This blog post is sponsored by Goodwill Industries of the Columbia Willamette.

I’m super picky about the stuff that gets to live in my home. It needs to be the utmost of quality, but also cost next to nothing. Not an easy task, which is why almost everything in my house is sourced from Goodwill.

However, sometimes these purchases need elbow grease to bring them up to snuff — especially when it comes to furniture. So when I spied this midcentury Broyhill credenza at the Goodwill Outlet I knew it met my strict criteria.

Classic style? √
Durable quality? √
Under $20? √

I think I shelled out $12.99, but since I bought it in July of 2017 the details are a bit fuzzy.

I immediately got to work, grabbing a jug of stripping gel from the basement, which is the fun part as the task of scraping off gooey paint is bizarrely satisfying.

Seriously. Before:

And after!

At this point you may be scratching your head on the timeline of this project, as I purchased this piece in 2017, and last time I checked we’re living in 2019. This is due to me doing all the easy bits and then sticking it in the basement to work on “later.”

For two years. It then sat in my basement for two years!

Cue the addition of a gifted hand-me-down TV, (thank you Dezsea!) to prompt a fresh need to complete the project, and “finish refinishing credenza” shot to the top of my to-do list.

I removed the remainder of the paint with sand paper and then splurged on a $18.44 jug of Danish oil from my local hardware store.

The instructions said to fully saturate the wood, and so I did. I think I applied three coats of oil, as the teak and walnut surfaces still weren’t as glossy as I wanted.

Is it perfect? No. I probably should have used some wood conditioner so the oil would soak in evenly. But I’m still very pleased with the outcome.

Especially since all our television accessories now tuck in nice and neatly.

One more Goodwill project completed? √

Want to know more about Goodwill Industries of the Columbia Willamette? Check out
MeetGoodwill.org, ShopGoodwill.com and 
GoodwillJobConnection.org
to learn more about the important services that they provide for our community.

Katy Wolk-Stanley

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

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This has been a sponsored blog post.

{ 12 comments }

Five Frugal Things

by Katy on November 11, 2019 · 64 comments

  1. I sold a few things, (through both Facebook Marketplace and eBay) including a plant stand, a vintage wire shelf and a small end table; as well as a Pyrex lid, a mug, a down vest, a pair of Dansko clogs and a couple more Funko Pop figures. No hugely impressive sales, but they added up quite nicely.

    I spent six hours cleaning the front porch and kitchen of my mom’s rental cottage. I need to go back and finish up the house which should take just a couple more hours, although it could be more as the last tenants were seriously messy. Seriously . . . they were there for two months and I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that they never once vacuumed.

  2. I saw through their Facebook page that the Supercuts training center was doing free haircuts, so I made an appointment and drove over for one of their highly supervised services. This took no more time than a traditional cut would have taken, and I’ve been 100% satisfied with the six or so cuts I’ve received since I figured out this frugal hack. These capable stylists are board certified, (not students) simply new employees.

    My friend Joel from How To Money gets his hair cut from a Supercuts training center in Atlanta, so it’s worth your while to check if this free service is available in your area of the country.

  3. I stopped at Dollar Tree to pick up a few things, (seasoned salt, bar soap and a plastic drain snake) and was perusing the aisles before hitting the checkout line when I noticed that they had six-packs of Cliff Bars for a buck apiece. Not only were they unexpired, they were the “crunchy peanut” flavor that everyone likes. I grabbed three boxes and later called my friend Lise to let her know about them. She then drove over and picked up five boxes as her husband takes one per day in his work lunches.

  4. I finally completed refinishing a midcentury credenza that I picked up at Goodwill a few years back, I started reading a library copy of Furiously Happy by Jenny Lawson, I’m trying to give away a 2005 TV and TV stand through my Buy Nothing Group, I repaired a wooden wastebasket using glue and thick rubber bands to clamp, my husband took advantage of a Spotify promotion to get a free Google Home device, (which I’ll sell) I used a Jiffy Lube coupon for a $20 oil change and I’ve been really good about cooking frugal dinners at home when all I want is to get takeout.

  5. I didn’t buy a Lear Jet or a vulgar gold-plated apartment in the sky.

Now your turn. What frugal things have you been up to?

Katy Wolk-Stanley    

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

Click HERE to follow The Non-Consumer Advocate on Twitter.
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{ 64 comments }

Five Frugal Things

by Katy on November 1, 2019 · 67 comments

  1. I’ve made a couple of eBay sales, including a North Face toddler-size goose down puffer jacket and a tube of M.C. Escher posters. Both were Goodwill finds, but my favorite was the lightweight coat. It was a pay-by-the-pound bins find, so the profit margin was enjoyably impressive as I likely spent 50¢ on it.

    I drove past Albany, Oregon yesterday, so I stopped into their Goodwill as it’s currently my favorite. (Sorry, all other Goodwills.) I picked up a vintage craftsman-style plant stand, a pair of like-new Danskos and a groovy chrome kitchen wax paper/foil/paper towel dispenser that tugged at my heart. The total for all three items was $22.97, which is not too shabby. Of course it helped that the shoes and the plant stand both sported green tags which saved an additional 50%.

    I’m in the midst of slicking up all three items so they can look their best for resale. Just think of it as their spa treatment. Ahh . . . .

  2. I get a lot of trick-or-treaters at my house, and don’t like to scrimp. However, I’m not fond of all the plastic waste that tags along with traditional candy purchases. So this year I investigated Winco’s bulk candy section and scooped up a big bag of foil wrapped chocolate coins and a bag of paper wrapped Whoppers. My goal was to choose candy with recyclable non-plastic packaging. Whether any of the packaging actually gets recycled is out of my control, but I feel good with the effort.

    The coins were a huge hit, so I think I’ll just buy them and nothing else for 2020.

  3. I noticed that the pretty wooden gilt wastebasket in our spare bedroom had split along two of its seams. Nothing too terrible, but I wanted to deal with it before it became unfixable. I rifled through our glue options and chose a small bottle of clear Gorilla Glue, which I then ran along the detached areas. The design tapers open, so I simply used a handful of thick rubber bands to hold it tight as it dried, as a standard clamp would have been tricky.

    The project took maybe 15 minutes from my day, and I’ve now repaired something that others might have chosen to throw away. Not only did I keep an item from the landfill, but I saved money, as well as the effort of having to replace this practical household item.

    Click HERE to see photos from the process.

  4. I drove through a McDonald’s for a free 6-pack of McNuggets as our basketball team had scored over 100 points, (road trip food!) I cooked up a huge pot of chili from scratch, I discovered that Winco sells Bob’s Red Mill gluten-free flour in bulk for $1.99/pound. (This is a huge savings as a 2-pound bag can cost as much as $9.99!) my husband brought home another armload of free bubble wrap from work, I’m slowly working my way though Veronica Mars through a friend’s Hulu account, I’m holding off from a haircut until the Supercuts training center does their next round of free services and I accepted a friend’s offer of two uncut pumpkins that I can turn into puree for the freezer.

  5. I didn’t buy a Lear Jet or a vulgar gold-plated apartment in the sky.

Now your turn. What frugal things have you been up to?

Katy Wolk-Stanley    

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

Click HERE to follow The Non-Consumer Advocate on Twitter.
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{ 67 comments }

Five Frugal Things

by Katy on October 28, 2019 · 50 comments

  1. My eBay sales perked up a bit. Not an avalanche of cash by any means, but most sales were higher value items, which makes my credit union account a wee bit happier. Sure, I get a serious dopamine hit with any little sale, but I’d rather sell a $70 pair of thrifted sneakers than a jumble of $15 tchotchkes.

    Here’s what I sold:

    – A pair of Chippendale-style brass drawer handles that I pulled from a free pile.

    – A like-new pair of of sample Adidas sneakers. (Portland is “Sneaker Town,” so it’s not unusual to find production samples at Goodwill.)

    – A studio art pepper grinder. (This went to Spain!)

    – A cross stitch kit that had been languishing in my “death pile.”

  2. I’m working with my 24-year-old daughter to convert her room from its childhood configuration to something more like a studio apartment. Step one was to upgrade her circa-1960s mattress set to something more modern. I’d been eyeing the brand new ones from Goodwill for a couple of years, and finally took the leap and bought a full-size set.

    I had enough Goodwill gift cards to cover most of the cost, and since my husband and I have held onto our soccer mom minivan, we were even able to transport it home with minimal fuss.

    I put the old mattress set up on my Buy Nothing Group, and got a reply from a neighbor who’s coming by for it this afternoon. I do try to buy nothing new, but since the mattress is made in the United States (and supports a nonprofit) I think I can file this under “J” for “justifiable purchase.”

    Bonus: It’s really comfortable!

    Check out my Instagram feed to read more about it.

  3. My daughter’s girlfriend showed up with a package of gourmet bacon which prompted a “breakfast for dinner” that used up a satisfying number of random refrigerator contents. Mashed potatoes, eggs and the end of a jar of gluten-free breadcrumbs transformed into potato patties; sautéed onions and peppers garnished each plate and the last of an 18-pack of eggs scrambled themselves up and were topped with the grated end of some hardened cheddar cheese. I also served everyone a tiny bowl of leftover butternut squash soup.

    I do love when a meal is able to incorporate the 10,001 tiny containers of leftovers that populate my refrigerator. And since the meal was delicious, absolutely zero sacrifice was required.

  4. I reset our programmable thermostat to better reflect my family’s current schedule, I once again set out the Halloween decorations that an old neighbor gave to me maybe 15 years ago, (without ever feeling the need to add to the collection) I renewed some Craigslist listings, I dropped off our ballots at the library which saved $1.65 (the cost of three stamps) and my friend Lise just texted to ask if I wanted a half-bunch of cilantro.

  5. I didn’t buy a Lear Jet or a vulgar gold-plated apartment in the sky.

Now your turn. What frugal things have you been up to?

Katy Wolk-Stanley    

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

Click HERE to follow The Non-Consumer Advocate on Twitter.
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Disclosure: The eBay link is an affiliate link, which means that I earn a small percentage from any purchases you make through eBay within a few days of clicking over. This costs nothing extra to you.

{ 50 comments }

Five Frugal Things

by Katy on October 25, 2019 · 53 comments

  1. I’ve sold nothing, although I did pick up a cool midcentury kitchen clock and quickly listed it on eBay. I have a big blue Ikea bag of miscellaneous thrifted items to list, and may start on that task this afternoon. I’m scheduled to help my mother clean out her rental cottage between tenants, so I’ll definitely bring in some side income.

  2. Yesterday was my mother’s 77th birthday, so we invited her and my step father over for dinner. I made meatloaf, mashed potatoes and peas, as well as butternut squash soup and an apple crisp. Nothing to impress an elite gourmand, but all perfectly satisfying for a crisp (aka “soggy” as I do live in  Oregon) fall celebration.

    I gifted my mother with a hand written voucher for a “Birthday Day of Adventures,” as well as a tin of stroopwaffels, which are her absolute favorite treat. We’ll figure out a date to venture out and experience what the Portland area has to offer, but for now I’m busy digesting a particularly heavy meal.

    At this point in my life, I’ve transitioned to giving consumables and experiential gifts instead of traditional store bought things. I may give a few thrifted items come the holiday season, but for family birthdays, it’s straight up experiences and food. Very few of us need more things, yet most of us would welcome an afternoon of indulgence, food and fun activities.

  3. I grabbed a huge bag of packaging air pillows from a local shop, but around half of them were too big to be practical. However, they were big enough to serve as dog poop bags, so I spent a few minutes cutting the tops open. My friend Lise has a small-ish dog, and was more than happy to give these items one more life. This delays her next purchase of brand new plastic bags, which would trigger the manufacture of ones made from virgin materials.

  4. I picked up a neighbor’s free framed poster, a old college friend came through town and gave me a half loaf of amazing bakery bread, (thanks, Diana!) a member of my Buy Nothing Group gifted me with a bag of bubble wrap and my daughter and I watched a library DVD of Hidden Figures.

  5. I didn’t buy a Lear Jet or a vulgar gold-plated apartment in the sky.

Now your turn. What frugal things have you been up to?

Katy Wolk-Stanley    

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

Click HERE to follow The Non-Consumer Advocate on Twitter.
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{ 53 comments }

Five Frugal Things

by Katy on October 19, 2019 · 50 comments

  1. I haven’t sold much over the past week, although I did sell four yards of vintage Disney fabric, a set of Bob early reader books and a pair of Sodastream bottle lids.

    The lids were from Amazon, (to complete a thrifted SodaStream) but they weren’t the correct configuration. I tried to return them, but instead received a refund and was told to “donate or dispose of them.” Instead I put them up on eBay for $12, and they’re now on their merry way to the British Virgin Islands. Lucky bastards.

  2. I invited out of town friends over for a dinner party and laid out components for a “burrito bar,” buffet, which easily accommodated everyone’s individual dietary requirements. It was almost embarrassingly too frugal, as I’d cooked up bulk purchased pinto and black beans in the Instant Pot. The other toppings were similarly inexpensive, as I’d picked up onions, tortillas, lettuce, green peppers, cheese, chips, sour cream, avocados and cilantro from employee owned (and super cheap) Winco. I already owned the salsas and hot sauces, as well as some random craft beers in the fridge. Most people actually chose seltzer as their beverage of choice, (hello . . . SodaStream!) which kept the budget ridiculously under control.

    But the best part is that we’ve been enjoying the leftovers for days! I then saw a picture of someone’s black bean chicken soup, which prompted the creation of a vat of soup that incorporated the last of the leftover black beans, as well as some almost forgotten diced tomatoes, a can of tomato sauce, chicken broth and a dash of this and a squirt of that. Topped with grated cheese, cilantro, a dollop of sour cream and some tortilla chip smithereens, and my family enthusiastically gobbled it up. I even recreated it the next night and received precisely zero complaints.

  3. I’d been wanting a peace lily plant for awhile, as I’d read that they’ve been shown to increase indoor air quality. I noticed that a discount grocery store was selling them next to the register for $5 apiece, and had been mulling it over since. I prefer not to pay for plants, as they’re easy enough to root, but but still kept an eye out during my next shopping trip.

    Indeed they were still next to the register, although looking a bit worse for wear, with a few brown leaves and droopy flowers. However, I grew up with a greenhouse and know how to save ailing plants. I asked for and received a $2 discount and brought home the overwatered plant. I quickly snipped off the brown bits, wiped down the dirty leaves and transplanted it into a pretty glazed flowerpot that I already owned. I’m at peace with a $3 potted plant.

  4. I accepted the offer of a coffee date from a friend of a friend who wanted blogging advice, I quickly put together three new eBay listings yesterday, I attended a free author lecture at a local university to coincide with the launch of Shedding Our Stars: The Story of Hans Calmeyer & How He Saved Thousands of Families Like Mine, I socialized with a friend by going for a walk, I grabbed a neighbor’s free framed poster, as I can have the glass cut down for a different project and my husband went into a different position at work which will save us $616 per month on our health insurance!

  5. I didn’t buy a Lear Jet or a vulgar gold-plated apartment in the sky.

Now your turn. What frugal things have you been up to?

Katy Wolk-Stanley    

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

Click HERE to follow The Non-Consumer Advocate on Twitter.
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Disclosure: The eBay link is an affiliate link, which means that I earn a small percentage from any purchases you make through eBay within a few days of clicking over. This costs nothing extra to you.

{ 50 comments }

Conscious Decluttering

by Katy on October 17, 2019 · 6 comments

The following is a reprint of a previously published post from 2014. Enjoy! 

Like Gwyneth and Chris’ conscious uncoupling, I am in the midst of my own conscious decluttering. Conscious because I am on a rabid quest to get rid our house of anything that’s neither useful nor appreciated, but also because I’m very deliberate about where we send our unwanted belongings.

Today’s donations perfectly demonstrate my insanity efforts.

See this photo? There are three bags of stuff here, plus a laundry basket of yup . . . more stuff. (Don’t let yourself be intimidated by my impressive Pinterest-worthy photo skills.)

Decluttered stuff

Let me break it down for you:

  • The bag on the doorknob is filled with nice stuffed animals. My husband, who is a Paramedic will give them to kids on the ambulance who need some extra comfort.

  • The laundry basket is filled with random miscellaneous stuff. This all went to Goodwill.

  • The paper bag with the white box is filled with various Japanese items that we’ve received as gifts. (Puzzles, origami paper, scarves, etc.) I took this over to the Japanese elementary school for the teachers to use in their classrooms.

  • The black bag is filled with martial arts uniforms from when my younger son took classes. The shirts are specific to the school, which is where I took everything. They accepted everything and will stack the clothes in an area for current families to take.

It would have been very easy for me to just dump everything at Goodwill, but by parceling out the donations, it’s much more likely for my unwanted stuff to get into the hands of someone who does want it.

Do you separate out your donations or are you more of a donate everything at once kind of declutterer? Please share your thoughts in the comments section below.

Katy Wolk-Stanley

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

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{ 6 comments }

Five Frugal Things

by Katy on October 13, 2019 · 73 comments

  1. My eBay and Facebook Marketplace listings found their groove this week and I sold a bunch of things! My favorite of which was the sale of my thrifted Patagonia roller suitcase, which as much as I loved it was designed for someone shorter than I. I also sold a 90-year-old cast iron skillet and a random assortment of eBay items including a clown clock, five bank zipper pouches, a Speedo nylon zip sack, a pair of Carhartt pants, a cribbage board and a vase.

    I sold so much stuff that I ran out of bubble wrap and had to disassemble a stack of Amazon branded insulated envelopes to pad my wares. (I get these free from a neighbor.) My packages might look like craft projects, but they do the trick and except for packing tape never include single-use shipping supplies.

  2. We celebrated my daughter’s 24th birthday with a Birthday Day of Adventures that featured breakfast at a local restaurant with hibachi-style imbedded grills on each table. Their schtick is that you get to create your own pancakes with individualized add-ins and toppings. We also visited my daughter’s girlfriend at her gourmet cheese workplace, hit up a fun barcade, and then watched the original 1935 Bride of Frankenstein on the big screen. Lastly we picked up a gluten-free pizza to enjoy at home.

    This switch to experiences instead of stuff has brought so much joy into my family’s culture through the years. We really do look forward to this time together on one another’s birthdays.

  3. My mother and I just spent four days in Houston, Texas to attend a NASA event honoring my uncle for his sixty years of service. (I didn’t have to employ any self control for NASA branded tchotchkes, as we never hit a gift shop because the event was held in the actual robotics lab!) I was able to wrangle a one-on-one tour from the “Space Exploration Vehicle Chief Engineer” that was a million giant steps beyond fascinating. I took an embarrassing number of photos, as well as videos for my sister’s high school earth science students. My brain is still buzzing.

    Is it too late for me to train to become a NASA engineer? I think I missed my calling.

    We also spent an afternoon with extended family exploring Galveston and the Bolivar peninsula. We took a free ferry between the two areas and got out of our cars to enjoy the sights of swooping pelicans and unexpected sprays of gulf water. But the true highlight was discovering a group of dolphins while driving next to an inlet.

  4. I packed snacks and a library book for the flights, my only souvenirs were consumables, (pecan pie) and a flannel western-style Goodwill shirt for my husband, I mended a plastic laundry basket using zip-ties, I rearranged the furniture in my living room for a buy-nothing fresh look, I brought my scuffed up thrifted suitcase and I didn’t freak out when a seagull pooped on my shoe as I know it’s just a thing that can be washed.

  5. I didn’t buy a Lear Jet or a vulgar gold-plated apartment in the sky.

Now your turn. What frugal things have you been up to?

Katy Wolk-Stanley    

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

Click HERE to follow The Non-Consumer Advocate on Twitter.
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Disclosure: The eBay link is an affiliate link, which means that I earn a small percentage from any purchases you make through eBay within a few days of clicking on my link. This costs nothing extra to you.

{ 73 comments }

Five Frugal Things

by Katy on October 4, 2019 · 71 comments

  1. I sold an autographed copy of Katherine Dunn’s Geek Love that I’d found at the Goodwill Outlet, (I accepted an offer on the book, but still made a good profit) as well as four Mary Engelbreit magazines from 1992.

    I also picked up a set of four $6.99 vintage dining room chair for resale. I actually had them sold, (the person loved them so much that she Paypal’d me the money) but returned the funds when I realized they were wobblier than I first realized. I’m going to reglue a few joints and anticipate being able to sell them again without any problem. Meanwhile, my dining room is sporting that “furniture showroom” aesthetic that often invades my home.

  2. My friend Lise and I took our laptops to Ikea so we could “parallel play” while slurping down their free coffee. I finished up an article I’d already drafted at home and then answered some important emails and sent out invoices.

    It’s certainly more of a schlep to go to Ikea rather than a local coffee shop, but the bean juice is free and we don’t feel bad about hogging a table for an extended period of time.

    Lise returned a set of twin-XL sheets that her daughter never opened, and then redeemed part of her store credit to treat me to a bagel with lox. Thanks, Lise!

  3. My husband and I forked over two bucks apiece to see a movie at the Academy Theater here in Portland. They normally charge just $4 per ticket, but that price gets cuts in half on Tuesdays. (So yes, we see a lot of Tuesday movies!) We chose The Farewell, which was a wonderful movie about a family’s decision to not tell their grandmother she was dying of cancer. Set mostly in China, it was a moving and insightful glimpse into this family’s dynamics and culture.

  4. I nipped into Costco for cat food, chicken broth and gasoline as it was close to Ikea, I picked up library hold books, I mended a sheet, I cooked up a huge batch of chicken soup with rice, I stopped into Trader Joe’s and bought nothing more than their 19¢ bananas, I wore the same jeans three (four?) days in a row, I’m cooking up bulk purchased pinto beans for tonight’s burrito bar dinner, I watched a couple episodes of Rich House, Poor House on YouTube, my husband attended a free social event through work that included an open bar and free hors d’eouvres, (I could have gone, but didn’t feel up for an evening of small talk) and I handed my packaged book over to the mail carrier instead of driving to the post office.

  5. I didn’t buy a Lear Jet or a vulgar gold-plated apartment in the sky.

Now your turn. What frugal things have you been up to?

Katy Wolk-Stanley    

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

Click HERE to follow The Non-Consumer Advocate on Twitter.
Click HERE to follow The Non-Consumer Advocate on Instagram.
Click HERE to join The Non-Consumer Advocate Facebook group.
Click HERE to follow The Non-Consumer Advocate on Pinterest.

Disclosure: The eBay link is an affiliate link, which means that I earn a small percentage from any purchases you make through eBay within a few days of clicking on my link. This costs nothing extra to you.

{ 71 comments }

Goodwill Hunting For Fine Art

by Katy on October 2, 2019 · 14 comments

I stopped into one of my local Goodwill stores yesterday and my eye was immediately drawn to a number of still life and landscape paintings. Not museum level pieces, but still sweet, lovely and 1000% better than any big box/mass produced artwork. Priced from $2.99 to $4.99, each piece was an unmitigated bargain.

Seriously, how sweet is this little oil painting?

Mind you, my Goodwill art finds often resemble . . . let’s just say “less genteel” specimens:

Every now and then a news story hits of a lucky thrift store shopper who happened upon some priceless painting, which always makes me wonder how many masterpieces have escaped my attention.

Perhaps this embroidered pilgrim?

Or these bunny-loving babes?

Of course, much Goodwill art falls between the extremes of Picasso and ridiculous, and I’ve purchased countless wonderful pieces of artwork through the years, both to keep and to sell.

I picked up this lovely Columbia Gorge landscape recently, and was so charmed that it now adorns the wall in our spare bedroom. I think I paid $4.99.

I also nabbed this serene mountain landscape:

As well as this sweet oval painting:

So as much as you may think that Goodwill artwork leans more towards “Raggedy Anne and Andy against a burlap background.”

There will always be wonderful artwork hidden on those Goodwill shelf.

As long as you’re willing to look behind the scary stuff.

Want to know more about Goodwill Industries of the Columbia Willamette? Check out MeetGoodwill.org, ShopGoodwill.com and GoodwillJobConnection.org to learn more about the important services that they provide for our community.

Katy Wolk-Stanley

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

Click HERE to follow The Non-Consumer Advocate on Twitter.
Click HERE to follow The Non-Consumer Advocate on Instagram.
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This has been a sponsored blog post.

{ 14 comments }