Goodwill Shopping Tips

If you’ve been around me for any time at all, you know I’m an avid Goodwill shopper. Half of my wardrobe is from Goodwill, and that’s not to mention all the home decor I’ve scored there. This week I’m coming in hot with every single thing I know about shopping at Goodwill. Over the years I’ve found so many good deals, and I finally have my tactics down to a science. Keep reading to learn how you can snag high-quality items at Goodwill prices!

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Sale schedule:

Yes, even Goodwill has sales. Every week they choose a “color of the week,” and clothing items tagged in that color are marked 50% off. On Sundays, items marked that color are 99 cents. In my experience, those items get bought up very quickly. Sometimes it can feel like there’s nothing in the store that color. I think you’re better off to shop as you normally would and then tally your haul up at the end to see if you have any markdown tags. Let that help you make your final decisions. If you select items solely because they’re marked down, you’re more likely to buy something you won’t actually wear.

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When to shop:

Given the sale schedule, Sundays are a great time to shop because you can get items for 99 cents. Spring and summer are the best seasons because everyone is spring cleaning and having yard sales. Every Saturday throughout that season, you will see vehicles lined up at the donation door dropping off whatever didn’t sell at their yard sales. You can often find great deals on furniture as a result.

What to shop for:

This is really the key to making Goodwill work for you, and it’s also the most subjective tip I have. What you look for depends entirely on what you will get the most use out of. For example, I used to look for work clothes at Goodwill and I consistently found items from The Limited, Talbots, LOFT, Ann Taylor, Gap, and Old Navy. In the future I will likely look for kid’s clothes since they are so cheap and kids constantly outgrow their clothes. Here are the categories I look for most consistently:

-Brand names: I honestly couldn’t care less about what brand I’m wearing, but I do care about quality. The whole point of Goodwill shopping is to score quality items for cheap. I wouldn’t waste time on items from Walmart or Forever 21, because those items are already so cheap it defeats the purpose. In addition to the brands I listed above, I’ve found Ralph Lauren, Calvin Klein, Tommy Hilfigher, and department store brands like Chaps when shopping for men’s clothing at Goodwill. I also frequently find items from local boutiques. Don’t buy something just because it’s a certain brand, but always be mindful of the quality.

-Vintage items: My Goodwill white whale is a vintage pair of Levi’s that I can wear high-waisted and cut off into shorts. I honestly started daydreaming just typing that. If you’re like me and have a more eclectic style, you can find some great vintage pieces at Goodwill. Now that the 90’s are back, I’ve found some super comfy 90’s midi/maxi dresses. I’ve even found vintage Lily Pulitzer dresses and then kicked myself later for not buying them. You can also find pretty vintage dishware. Look for brands like Pyrex as well as patterns and color schemes that go with your kitchen.

-Books: Goodwill books can serve so many different purposes. You can look for vintage books in a color scheme you want to decorate with, a la Joanna Gaines. You can look for hardback classics to build your home library. I’ve also gotten several paperbacks to take to my neighborhood pool. That way if when I get splashed, I’m not ruining a library book or a book I paid full price for. Goodwill is great for children’s books, too. I’ve already found some kids’ classics for our little one for 99 cents each.

-Leather goods: Leather can always be doctored up, and a little wear just gives it character. Digging through belts, shoes, and purses can yield some genuine leather treasures.

-Home decor: I have the most success finding vases and baskets at my local Goodwill, but some stores have a wide decor selection.

The most important thing to remember about shopping at Goodwill is that it’s going to require some digging. You can’t walk in looking for something specific and expect to find it. Approach it like a treasure hunt, and you just might find some treasure!

It’s also imperative not to fall into the trap of buying things just because they’re cheap. You’ll end up spending more than you save that way. Trust me, I speak from experience! Be super realistic about whether you will actually wear or use what you’re buying.

If you’ve read this far, you’ve now completed my course, Goodwill Shopping 101. Consider yourself a certified bargain hunter. If you score something great at Goodwill, post it and tag me on Instagram or Facebook!

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