Confessions of a Goodwill Junkie

by Katy on March 23, 2009 · 29 comments

The following is a reprint is from a previously published blog. Enjoy!

I have a confession to make.

love Goodwill thrift shops.

Not like I love ice-cream. No, that’s just an extreme guilty pleasure. I mean the kind of visceral reaction where your eyes dilate and your skin flushes.

L-O-V-E, love.

I’m vacationing in Seattle this week, and swung by the Ballard Goodwill on my family’s way to the zoo.

It’s embarrassing, but the moment I walked into the store, my entire body went into relaxation mode. The kinks in my shoulders, and my ever present nagging low-back pain simply melted away.

Ahh . . .

I know the merchandise is often overpriced. But that’s the deal, Non-Consumers — the pricing is random. You may get an incredible deal on something fabulous, and it’s balanced by other stuff being priced bizarrely high.

That’s where the thrill of the hunt comes in. It’s your job as the predator, (cue snarly noise) to find the great deals. It’s not your job to pay $9.99 for a used pair of Target brand kid’s pants, (Honestly folks, I saw this today). Your task is to hunt down the $200 item, that’s now marked for $5.


I once found a stash of 5 Sasha dolls at my favorite Goodwill. I sold one for $1000, and the others for between $250 and $450. One I gave to my nephew. It was a very good day.

From the $15 antique desk I use to pen my angry letters to Mr. Darcy, (”You seem to be laboring under a misapprehension!”) to the funky $1 kitchen chair that matches my 1950’s dinette set, my house is a walking advertisement for Goodwill.

When I buy my family’s clothes, household goods, gifts and books at Goodwill, I know that I am not contributing to the issues of over-consumption and excessive packaging. I am keeping other people’s impulse purchases from becoming garbage. And I’m not being part of the consumer demands for more, more, more newly manufactured goods.

Let the regular people fill their closets with fabulous, newly purchased stuff. I’ll be the one patiently waiting at Goodwill for your donations. You’ll recognize me by my dilated eyes and pink glow.

Have you scored big at your neighborhood Goodwill, or other thrift store?

Tell us about it in the comments section below.

Katy Wolk-Stanley

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

{ 29 comments… read them below or add one }

Elizabeth B March 24, 2009 at 12:58 am

Oh yeah. Cambio jeans for $7. A silk Tahari gown for $14. Calvin jeans for $7. Baby. I so love Goodwill.


Meredith March 24, 2009 at 6:59 am

A 1950s cedar chest worth $300 for $12.99 (Value Village, not Goodwill) was my favourite score. It’s now our coffee table. My mom regularly shows up with designer kids’ clothes for my boys that she usually paid $2 or less for. And my entire maternity wardrobe.


Jeanine March 24, 2009 at 7:18 am

I wish our Goodwill had an even decent selection of…..anything.

I guess after the storm (Katrina), people donated so much water soaked, mold infested stuff that our Goodwill just quit accepting things. And now that that period is slowly coming to an end, no one wants to donate their brand new FEMA/MEMA/Insurance money bought stuff. I don’t blame them.

I know I looked at a beautiful dresser that was full of mold on the inside back behind the drawers. Last year.

Price on tag: 20.00.
Price for medical bills, bleach, and the dump to haul it away? About 300.00.

No thank you.

It’s a really depressing thing that our town is so small, that when I donate things to Goodwill…freshly laundered, in better than good condition, mind you, I go in the store within the next couple of weeks and see my own things looking back at me from the racks and shelves.

What really REALLY gets me, is that there is a salvage store right next door, that I can buy brand new things, ALL NAME BRAND things, ususally CHEAPER than the thrift stores.

*cue eye roll and teeth suck*


Tina March 24, 2009 at 7:50 am

Goodwill is crack to my pipe.


Tiffany March 24, 2009 at 9:44 am

On Sunday I got a brand new Anne Taylor Loft shirt for $4.25. It still had the tags on it! Over the past three weeks I also got three pairs of Steve Madden shoes in great condition! They were $5 or less each. And then yesterday I got a retro turntable/radio cabinet at the Salvation Army for $20. The record player works great, the speakers sound awesome, and the radio picks up way more stations than any other radio in my house.


Tam March 24, 2009 at 10:30 am

I’ve been stalking your blog for a while now and I just can’t get enough!!!
I LOVE Goodwill too although their prices seem to be getting higher as well, I still love hunting as you say, for the deals to be found!
Since you’re from Portland and often visit Seattle, I gotta ask… do you ever shop Goodwill outlet?
I’ve become addicted to our Seattle outlet…where treasures are to be found by the pound! There’s no rhyme or reason like in other thrift stores, everything is thrown together in bins and you dig (or hunt) for treasure!


Sarah March 24, 2009 at 10:55 am

I tried to give our thrift store another chance, hoping to find great deals – it’s awful. It’s Salvation Army and everything is so overpriced – an old, icky, 1980’s comforter for $40? I can buy the stuff new for cheaper. I’ve been having better luck at garage sale (especially for kids’ things) – come on summer! 🙂


Daphne March 24, 2009 at 1:39 pm

Well, I just returned from my neighborhood Goodwill, and am quite sad to learn that they will no longer sell children’s clothes size 12 and under. I have a teen and tween daughter, and have always made it a practice to donate their beautiful, well made, stylish clothes. It makes me sick to realize that the things I’ve donated during the last few months may already be smoldering in a landfill.


lala2074 March 24, 2009 at 2:13 pm

Katie, I am a recent convert to Goodwill shopping, as it is helping me in my Buy Nothing New Year this year.
I visit the local Goodwill every week or so, usually on a Wednesday afternoon as that is when they receive new stock for the week.
One of my favourite finds was a stovetop coffee percolator in stainless steel for $10.
Last week, I purchased an Armani Exchange label top for $6!
I know that feeling of anticipation as you enter the shop wondering what little gems are inside today!


Marci March 24, 2009 at 2:24 pm

Oh yes……..thrift shops give me such a high!! My best deals….a Oneida silver candy dish for 25 cents, a Waterford crystal dish for 50 cents, and my most favorite thing…an Evan Picone black wool blazer for $1.00!


blackgirlinmaine March 24, 2009 at 2:52 pm

I agree that the pleasure of Goodwill shopping is in finding the treasures. My best score to date was the breadmaker I got for $3.99, it had no price so the clerk said does 3.99 sound good.I got it home and it works beautifully.

I must admit though some of their clothing can be overpriced…I agree paying $1-2 less than the retail value on a Target item is not good.


Jean March 24, 2009 at 4:03 pm

Can you tell me why I can no longer find the chapter reviews of “Simple Prosperity: Finding Real Wealth in a Sustainable Lifestyle” on your blog any more? I was looking forward to the next chapter.


thenonconsumeradvocate March 24, 2009 at 4:19 pm


Fear not, future chapters will come. I’ve just been busy a busy nurse, mother, maid and snoozer.

-Katy Wolk-Stanley
The Non-Consumer Advocate


WilderMiss March 24, 2009 at 4:26 pm

I think my experience has been the oposite of most here. I had never shopped at a thrift shop and deicided to check out my neigborhood Value Village for a piece I wanted for a recent decorating project.

I ended up paying $50 for a small table. It’s cute as heck, fits perfectly, and I can’t wait to give it a little DIY makeover. But after supplies I’ll end up paying about $70 for my little table.

Dangit! I guess I have a lot to learn about thrifting. At least this way I didn’t contribute to more new goods being manufactured (my main concern anyway).

Question: can you bargain at thrift shops or is the marked price the final word?


tam March 24, 2009 at 4:31 pm

I ventured into my local Goodwill the other day and found a pair of Prada shoes in great condition…for $40. I guess that even at Goodwill in Miami, there’s a premium price for designer goods…

Love the blog, keep up the great work!


mindfulmama March 24, 2009 at 5:41 pm

Oh Katy- I drove past my favorite thrift store tonight, unable to go in, but I felt the opposite sensation that you have – I got completely revved up – scary, almost drooling even. I saw the most beautiful chest of drawers in the window that was most definitely not there 2 days ago when I was there. Now I MUST find a way to bet back there to see what they are asking for it…
My best thrift deal?? A set of ’60s dining chairs for $10. We recovered them and used them for a good 12 years before they fell apart forever.


Eli March 24, 2009 at 6:06 pm

Oh man, there are so many reasons I LOVE this post, but this might be the best reason: “the $15 antique desk I use to pen my angry letters to Mr. Darcy, (”You seem to be laboring under a misapprehension!”)” Mr. Darcy… sigh…

I do donate constantly, but I really don’t frequent Goodwill as a customer as often as I should. Target is so bright and shiny, but you have inspired me to be more adventurous!


Tara Morrison March 24, 2009 at 6:47 pm

One of my prized possessions as a caffeine junkie is my $2.49 hand blown twelve cup chemex coffee pot!
I am sure there are other things I love but not like this…


Jean March 24, 2009 at 6:55 pm

I have a group of friends who even when we go out of town look up the thrift shops rather than hit the malls. I have bought Schumacher Waverly valances that match my kitchen wallpaper for $2.00 each–$49.00 each at Penneys! Two of us are book junkies and immediatly head for the book shelves, and many of my Sag Harbor wool blazers have been purchased at thrift stores. One of these ladies has a son who is getting married in the fall and begged her to please not buy her mother of the groom dress at the DAV store. Our advice–just don’t tell him!


Dana March 24, 2009 at 9:12 pm

Most children play “house,” or “school”, or even “doctor”. My girls play “Goodwill”! They pretend to go shopping at Goodwill. They are still young (5 and 3) and don’t really know the difference!



Cheapchick at Cheapnik March 24, 2009 at 9:32 pm

Forced to go to a work related wedding Saturday (husbands coworkers) and realized no skirt to wear. Tonight beautiful skirt $5, Jones New York pants for work $5 and Top $5. I looked at lunch for a new one – found nothing that would work. I am fortunate our goodwill has the best books and clothes. Not much in furniture though.


Barb March 24, 2009 at 9:51 pm

My favourite second hand store is a local Hospica Shop. They e mail you the good deals before they go on the floor. 🙂


Barb March 24, 2009 at 9:51 pm

oops, that’s Hospice!


Kristin @ klingtocash March 25, 2009 at 5:23 am

I understand what you mean when talking about prices. I was doing a tax return yesterday for a couple that had donated a lot of stuff to their local thrift shop. I went to the Salvation Army website to use their donation price list and was shocked by how much some of their stuff was worth. I thought it would total up to about $150, but using the low end value for all items except things with the tag still on, the value of their donation was over $600. If you are donating items to charity, you need to check out the list at


alunachic March 25, 2009 at 6:29 am

I am so glad, Katy, that you identified the sweet feeling that overcomes one in one’s favorite thrift spot! Mine is not Goodwill, but a little place called The Clothes Rack, managed by The Junior League of Richmond. I found a LaPerla Bra for ten cents (The Clothes Rack often has 90% off sales) and discovered it sold online for $89.00. This weekend I bought a Nicole Miller dress for ONE DOLLAR AND FIFTY CENTS! Nicole Miller sells online for $400 and up. I also bought a Kate Spade purse for two dollars last spring.
I do love the thrill of the chase and the conquest of THE HUNT –


chaotic kitten March 29, 2009 at 5:42 am

My name’s Kitten, and I’m a charity shop addict!

I guess they’re the same as goodwill stores are? Your article made me smile so much, I could totally recognise myself there!


Clean Simple April 3, 2009 at 11:15 am

Thrift stores can be addictive! I do like Value Village for work clothes–I go on the day a certain colour tag is $.99 and have picked up some great jackets (Ann Taylor, Ralph Lauren, etc) and suits (Classique Entier). Shoes are harder to find, as I wear a popular size so the good ones go quickly.

The trick is to have a list and buy only what you will use/need. It’s hard to curb impulse buying at the Goodwill since there’s such a huge variety of goods.


chaotic kitten April 5, 2009 at 11:10 am

I linked to this post from my blog 🙂


I love junk June 6, 2010 at 8:08 am

I love it when I get complements on something. They way where did you get it?… Goodwill!


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