Goodwill, Badwill, Questionable-will

by Katy on March 28, 2017 · 37 comments

Goodwill may have a mission to help those with barriers to employment, but to me they’re a study in what people declutter from their homes. An anthropologic study of sorts. For example:

Pointless souvenirs. The Netherlands have somehow convinced their tourists of the necessity to purchase decorative clogs, clogs and more clogs. Large and small, wooden and ceramic, singles and pairs. I call this Dutch Tulip Fever. Bonus points for the windmill imagery.

Targeted savings banks. Whether they’re extremely specific . . . .

Or frustratingly vague.

There’s always cute vintage stuff that’s sure to get snapped up.

Even though they can be marked by the names of those long forgotten.

Thrift stores consistently abound with ill advised craft projects.

But my favorites are always going to be the bafflingly bizarre. Like these Birkenstocks, for which a basketball heroically gave its life. So bright! So pebbly! No surprisingly . . . unworn.

I actually began a speech which began, “Gather around people, as I present to you the ugliest pair of shoes ever created!”

Makes me wish that my family had a tradition of white elephant parties . . .

Oh Goodwill, your wonders never cease to amaze!

Katy Wolk-Stanley

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

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{ 37 comments… read them below or add one }

Betty Winslow March 28, 2017 at 9:16 am

I must have those shoes…. our leadership group has a yearly white elephant party and those are the plu ultra example!!


Katy March 28, 2017 at 10:21 am

They would be so perfect for a white elephant party!


A. Marie March 28, 2017 at 11:37 am

I’m sorry to say that those Birkenstocks would probably be considered haute couture in my basketball-mad city. But I dislike both Birkenstocks and basketball, and I agree that the shoes are hideous in their own right, so they’re safe from me.


Lindsey March 28, 2017 at 1:03 pm

I kind of like those shoes, but obviously I am in the minority. I love Crocs, too.


Susanne g March 28, 2017 at 3:23 pm



MB Danielson March 28, 2017 at 9:36 am

Betcha those ceramic clogs are not from the Netherlands… but from Holland, MI, where they have tourist shops that never stop all year long. I did visit the Netherlands and never saw such cheesy souvenirs.. then again I spent a lot of time eating french fries with mayo…


Mairsydoats March 29, 2017 at 7:47 am

Or Pella, IA. Just saying.


Lucy March 29, 2017 at 4:58 pm

HA! I lived in the Netherlands for 2 years and escaped sans clogs.


Carolyn Arnett March 28, 2017 at 9:39 am

My daughter and I have an imanigary house we have been decorating for years with the most horrific of stuff we see. The frog macrame would fit right in with the picture of (insert name of choice) painted on black velvet with a clock in his stomach. We are easy to entertain!


Carolyn Arnett March 28, 2017 at 9:40 am

That was “imaginary”


K D March 28, 2017 at 9:55 am

The Birkenstocks made me laugh. Thanks for brightening my day.


Mary in Maryland March 28, 2017 at 10:05 am

The big thrift stores also give insights into the last huge fad. The bread machine numbers are falling off, but George Foreman grilling machines (I gave the one from my sister-in-law to them a few years ago) and free-standing quesadilla machines are clogging the shelves now.


susan March 28, 2017 at 11:18 am

And s’more makers and panini presses… and the iced tea making machines are overly abundant in the Goodwills around here lately…

Every time I see one of those ceramic banks, I think of this blog and chuckle.

There are great things to be found in the thrift stores… but only if I am not looking for them… LOL… Sometimes there is so much that it is overwhelming to me.


A. Marie March 28, 2017 at 11:40 am

I agree that one-purpose-only machines will always be on view at any thrift store–but I’m going to make a special plea for my bread machine, since we do enjoy homemade bread and the machine saves my arthritic hands a lot of work. (It was also a gift, so I didn’t spend actual hard-earned cash on it.)


Vickey March 29, 2017 at 6:35 am

And even if you had paid for it, they pay for themselves over time if they’re made use of. Ours paid for itself in about a year, maybe less.


Pattilou March 29, 2017 at 6:59 am

I love my George Foreman grill. I got it as a gift for Christmas years ago and use it all the time to make grilled sandwiches and paninis. Yum.


Diane C March 31, 2017 at 8:26 am

We love ours so much the non-stick plates are getting worn. I’ll keep an eye out for a “new” one at GW. Thanks for the tip!

Jennifer C March 28, 2017 at 11:00 am

There’s several of those macrame frog towels holders on Etsy.


susan March 28, 2017 at 11:19 am

People actually buy them? WOW!


Renee March 28, 2017 at 11:44 am

No, people actually try to *sell* them. There’s a difference… 😉


Jennifer March 28, 2017 at 11:26 am

I love the shoes. Pretty sure they would go with my mosh mosh of a wardrobe.


Tracy March 28, 2017 at 12:08 pm

Hmmm — macramé is actually making a big come back but I don’t know about green frog macramé. As a huge Goodwill fan I agree it is nothing if not an amazing living museum of American excess. On the other hand, my “buy nothing new” year is going swimmingly even with me satisfying my wardrobe wants (not needs) with retail therapy at the Goodwill. It is amazing how much high quality, stylish clothing one can find… at very reasonable prices.


That Other Jean March 28, 2017 at 12:52 pm

Hmmmm. I actually have a spot (out in the laundry room) where that frog would fit right in. Thank heaven I haven’t seen one in any Goodwill I’ve been in yet.


Bee March 28, 2017 at 1:08 pm

Goodwill and thrift stores are always a source of entertainment as well as quality merchandise. You can find the good, the bad and the ugly. Some crazed so Oregon basketball fan might decide those shoes are just the thing. 🙂


AmyWW March 28, 2017 at 2:06 pm

Katy, I walked into a Goodwill today to see if there was any chance that I could find an electric knife that I need to trim a few inches off of a memory foam mattress. There was one! I am so happy today, and thanks to you I thought of checking the Goodwill for it. I had thought about asking around to see if any friends had one to borrow, but I’m not sure that it won’t be ruined after using it on the mattress.


Mary W March 28, 2017 at 2:11 pm

I used my electric knife on a memory foam mattress and it worked great.
Knife is still fine, too.


Katy March 28, 2017 at 4:23 pm



Mrs. Picky Pincher March 28, 2017 at 2:56 pm

In defense of clogs, I did buy an actual pair of them in the Netherlands during my travels. I ended up using them quite a bit–they make perfect gardening shoes!


janine March 28, 2017 at 7:25 pm

My grandmother was of Dutch ancestry and when my grandfather married her and moved into a Dutch community, he was presented with clogs which he apparently used for gardening. I have a cup with a “cow” on the handle from Holland which was so tacky I bought it. To be clear, I found it in a thrift shop for $1 and it has provided me with smiles and laughter ever since.


Katy March 28, 2017 at 4:17 pm

I didn’t think anything could be worse than that Daytona beach vacation fund jar, and THEN i saw those shoes. Oh man! Goodwill is always good for some laughs while you hunt for a bargain.


AnnW March 28, 2017 at 5:09 pm

Those basketball clogs would be perfect to wear to work during March Madness! You also could have sold them on eBay. remember, ugly sells!


Alison March 29, 2017 at 7:56 am

My cousin lives in Amsterdam and recent married his long time partner who is Dutch, and they gave out those little pairs of clogs as gifts to everyone at the wedding. I put mine on my Christmas tree.


Mariana March 29, 2017 at 8:15 am

That’s what I am doing with any and all small souvenirs / gifts. I turn them int our Christmas Tree ornaments. Fun and frugal 😉


Carol March 29, 2017 at 8:45 am

Katy, be glad you don’t have a white elephant gift exchange. We had to discontinue ours after almost coming to blows. Yes we had the one where you can claim someone else’s gift.


Julie March 29, 2017 at 9:31 am

My Grandmother had a set of the metal slat & pepper shakers. I wish that I had her set–for memories.


Rowen G. March 29, 2017 at 12:04 pm

Saw something recently that would have fit right in here: a “goblet” – or perhaps it was supposed to be a lantern? – made by gluing a 1-cup canning jar atop a pressed glass candlestick. The candlestick on its own would have merely been mildly tacky, the jar potentially useful, but the combination was downright weird. (They were two slightly different shades of “clear” glass, too.)


AFS March 29, 2017 at 7:36 pm

I see those all the time at thrift stores. I think it might be part of a wedding centerpiece DIY (gone bad?) if I see one I usually see several. Another variation is a fancy plate hot glued to a candlestick.


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