Confessions of Goodwill Junkie

by Katy on July 16, 2008 · 8 comments

I have a confession to make.

I 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 niece. 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.”

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Emily July 16, 2008 at 12:18 pm

I’ve been living a non-consumer life this year as we’ve been on sabbatical and away from our home. It is easy not to collect anything when we are living out of suitcases. But I’m not sure I’ll be able to take your route to non-consumerism when we go back to “real life”. It seems like in order to get everything used, one has to spend a lot of time thinking about ‘stuff’, shopping for ‘stuff’, and working on getting the ‘stuff.’ I don’t want to think about stuff at all! If the kids need some new shorts, I want to go to one place, buy them, and get on with life. Do you have any advice for a non-shopper in how to face thrift stores/goodwill/garage sales/etc.?


thenonconsumeradvocate July 16, 2008 at 6:28 pm


You ask some good questions. I will try my best to answer them in tomorrow’s blog.

Thanks for your comment,

-Katy Wolk-Stanley
The Non-Consumer Advocate


Linda July 17, 2008 at 2:48 pm

Hi Katy,

I’m totally with you on this one. We don’t have a local Goodwill here but I love my local AmVets thrift store! My last find was some baseball cleats for my son. I paid $4 for shoes that would have been $25 or more new. I also paid $5 for a slightly larger pair so that when he out grows the pair he’s wearing now, he’ll have another pair. I also found a couple of shirts that my teenage daughter actually likes (woo-hoo!) & paid $4 each, much less than the $20 each they go for at the mall! Not as good as your Sasha dolls but it was a good day for us none the less!



Loretta July 18, 2008 at 7:07 pm

$25 AUD on a gorgeous handmade queen size quilt, found at the local op shop (opportunity shop, as we Aussies call thrift stores). I haven’t been that excited over a purchase in years.
And $4 on a pair of nearly new leather knee-high boots for my daughter yesterday, just as her old (bought new) ones fell apart after a couple of months.
Love your blog.


Jessica Wolk-Stanley July 20, 2008 at 11:39 pm

I had the thrill of visiting the huge Seattle Goodwill today with my sister and my mother-in-law who is visiting us from New Jersey. We found all kinds of goodies. I am itching to start knitting with the scads of high-quality wool I bought for about $10. All that yarn would easily retail for $100 or more. Also, recently returned (as of today actually) from Alaska, I found a brand new stuffed animal moose with a scarf that reads “Alaska” for only 50 cents. I swear I saw the identical toy up there for about 15 bucks. In fact, my motto while on vacation was that I could “find that at Goodwill for a dollar.” It also seems silly to buy souvenirs of Alaska that are not made in Alaska (unless they are 50 cents). I could go on and on, but for us, the pleasure of Goodwill is the surprise of what you may find.


Tara July 28, 2008 at 6:32 am

I know a retired gentlemen who supplements his social security with a daily round to the local thrift stores including Goodwill. I recently ran into him with his jewelers ring checking out silverware and china. On this trip I found a 13 cup handblown Chemex coffee pot for 3 bucks, that was a score now we have a plastic free coffee pot.


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