Goodwill, Badwill, Questionable-will & Maybe a Bit of Fabulous-will

by Katy on October 27, 2017 · 23 comments

I love, love, love the Portland area Goodwill stores. And although I’m on a mostly pay-by-the-pound Outlet kick lately, there are still bargains and entertaining oddities to be found at their regular retail stores as well.

I don’t have a specific list of items I keep an eye out for, although there are general categories of things that draw me in.

Odd Things: 

I didn’t buy any of the items in the following photo collage. Especially not the infant/doll/dog sweatshirt that boasts that it “brought sexy back.” None of the wearers should be considered “sexy,” so yes, it warranted a photo op.

Targeted Savings Banks:

Of course, I’m always on the lookout for what I call “targeted savings banks.” And Goodwill does not disappoint. That barrel of money? Totally empty!

Bait and switch, Goodwill. Bait and switch!

Fodder For Selfies:

There are some Goodwill items that beg to take photos with me, and who am I to refuse that request. I didn’t buy any of these things, although I kind of regret not getting the satin bomber jacket.

The Good Stuff:

However, not all Goodwill items get left behind, as I enjoy a good flip to plump up the ol’ college fund. All four of these items recently made it into my cart and out of the store.

  • The vintage Dremel electric shoe polisher worked perfectly and had good completed sales on eBay, so I bought it to resell. However, my husband bonded with it, which means that it now lives at his workplace for his shiny boot needs.

  • The Vans woven throw blanket looked brand new and also had good completed sales on eBay. I listed it on eBay and quickly sold it to someone who lived not far from me in Portland.

  • The striped suitcase was a collaboration between a high end designer and Target. (Her designs are normally sold at Lord & Taylor.) It was only offered briefly and had a great resale value. It was in excellent condition and I was able to sell it for a nice profit through Craigslist. This purchase was an example of how I try to only buy items for resale if I’d be happy to keep them if it turns out that my instincts were off. It was super cute with a cheery bright apple green interior.

  • The over the door hooks are a knock off/inspired by the Eames hang-it-all system that normally sells for $199. Again, I figured it would be handy to own if I couldn’t find a buyer. Luckily my instincts were right on this one, as I bought it yesterday, listed it on Facebook Marketplace last night and already have three interested buyers. It won’t make a big profit as I priced it pretty low, but it will pay for the chocolate malteds that my mother and I enjoyed yesterday afternoon.

The great thing about thrift shopping is that you can buy high quality items without paying high quality prices.

Just yesterday I paid $19.84 and bought:

  • A Talbots down puffer vest.

  • Four pairs of $50 – $225 jeans for resale.

  • New looking Levi’s and a Pendleton wool sweater for my husband.

  • The perfect color coiling phone cord for one of my vintage phones.

  • A new in package paint brush.

  • A Vera Bradley purse.

I call that fabulous-will!

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.

{ 23 comments… read them below or add one }

Dale Emanuel October 27, 2017 at 9:59 am

While I do work for Goodwill, I don’t get a chance, unless a weekend, to take it all in. (Typically, on the weekend I want to stay far away from work). Thank you for the laughs and support Katy — we are forever your greatest fans!


Katy October 27, 2017 at 10:58 am

Aww, thanks!


Farhana October 27, 2017 at 10:03 am

Where is this Goodwill Outlet?
Thank you.


Peg October 28, 2017 at 6:57 pm
Angela @ Tread Lightly, Retire Early October 27, 2017 at 10:06 am

I went to college in Salem so was up in Portland quite a bit. I’d have to say, living in a couple other states and visiting thrift stores elsewhere, Portland has hands down the best ones I’ve been to.


Jan October 27, 2017 at 10:27 am

Ya know, I think I may need to trail behind you at the Goodwill and figure out how you do this. I go to them for the same purpose and walk out with crapola. I need training! 🙂 Glad you had such good luck!


Katy October 27, 2017 at 10:57 am

It’s so random. There was a lot of crap, but then I hit a rich vein with the pricey jeans.


Teresa October 27, 2017 at 11:20 am

Maybe you can write a book or blog about how to thrift and what to thrift? You are the Queen of thrifting… a blog might be good because things that are “in” change quickly but you seem to have a handle on what’s hip at the moment, what sells, for what price and when the things move..


Janie October 27, 2017 at 11:37 am

You are awesome! What an eye for bargains you have! Our Goodwills and DAV’s in Wichita are not nearly as good as the ones in Portland, so I’m jealous.


