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Pro Tips for Shopping at Goodwill

We pass on our Goodwill shopping tips to help you get the most out of your shopping trip.

By: Carly Nicholas, Editor, CheapThriftyLiving.com
Updated July 15, 2019
Pro Tips for Shopping at Goodwill

The first time you step into a Goodwill can be a bit overwhelming. With countless racks of clothes, miscellaneous pieces of furniture, and vintage electronics, you may not know where to start.

Enter CheapThriftyLiving. We're here with our best tips for shopping at Goodwill to help guide you into making the smartest purchases at the secondhand retailer. Thrift stores like Goodwill are an excellent resource for budget-friendly clothes and furniture, you just need to know where to look.

 

How to Thrift Shop at Goodwill

If you're  a first time thrift shopper, or you've had little to no luck in your previous attempts, these tips for shopping at Goodwill will make your shopping experience much more worthwhile.  

  1. Shop out of season. When you buy clothes for winter in the summer (when there's less demand) the prices are going to be exponentially lower! Gear up for the next season a little early and save yourself boatloads of cash.
  2. Avoid going on weekends. Saturdays are an expert shopper's worst nightmare, because stores are packed wall to wall with customers, and employees don't have the time to maintain fully stocked racks and shelves. Going in the middle of the week almost guarantees full racks and fewer customers.
  3. Shop the color of the week. Each item at Goodwill has its price labelled on an array of different colored tags. Every week, they discount items based on the color of the tag and announce the discounted tag color over the PA sporadically throughout the day. Pay attention to those announcements and to the color of the tags attached to your items, because it could end up saving you money!

Thrift Store

  1. Test electronics before buying them. Once you learn how to thrift shop, you'll notice that there are true technology diamonds in the rough to be found at Goodwill. But before you commit yourself to purchasing one, plug it into an outlet to make sure it works properly. Most thrift stores have somewhat strict return policies, and you don't want to spend money on something that doesn't work, no matter how good the discount is.
  2. Go often. Unlike conventional retail shops, Goodwill doesn't keep a recurring inventory of similar items, and they also can't order specific item's you're looking for. They receive their merchandise solely from donations, so there is no guarantee what will come in and when. By going more often, you have a greater chance at striking gold.
  3. Keep an open mind. You would be surprised what a coat of paint or a quick reupholstering can do to transform an otherwise unimpressive piece of furniture. When you're shopping, think about what the piece can become. It's not only going to be less expensive than the ready-made items from regular furniture stores, but it will force you to get creative (which is fun!)

  1. Check for damage. Not just the obvious issues, either. Look for small holes, stains that might not be obvious at first glance, scratches in wood, etc.
  2. Don't rush into a purchase. It can be easy to fall into the trap of "Oh, it's only three dollars? Let's just buy it." Not only will that damage your budget, but you could end up buying things you don't need and aren't functional in your life (and that you'll probably end up donating three months later).
  3. Donate every time you go. Our final tip for shopping at Goodwill is to give a little back, because at the end of the day, it is a charity organization that relies on its donations to continue to provide you (and the public) with discounted clothing and home goods. Everyone has something around the house that they don't need, so give a little back each time you shop!

Thrift Shopping

What are your favorite things to shop for at Goodwill? 

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