Mugging For Goodwill

by Katy on January 27, 2020 · 42 comments

If there’s one thing that ties all the Goodwills together, it’s their groaning shelves of mugs. New mugs, old mugs, all kinds of mugs. Of course, me being the massive weirdo that I am, I’m not interested in any genteel attractive mugs like this hand painted specimen.

Perfect condition, lovely respectable saucer. If this mug were a car, it would be a Bentley.

Unlike this mug, which could more accurately be compared to a Yugo that’s 30% Bondo. Oh, who am I kidding? This mug is the best! Hilarious with a kick of functionality.

But there are an endless number of mugs, enough that I frequently come across personalized mugs with my very own name.

This one perfect encapsulates how I like to drink hot coffee and sit waaaaay too close to the TV.

Nailed it!

Then again, this mug might be the better one for me. My feline forward texts might read a little something like this:

“Meow, meow, meow, please stop peeing on my couch meow meow!”

Maybe I should cut down on my caffeine intake. Perhaps just half a cup?

As an RN, I know that caffeine suppresses your anti-diuretic hormone, which can lead to an increased number of bathroom trips.

There’s a mug for that!

But Goodwill mugs aren’t just for me, they’re for all members of the family — brothers, sisters, cousins, parents, grandparents, nephews, great uncles, and of course . . . “Maw.”

What about these unusual mugs? They look cool, right?

Wrong! This is a trick question. These “mugs” are actually neti pots, which are used to physically clear your sinuses. I see these ALL THE TIME shelved with mugs. They are neither mugs, nor are they tiny tea pots. They are for sticking up your nostrils.

Not a mug. Not. A. Mug!

But my very favorite kind of mug is a “Best Mom” mug, which are more common than you’d think. (Especially since you know each one of these had to be snuck of the house during nap time.)

Why do I take selfies with these mugs? Because I enjoy trolling my kids.

Text from mom?

“Sigh . . . she’s sent me another ‘Best Mom’ photo.”

Because that’s what the best moms do.

This oddball assortment of mugs might not slot into your personal aesthetic, but Goodwills offer every type of mug imaginable. The over-manufacture of consumer goods is a massive environmental issue, but when you choose to buy used, you avoid playing into this non-sustainable cycle.

Buying used = good!

Want to know more about Goodwill Industries of the Columbia Willamette? Check out, and
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.

{ 42 comments… read them below or add one }

Kathy January 27, 2020 at 8:10 am

I use mugs to plant succulent clippings to share with friends or as a small hostess or thank you gift.
My incredible frugal weekend trip to Phoenix fir a dog judging assignment
1. Air fare, hotel, Lyft were paid for by kennel club
2. I packed my water bottle to fill up at airports, packed power bars and snacks.
3. Enjoyed the free pretzels and Coke Zero on the airplane
4. Was well fed free breakfast, lunch and dinner
5. Took a book to read during downtime in hotel


priskill January 27, 2020 at 4:48 pm

Wow — that is frugal!


Jen January 27, 2020 at 8:38 am

I also see a lot of #1 Teacher mugs, with the original price tags on them. Teachers don’t want them! I do, however, look for Starbucks mugs at Goodwill since those seem to be collectible and I have made a few $$$ selling them on eBay.

Celebrated my 52nd bday with Katy in mind (Day of Fun). Told my family that all I wanted was a clean house so they cleaned it, even the baseboards! Best present ever and cost nothing. Also had a family outing (husband and 3 teens) to the Goodwill Outlet and spent 3 hours digging for treasures to re-sell. Included a beach walk and games. Best Day Ever!


Katy January 29, 2020 at 10:24 am

I can honestly say that I’ve cleaned my house’s baseboards a handful of times since I bought my house in 1996.


Jill A January 27, 2020 at 8:40 am

Love your mugs. I shopped in a Portland Goodwill. I don’t remember which one…it was close to the Botanical Garden. We walked from our Air Bnb. It was very nice and I would love to thrift in your city again.


Katy January 27, 2020 at 6:21 pm

Hmm . . . that might be the one on West Burnside, one of my faves.


Jill A January 28, 2020 at 12:20 pm

That looks like the one. We stayed in a house on Northwest Kearney Street.


Jill A January 28, 2020 at 12:20 pm

That looks like the one. We stayed in a house on Northwest Kearney Street.


Juhli January 27, 2020 at 9:47 am

I have to admit I bought 3 mugs from my local Goodwill last week to make sure we had enough non-disposable ones for a party soon. But they were all plain so not nearly as much fun as the ones you are showing!


KJD509 January 27, 2020 at 10:46 am

Yep. I buy white dishes and bowls at Goodwill. Not many match but the table looks just fine. Started when a helpful 3-year old knocked over a stack of 12 cereal bowls, breaking all but two. Mugs, though – we donate a box yearly and still have more than we could ever use. Ours hang on the wall, so you’d think we’d notice them reproducing but they somehow manage it secretly.


A. Marie January 27, 2020 at 1:06 pm

KJD, this speculation about how mugs secretly reproduce is taking my mind places it shouldn’t be going. (As my darling, dirty-minded, dearly missed mother used to say, “Get your mind out of the gutter and come on down in the sewer with me!” I’m afraid I inherited the tendency.)


KJD509 January 28, 2020 at 12:42 pm



Heidi Louise January 27, 2020 at 11:11 am

I recall the half-mug from my childhood, so that might well be vintage aged.

The stylized “P” on the “Went to P – Leave this mug alone” looks like the logo for Purdue University. The question now is if they knew it was a truly awful pun or an embarrassing mistake. I suppose the answer also depends on whether one went to rival Indiana University or not.


Bee January 27, 2020 at 2:03 pm

Thank you for your continued effort at raising awareness concerning consumer waste. I have not bought a mug for 20 years except at a thrift store or an estate sale. Mugs in every color, style, china pattern, shape and size can be found secondhand. I honestly believe that the production of mugs could cease completely and we would have enough on earth to last until 2050.


Heidi Louise January 27, 2020 at 3:30 pm

And we have enough stuffed animals to continue for a few decades past that! I firmly believe that every child should be issued one adorable stuffed animal at birth, and be able to choose one more upon reaching adulthood. That’s it.


tracy February 1, 2020 at 6:54 am

Agree Bee! I have a nice classic set of Dansk dishes (the white ones with the blue stripe around the edge). This started with some my Hubs brought to our marriage but I have added to it with pieces purchased used on craigslist and I always keep a lookout at Goodwill for the coffee mugs that match. I have a ton (we drink a lot of coffee!) and will always keep these dishes because they are sturdy and because I can fill in what I need at thrift store.


Ruby January 27, 2020 at 4:28 pm

My brother’s Christmas gift basket included a beautiful mug from Goodwill. Since he is a Star Trek fan, I tucked some spare Earl Gray teabags in the mug. The basket itself came from the Salvation Army, as did the Christmas cat tea towel tucked around the homemade cake and fudge. It was a big hit.


Lynda January 29, 2020 at 5:44 am

Sign of the times from Picard:
“Earl Grey: decaf…”


Ruby January 29, 2020 at 8:11 am

We laughed a lot at that.


Katy January 29, 2020 at 10:30 am

I noticed that as well! I’m going to rewatch the first episode again before the second episode airs on Thursday.


Teri January 27, 2020 at 7:08 pm

What is it about Goodwill that I manage to find so MANY things I didn’t know I needed? (But not mugs!)


Li January 27, 2020 at 9:28 pm

It cracks me up imagining someone brewing tea in someone’s cast off snot pot!


Katy January 29, 2020 at 10:25 am

You crack up because you know that someone somewhere has done exactly this thing!


Nancy from mass January 28, 2020 at 5:39 am

Although it’s only my son and I in the house, I currently have 22 coffee mugs and four very nice tea cups (that I won with an assortment of teas at a raffle) . Two years ago when my son and I went to Arizona, I bought a very cool mug with the Native American design on it. Since then, every time my son and I go somewhere he says “mom, please don’t buy any coffee mugs“. They all get used at some point though because every other year I host my family and there’s typically between 20 and 24 people. The coffee flows all day long and not a single disposable item is used. there were additional coffee mugs, but I gave them to Goodwill last year.


Mary in VA January 28, 2020 at 8:38 am

That “KATY” mug is hilarious, it’s so random.


Ava January 28, 2020 at 11:25 am

I resell a lot of Goodwill Christmas mugs in craft shows. The formula is: attach a mug with festive picture to a coordinating saucer. Fill the mug with a little scene including a figure that goes with the picture, that is, a snowman, gingerbread, Santa, etc. Add a sign, greenery, berries, whatever . People snap them up in their quest for a unique and cheap gift for someone who probably doesn’t need a thing, and the materials are almost all recycled.


Christine January 28, 2020 at 3:41 pm

1. I have too many mugs and need to thin out the herd.
2. My mother gave my daughter her wedding “china” which wasn’t china at all but a beautiful set of dark turquoise and brown pottery. My Mom was artsy and definitely marched to her own drum which perhaps explains why she chose pottery over china in the 1940s. I came across a cup of this set while cleaning my cabinets. I planted a spider plant baby in it and gave it to DD for her birthday.
3. A friend told me she found $350 while walking her dog! I feel for the person who lost it though, who must’ve taken quite a hit.
4. I hung my braided rug over the deck railing and used my great aunt’s old rug beater to get the dirt out. A broom would work just as well, I guess. And yes, it’s great for taking out frustrations.
5. I refuse to buy paper napkins. We use cloth napkins and if they’re in the laundry we use dish towels.


cathy January 28, 2020 at 9:23 pm

My daughter says I have a “Mug Problem.” We do have quite a few—many from the thrift store. I do thin them, though, if they threaten to exceed the allocated space. I prefer eating out of a mug. I’m eating soup right now, and earlier ate some slaw out of the same mug. I use mugs to corral pens/pencils, small wood utensils, loose change… I’ve got a hand painted mug in the same style as the “Bentley” mug. Thrift store $1.49. I like the way your Goodwill hangs the mugs. That would make it much easier to see designs!


Katy January 29, 2020 at 10:28 am

Of course there are overflow mugs on the surrounding shelves because there are SO MANY MUGS!


sea January 29, 2020 at 7:18 am

Why do mugs multiply? It’s crazy! I’ve toured many Goodwills across the country, and most have amazing selections of plates, mugs, etc (I’m looking at you, Illinois & Arizona!). The weirdest place is Central Virginia — those Goodwills have almost no housewares sections! I mean the shelves are practically bare. It’s so strange.

I love a thrift shop because it’s like a treasure hunt: you might get a Walmart tshirt for $3.99 or an expensive designer item for the same price. I was really disappointed when I was in the Phoenix area recently, though. The Goodwill stores there have gone to individual item pricing, instead of category pricing (as in , all women’s shirts are $3.99). That same Walmart tshirt is still probably $3.99, but a shirt from Loft might run you $24.99, no joke — I saw plenty of examples of that. It really takes the fun out of it, not to mention the bargain aspect. At those prices, it could really encourage someone to shop new on the clearance rack, rather than second-hand.


Mary in VA January 29, 2020 at 8:27 am

Sea, touring thrift stores across the country is my dream cross-country trip! Not only Goodwill and Salvation Army stores, but all the little thrifts stores in all the little towns. That would be heaven for me (and hell for my husband, so he wouldn’t go with me 🙂


Katy January 29, 2020 at 10:27 am

That does sound like heaven!


Michelle H January 29, 2020 at 8:57 am

One of those “half a cup off coffee” mugs graced the shelf over the percolator at my grandmother’s house for decades! Thanks for the “remembery” as my kid once called it.


Cathy January 29, 2020 at 10:21 am

One of my favorite Salvation Army finds was a mug with my name. It was from a local theme park, with the Jetsons (even Astro the dog!) on it. Super cheesy, cost $0.60, and it currently is used for my makeup brushes. It’s proudly displayed on my bathroom counter. Always makes me smile 🙂
I AM curious why the mug with your name on it is in quotes. Why the quotation marks?? That’s the English major in me quivering in a grammar-induced shudder.


Katy January 29, 2020 at 10:26 am

I asked myself the very same question!


Dicey January 30, 2020 at 11:15 pm

It might be to indicate it’s a nickname. As in Katherine “Katy” Wolk-Stanley.


Indigo January 29, 2020 at 10:27 am

I think all but the most devoted of minimalists or haters of all warm beverages have more mugs than they “need”. Most mugs are also terrible. Thin cheap ceramic that doesn’t hold heat with generic designs people might like for a little while but never love. These end up in the dark reaches of cabinets to collect dust for years. I’m firmly of the William Morris philosophy “Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.”

Our mugs are all stone and earthenware, most of them thrifted except one I made and one my partner was given years before we met. We love them all and they each set a very different mood as I gravitate to some for a morning pick me up and others for an evening soothing beverage.

Then there are the mug “planters” and “keepers of things”. Beautiful pieces, some that would have been drinking mugs if not for an uncomfortable or missing handle or a chip or crack. These house many an art supply in my little studio, small plants, bathroom items from tooth brushes to q-tips (I love that little tiny Japanese style teacup because it has a very quirky boar running across the front.)

I have a similar variety of wooden boxes and bowls to organize drawers, keep my laundry room tidy, catch alls at convenient places so that I can put away all the small objects my family would otherwise leave everywhere, to housing dirty boots on the front porch.

Also as a Teacher… please… Don’t buy us ANYTHING that says Teacher on it! Even though we love what we do we don’t want it plastered over everything!


Alison January 30, 2020 at 6:10 am

I haven’t found a lot to smile or laugh about online lately, so I REALLY appreciated the effort (and mugshots!) you put into this post. Thanks Katy.


Lindsey January 30, 2020 at 11:59 am

I start my day by looking at old Gary Larsen cartoons and I feel better!


Katy January 31, 2020 at 11:28 am

I hear you.


LB January 30, 2020 at 9:20 am

SO MANY MUGS. My wonderful aunt sent me my grandma’s glass Christmas mugs, which I adore (there were only two left of the original 8 piece set) but I am completely out of space!

1. Traveled for work like a crazy person this week. Found a wonderful coincidence when my friend’s birthday was being celebrated in the city I had to be in–so I got to spend some wonderful time at their home for his birthday, stay over, and get sent to my meeting the next day with delicious leftovers. Reimbursement for food is a little questionable with my organization so it was great to avoid having to worry about that.

2. Got home from the gym very late and in a terrible mood last night, but still dragged myself through the motions of making a big salad for dinner. Using up perishable ingredients before going out of town this weekend and avoided the delivery monster.

3. My Libby holds are coming fast and furious! Loving having so many books to tear through. That app is the gift that keeps on giving.

4. Rocking my same winter coat even though I’m yearning for a nice, new one without holes in the pockets (mending them has proved fruitless). However, being about halfway through winter makes me think twice and realize I can make it to April when a lighter coat can take over.

5. Same old–trusty water bottle, snacks in my purse, bringing lunch. Realized I ate almost completely vegan yesterday which was kind of cool to realize!


Katy January 31, 2020 at 11:27 am

I have a few Christmas mugs, which get stored in the basement with the rest of the Christmas supplies 11 months/years.


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