Knitter4444 October 27, 2017 at 12:23 pm

I live right near the large GW on Gaarde.. FIGURED..Great one


Cathy October 27, 2017 at 1:29 pm

Love these posts! I hit up 3 different thrift shops this morning, on the hunt for resale items. Total bust. You’re my inspiration to keep on hunting 🙂 It does pay off, and it’s super fun to boot!


Liz B. October 27, 2017 at 4:15 pm

Great finds, Katy! You give me ongoing inspiration to keep on with my thrift flipping. I love the idea of buying things you wouldn’t mind keeping if no one comes forward to buy it. Makes so much sense. And Portland clearly has way, way better GWs than my little part of southwest Ohio, though the GW Outlet in Dayton gave me my favorite paint by numbers paintings, for which I will be forever grateful.


Katy October 27, 2017 at 9:15 pm

Hey, I went to Antioch college and did a lot of thrifting in your area. Of course, it was the late 1980’s.


Jen from California October 27, 2017 at 7:49 pm

Nice finds! Love the flips and the funnies. Our Santa Cruz by-the-pound GW closed down and I have yet to make the trek to the new one down South, about a 40 minute drive away in Stab City. So I miss my own hunting and have fun seeing yours. We hit all of the local GW stores around here but sometimes the prices are higher than new! But always good for a laugh or two.


Diane C October 28, 2017 at 7:11 pm



Nancy October 28, 2017 at 9:27 am

we actually visit the regular Goodwill of every time we come to Portland but I didn’t really realize they had an outlet store. Great finds and I have already sold one item I bought at Goodwill last weekend within two days and find lots there for home at cetera as well. I like the fact that they create jobs at the Goodwill stores and aren’t just a thrift store to make money. We have the Idaho Youth Ranch thrift stores in Idaho and they provide services to many troubled youth and Families.


A. Marie October 29, 2017 at 12:32 pm

I can’t match Katy’s awesome finds, of course. But heck, after spraining one ankle and putting a minor break in the other two weeks ago, I’m just happy to be getting out and thrifting anywhere, anyhow. (Update: The right ankle sprain is officially over with, and the left ankle break is doing nicely in a brace.)

So, anyway, I made it to the Unitarian Universalist rummage sale Saturday and my favorite synagogue rummage sale on Sunday. Notable finds:

No clothes at the UU sale. But I found a leaky cauldron (no kidding, Harry Potter fans; I plan to use it as an outdoor planter!), two books, four canning jars, a brand-new leather-bound personal organizer (I guess no one does this in hard copy any more except fossils like me), two “Bonger” neck pain relievers new in the box (along with a hilarious “Bonger News” enclosure), a fine healthy jade plant, and a few other smalls, for $12. A bargain, I’d say.

I was a little late to the synagogue sale, because it’s been raining cats and dogs here since dusk yesterday and I didn’t want to stand in line in the rain with my bad ankle for the bums’ rush. But the weather may have affected the early turnout, because I did plenty OK for $20 despite getting there at noon: A Chicos shirt and pair of jeans, a Talbots linen jacket, an Eddie Bauer men’s cotton sweater for DH, two more books, a brown violin glass vase to match the blue one I already own, a pashmina shawl, two Lands’ End long-sleeved knit tops, and (best of all) a small Wedgwood jasperware dish with a profile of Shakespeare for my Shakespeare- and Wedgwood-loving BFF down in NYC. (Several of the other things are intended for holiday gifts, too. I’ve trained my friends well.)


Cathy October 29, 2017 at 5:03 pm

The only Goodwill in my area has the WORST prices I’ve seen at thrift stores: $5 for those clear glass vases, $15 jeans, Sigh…
Oh, ho I wish there was a GW Outlet in the area. Until then it’s the rockin’ Salvation Army and Hospice Thrift Shoppe for me!!


Roberta October 30, 2017 at 5:29 am

It’s funny that your GW is expensive and your SA is cheap… it’s the opposite down here. Last time I went to Salvation Army they were asking $8.50 for children’s sundresses! Even at 75% that’s a little steep for me!


Mary W October 29, 2017 at 7:03 pm

I was a little bummed on my trip to the PDX Goodwill Outlet store a few days ago – the prices have taken a real jump – 29% inflation since the week before. Granted, you can still get a lot of good bargains at 1.29/lb, but I was rather fond of the .99/lb price.

