want to push things. (A shame my mother is not still alive, she would have me knee-high in knick-knacks….) Heading to the check-out, I notice a group of golfers on couches resembling a living room setting near the front door.

“They’re calling for coffee and snacks,” the clerk confides to me.

“Put in a café,” I arch my eyebrows, “great money-maker,” I point out.

So it seems like Goodwill has gone mainstream—this is not the clientele I had imagined. I tell her it’s my first time here and she further fills me in.

“Remember that about 85% of every dollar spent at Goodwill goes back into providing more jobs.”

“That’s impressive,” I comment, making mental note of no offensive smells, or any other major turn-offs, such as Gucci bags next to Prada wallets, or Hermes scarves cheek by jowl with Louis Vuitton bijoux. Actually, I did not spy any designer duds in my whirlwind tour, so they are safe on that account.

While I may still fit in more with the by-invitation-only boutique crowd, or with the upscale antique store shoppers, Goodwill is a good place to shop, helping local communities help themselves. The cashier almost sells me on a frequent shopper charge card, but it was a little early for that kind of commitment, and my time was up. This was the type of shopping relationship that wouldn’t necessarily sweep me off my feet, but appeared to have the slow and steady, dependable and reliable personality, and could easily grow over time.

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8 Comments : Leave a Reply

  1. avatar Gwendolyn says:

    There are some things — shirts for my MIL, for example — where Goodwill is THE prime and preferred supplier. Good stuff, organized by size, by color… Easy: I run in, pick up the spring colored things in her color, pay and vamoose!

    For the girls and for myself, it takes a little more work, but often pays for itself in the combination of speed (not usually confusing!) and price.

    I converted when the kids and Grandma landed in our town!

    • avatar admin says:

      I could not believe the organization of the place–if I could just make my closet look like that–minus the used wedding dresses of course…. Very user friendly once you know the secret ins and outs, lol-!

  2. avatar matryoshka wendy says:

    I always check the Goodwill in the upscale town next to mine…..somebody in that town always donates her J Jill pants in my size and I don’t have to buy them at the actual J Jill store for a zillion times more. Pricing at our Goodwills are simpler though…..they have a color of the week and if your price tag is the color of the week, it’s 50% off. Oh and BOOKS. I just wish they would organize the books as well as they organize the clothes….

    • avatar admin says:

      They have books-?! Oh my, thanks, Wendy. And I never got to the clothes, just flew past them…. There may be some hidden gems out there, ladies! 🙂

  3. avatar Fran says:

    My daughter is a fashion editor, personal shopper, tv fashion expert, and fashion icon in our area. She recently (April 21st) was the MC and organizer of the ‘Little Black Dress Event’, which is the major fund raiser event for Goodwill of Northern Indiana. There are ‘Boutique’ sections of the Goodwill Stores here, with labels like Talbots, J Jill, Coldwater Creek, Chicos, etc. and new items still with the tags on. I saw a suit from Nordstroms with a tag $1995.00. I believe it was Jones of New York Couture. I’ve found wonderful things there for myself as well as for my daughter and granddaughter.

    • avatar admin says:

      Thanks, Fran, now this is getting interesting-! I have to stop with sneaking around backwoods areas incognito, take off my floppy hat and sunglasses, and head out with my head held high into an upscale Goodwill. The things I never knew-! (Not the first time…)

  4. avatar Sybil says:

    Have you discovered the Dollar Store? Oh my goodness, the things you can get there for a dollar or less. For me the best thing is wrapping paper, decorative bags for gifts, and greeting cards of all types. There are so many great buys for kids parties, band aids, some common over the counter meds or things you need not to last but need for once or twice. Also things like chips and snacks that are brand names. We can spend $50.00 in a few minutes at the Dollar Store.

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