Over The Rainbow at ShopGoodwill.com

by Katy on August 22, 2016 · 14 comments

I recently had the opportunity to poke through the ShopGoodwill.com facility for Goodwill Industries of The Columbia Willamette. My tour guide was the ever knowledgable Dale Emanuel, known simply as “Goodwill Dale” at my house, as she shares a name with my husband. She and I go way back, remember when she gave me a behind the scenes tour of the main Goodwill store?

For your visual reference, here we are taking a selfie in front of one of the pay-by-the-pound outlet bins. #friendshipgoals

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The facility itself is an enormous warehouse, located right next door to the Hillsboro Goodwill Outlet store. You could almost miss the entrance, as it’s unmarked. When you enter, you experience a surreal Wizard of Oz moment as the world turns from black and white to color, or more realistically from a suburban parking lot to a warehouse piled to the ceiling with priceless treasures. (Okay, okay . . . it’s actually “treasures neatly stacked on shelves.” But what kind of dull visual is that?) Either way, there are treasures galore!

I have to admit that my first response was dismay, as this building holds all the stuff I normally scout for when thrifting. But I quickly reminded myself that Goodwill’s mission is “To provide vocational opportunities to people with barriers to employment.” Not “To provide underpriced items for Katy Wolk-Stanley.” As Dale puts it, “To further maximize the value of donations.”

For those who are unfamiliar with ShopGoodwill.com, let me get you up to speed. ShopGoodwill is a multi-regional non-profit online auction site that sells both rare and popular goods. So although this particular facility is the largest in the nation, it’s one of many that coordinate their efforts.

Or more precisely:

“Participating Goodwill’s from across the country offer for auction on the site a wide array of art, antiques and collectibles as well as new and nearly new items pulled from their vast inventories of donated goods. From unique one-of-a-kind items to estate pieces, the depth of resources is enormous. Revenues from these auction sales fund Goodwill’s education, training and job placement programs for people with disabilities and other barriers.”

Once I got over myself, I began to enjoy in the wonder of it all. Everywhere I looked were hyper-organized treasures. (Sorry, am I using the word “treasure” too much?) Wagner and Griswold cast iron pans, Pendleton wool blankets, antiques and collectables, electronics, designer goods, American Girl dolls, Texas Instrument calculators, musical instruments, Dyson vacuum cleaners, Roombas, toys, books, Legos, jewelry and pretty much anything else you could dare to dream of!

I was quickly introduced to the dream team of Joshua Peterson, e-commerce operations manager and assistant-manager Heather. Of course, there’s Dale again.

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I learned that certain categories of donations are earmarked for special treatment. For example, American flags are sent to The American Legion and taxidermy animals are donated to a wildlife educational center.

Hello there, kitty. Are you ready to serve an educational purpose?

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A large portion of the warehouse is dedicated to GoodwillBooks.com, which runs the gamut from bestsellers to rare.

Goodwillbooks

Of course, I took a picture. What you can’t see in this photo is that I’m pulling a Buffy The Vampire Slayer book from the shelf. I guess I should have clarified how to frame the photo before handing my phone over.

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So pretty!

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I also learned that not a single donated book goes to the landfill, and that Goodwill foots the bill for recycling all unsaleable books. (In 2015 alone, Goodwill donated 28,000+ books through the “Book of My Own” program.)

Legos and jewelry are big sellers, which both have a 100% “sell-through rate.”

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All the while, the 90 employees are busy photographing, researching and listing the donations. (400 – 500 per day, approximately 3,500 at any one time!) You can see a lighted photo station in the background of this picture. Those large white plastic bags? They each hold a wedding dress!

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Because my area’s Goodwill receives anything and everything through their 100+ donation stations, ShopGoodwill.com sells everything you could possibly ever think of. Recent items have included:

  • A 4-foot square soapstone Taj Mahal, lit from within and weighing “at least 600 pounds.”
  • A human skull marked “for scientific purposes.”
  • A full size weaving loom.
  • A life size Yoda.
  • A rare color change sapphire brooch.
  • An autographed Amelia Earhart book.
  • This fancy-to-the-schmancy chair, which I think evokes a fabulous Donatella Versace vibe.

Fancy schmancy chair

As the manager Joshua Peterson put it, “Not a week goes by that I don’t see something that I’ve never seen before.” (Not surprising considering that Portland area Goodwills receive over 218 million pounds of annual donations!)

Listings start at $5, with an average sale around $40, so there are opportunities for some great bargains. You can even narrow your search to your local region in order to arrange a pickup.

This site is perfect for all the people who complain that my Goodwills must be better than their Goodwills. Because ShopGoodwill.com is for everyone. Well . . . except for those in the taxidermy market. Don’t believe me? Then click here to scope out featured items.

May the thrifting odds be ever in your favor.

This blog post may read like a sponsored post, but it isn’t. I promise. I just *really* like Goodwill.

Katy Wolk-Stanley

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.”

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{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

Loretta August 22, 2016 at 3:01 pm

Oh, oh, oh, I want to go to there:-)

My idea of very heaven!!
Loretta

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Katy August 22, 2016 at 10:31 pm

And I want to go back to there!

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Karen August 22, 2016 at 3:58 pm

Thank you for this tremendous tour!! I just spent a very fun 20 minutes on their website and will be returning!

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AnnW August 22, 2016 at 5:47 pm

I love that chair. It looks like it is upholstered in an Hermes scarf!. I usually don’t like anything that ornate, but it smiles at me.

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Katy August 22, 2016 at 10:31 pm

The secret is that the chair was actually gilded plastic and weighed almost nothing.

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Marion August 23, 2016 at 1:20 am

That’s amazing! What really impresses me is the volume of “STUFF” that is not being sent to a landfill, creating jobs and helping others.

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Barb @ 1SentenceDiary August 23, 2016 at 4:34 am

Curses to you! Here’s a great site that I didn’t even know existed and now I want all. the. things. Are you trying to ruin my goal of uncluttering? 😉
Thanks for the great behind-the-scenes tour. It looks amazing!

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JD August 23, 2016 at 5:48 am

This is great! I am going to go to this website today. I would love to see this in person! Katy, how did you ever manage to leave?

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Katy August 23, 2016 at 8:11 am

They eventually brought in security who hauled me out kicking and screaming. 😉

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Vickie August 23, 2016 at 7:16 am

OMG! I would be in heaven among all those books!

They do a great job, thanks for sharing, Katy!!! 🙂

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Desiree August 23, 2016 at 10:39 am

Hi Katy, I have two questions. Is the place you were in open to the public? I go to Hillsboro monthly and would love to go in there. But the most important question. How do you register and actually shop or bid on the site? My husband spent about an hour last night trying to register and he came up with the most austere passwords imaginable and every single one was taken. I e-mailed them and have yet to hear back, he called the number and it didn’t work. He tried again for over an hour this morning as well. It appears there is no way to register or communicate with them. There are two instruments I want so badly and no way to bid on them!!!!!!

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Marianne August 23, 2016 at 5:18 pm

Wow I did not know about that site, they have a Fender guitar going for $13k.

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nancy from mass August 24, 2016 at 6:25 am

OMG! I cannot stop looking at that site! so many fun things to check out. I’ve already saved it to my toolbar – yes, not my favorites, but my TOOLBAR!

Curse you, Katy! (their sales are going to go up because of you though! 🙂 )

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Allison August 24, 2016 at 8:53 am

I love this website, but now you’ve shared it and the masses will know! 🙂 It’s a great place to search for that one off pyrex bowl to complete your set or American Girl doll clothes for your niece.

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