I was looking for a blue wig for my “Thing 1″ costume, and was hoping to find one at the bins, but no luck there. I was, however, able to find a couple of high-end down duvets (they are quite washable, but people seem to donate them when they get dirty instead of attempting to clean them). I just put them in a bathtub full of hot water and DT generic Oxiclean and Dawn dish soap. One cuts the dirt and stains and the other gets the dirt and oils. I have a laundry plunger that works very well to agitate the hot, soapy water through the duvet (one at a time). I spin them out in the washer, but my top loader doesn’t do a good job of getting the down fully saturated and down in the wash water, so it’s the bathtub for that. The rinse is also in the tub with some vinegar in warm water, and another spin dry. Pop them in the dryer with some tennis balls, and 9 times out of 10, they come out fluffy and dry, beautifully clean and ready for use or resale.

Along with the down duvets, I also found a really nice golf bag and hand cart, and a full set of clubs. I was looking for the bag and cart combo, as I want one for my garden tools – shovels, hoes and rakes store well in a golf bag and the hand cart makes it really easy to move them around the garden. But, I wasn’t going to pass up a full set of clubs, either – even at about $24 for the bag and clubs, there is still some good resale value to be had on the clubs. Now to get them photographed and posted on the local fb buy/sell pages.

Of course, I also came home with some nice clothes for my daughter and myself, as well as a nice little 4 wheeled hard case carry-on suitcase and a huge suitcase that expands from a fairly small kind of duffel bag/suitcase fusion to a 4′ tall monstrosity on wheels. I’m kind of rethinking this purchase as although it has 4 wheels on the bottom and more on one edge, it only has handles on the top of the bag – no great way to steer it or lift it in and out of vehicles. I might list it for resale. It served its purpose, though – it was big enough to stuff BOTH duvets AND all the clothing (other than what I used to cushion glassware) into with room to spare!

I also found several really nice pieces of crystal and glass serving plates, a small Pyrex mixing bowl and 2 9×13” Pryex pans, and nearly a dozen canning jars. I use the fancy crystal and glass items as the bases of gifts. Add some homemade goodies and wrap them and it makes a great gift for nearly any occasion, frugally. And I’m always on the outlook for canning jars – my goal is to have enough canning jars and lids on hand to can up the contents of my freezers if the power is ever out long enough that it becomes the only way to save the food from spoiling, plus all the jars I need for normal canning every year.

I finally found the perfect “hair” for my costume at the regular Goodwill on NE Halsey – a knit hat with the “hairy yarn” sticking up all over, and in the perfect shade of Thing One and Two Blue. 😀 1.99, but the green tags were 50% off, so I got it for .99. I had been looking at buying blue spray on hair coloring, which was a LOT more, so I was pretty happy. They also had various Halloween make up kits and other goodies 4/$1, so I picked up white cream face paint, glow in the dark white face paint, a complete kit of colors and sponges, and a book of pumpkin carving patterns and tools. You had to buy 4 items or pay full price for each one, hence the pumpkin carving items. I plan to gift them to someone.

My entire costume came from GW, GWO, or DT. I found the Thing One t-shirt, long sleeved red t-shirt and my red warm up pants at GWO, the hair and makeup at GW and the red socks to complete the footie look at DT. I made a missing poster for Thing 2, complete with picture, “last seen in the company of” with a Cat In The Hat picture, and “suspect vehicle” with a picture of the Cleaner Upper machine. It also stated not to approach suspect if spotted, as he might be dangerous (especially if your mother is out), but to call 1-800-CTh-ing2. Didn’t win any prizes for my costume, but I really had fun with it Friday night. It was a lot more fun being inventive than it would have been to buy or rent a commercial costume, not to mention how much less it cost!


Tracy October 30, 2017 at 5:11 am

I had a sadly unfrugal weekend with my women besties at the coast, including splurging on a full price (and expensive) yellow raincoat while out shopping with “the girls” (a term we should likely discard as we are all well north of 50 and quickly approaching 60). I supposed the only good news is that 1) I can’t even remember the last time I paid full price for an item of clothing; 2) it is classic and well made and I will wear it often for years; and 3) due to a relatively frugal lifestyle most of the time I can afford it without difficulty. We also had a spa day. The whole weekend was lovely BUT it’s clearly time to get back on the frugal path so thank you all for this week’s inspiration!


WilliamB October 30, 2017 at 5:14 am

My Goodwill isn’t great for prices or selection, which is perpetual puzzlement to me, given that it is where most of the local rich people donate their stuff.

Where I usually do well is used book sales. The other day I saw one at a local public school. Five dollars for a bag of books (the usual is $10) and while I was looking around, someone came by with FIVE complete boxed sets of American Girl books. You will be pleased to hear that I did not hog all five – I left three for others.


cc October 30, 2017 at 9:56 am

Came across this and thought of your post on goodwill. It’s spooky figurines.


Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: