Getting "Goodies!" from Goodwill????


A good pair of shoes, like a man, are hard to find. Usually, 90 percent of the shoes at goodwill are bad bridesmaids souvenirs. Think about it, most people wear their shoes until they wear out. If theyre giving them away in wearable condition, it’s usually because they put the ‘ugh’ into ugly. .But sometimes you hit the jackpot, so I always make a beeline to the shoes first. If you consider the fact that most shoes are 100-200 bucks new, 4 bucks is a steal. But buyer beware: As with a lot of other Goodwill stuff, what looked cool in the store at a bargain price may look hopelessly out of date in the light of day – it just happened to look cool beside all those mint and candy floss coloured satin monstrosities. Don’t fall victim to this common illusion. However, you never know when some aspiring Imelda will clean out their closet. I saw a couple wicked pairs of super cool Destroy shoes a while back – Sadly, they were sized small enough to fit a circus freak, but someone (and Im pretty sure it was the 11 year old aspiring spice girl i saw eyeing them) left with a bargain. Mind you, some people don’t like to buy second hand shoes, but I’m all for it. They’re always broken in for you, and if you don’t like em, no big loss.

The ‘Specially Priced’ Rack

The Area 51 of thrift store racks – a mystery to everyone but the people that work there. This is where the store employees put all the clothes that they think deserve a higher price tag due to some ‘desirable’ quality. But you soon find out their idea of desirable usually involves the following: Things that sparkle (aka someone went postal with a Be-Dazzler)things with rat fur sewn on them, things with little leather bits sewn on them, and anything from the Gap. I don’t understand the logic. I don’t try. In fact, I tend to avoid these racks altogether. You can hear the conversation now: “Oh, Mavis looky this one! Its all shiny-like! That’ll fetch at least eight bucks!” Meanwhile, Dior frocks are gathering dust elsewhere, completely overlooked. A big, stinky red herring. Move on.

Children’s Rack

A lot of womens clothes end up on the childrens rack. Especially lycra tops and baby doll dresses. And if you are one of the svelte few for which belly-exposing fashions are a reality, you’ll be in luck. Trust me. You can also pick up cool kids t shirts (which will fit you snug and show off your ta-tas) with groovy things like ‘Sailor Moon’ in japanese, or ‘I shot JR’, ,or whetever pop-culture icon tickles your oh-so-ironic fancy. However, if you also find pants that fit on this rack, I hate you.

Men’s Rack

A lot of womens stuff ends up on the mens rack too. Look for pants especially, or coats. Also, men hang out in the men’s section. Some of them even bathe.


I have a secret goodwill location where I find all my dresses. I dont know why but some stores seem to be better at certain things, and sorry honey, I’m not about to reveal that secret here. Find out for yourself. As a general rule, Dresses can be time consuming. Again, it’s the bridesmaid syndrome – rack after rack of bad taffeta and nylon, poofy, pink, and nausea inducing. but stuffed inbetween these freaks of fashion lie a few treats. On vintage items, check for stains, especially in the pits (euugh) and red wine trauma. Also check zippers and seams. Old fabric and thread can become weak, so give it a good tug (when no-ones looking) to make sure it will hold up even under the most booty shaking James Brown dancefloor set.

“It Just Needs a Little Hemming”

…Or a new zipper, or a new button, or a slight alteration, or if you just took off that bow. Forget it. You’ll never do it. Trust me.

Check the Label

Be a label junkie. It’s worth it. Don’t buy anything from Smart Set or Le Chateau. Youre asking for trouble. Designer clothes are usually expensive for a reason – they’re made well, and can stand the test of time. Besides, if you really want something from Smart Set, go to Smart Set. They’re probably selling it cheaper there, and no one’s worn it yet.

Be Patient

I can’t tell you how many times friends, jealous of my ‘just pennies a day’ wardrobe, ask me to take them to the store with me, only to get all sad and mopey when they can’t find anything they like. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither was my closet. Sometimes you strike out, and you have to accept that. Come back in a week or two. New stuff is put out every day, and there’s high turnover. Well, except for the bridesmaid dresses, which languish in eternal limbo.

Try It ON

At this price, its very tempting to avoid the nasty medieval changerooms altogether and just cross your fingers. But a wasted 5 or ten bucks could be spent on something more exciting, like bingo, or a nice hunk of havarti. So try it on. I’ve learned this the hard way, as my storage space full of Rubbermaid Storage Totes can attest to. And there’s no sillier feeling than donating clothes back to the store you bought them from a week later, so they can sell it again to some other lazy shopper.

Other Stuff

I can’t resist the lure of 25c Tupperware. And just today, I got all jealous-like when I recognised a fellow art-school student from way back hauling out a boxful of Canadian Art magazines for next to nothing. I had a subscription once, and those things ain’t cheap. Lots of great kitchen stuff for starving students, too. Eventually you will find a mug with your name on it. And the elephant’s graveyard – millions upon millions of squeezee drink bottles (you don’t want one. no one does. thats why they’re there). Also fun 70’s board games, which are becoming very collectible. Ignore the waffle makers and curler sets. I don’t think I needed to tell you that. Repeat the smart shopper’s mantra: “I really don’t need a 3 dollar wafflemaker”.


I don’t know why ANYONE would buy jeans new. At the Goodwill, theyre already nicely worn in, and theyre so cheap. And you’ll always find your size. This is the one case you’re allowed to alter, cause altering jeans just requires a pair of kitchen scissors, a bit of nerve, and two legs.

A Few Last Minute Thoughts :

If you’re not sure about something, just imagine it at your favorite retail store with the same price on it. If you wouldn’t buy it there, don’t buy it here. Also, think about what else is in your closet, and if the clash would cause a major rift in your closet space-time continuum, leave it be. Don’t buy what I call a consolation prize – an item that you don’t really want, but you couldn’t find anything else so you think buying it will have made your trip worthwhile. Other than that, happy shopping. And leave something for me.

Originally Posted by: