Secrets of a Goodwill Junkie

gold trunk

I scored at Goodwill…again!

If you know me, you know that I’m addicted to finding treasures amongst trash. There’s something about the challenge of making an object so seemingly undesirable enviable that energizes me. Yesterday I ran across this AWESOME metallic gold trunk (for Baby #2’s nursery) for $15. It’s absolutely perfect for the space, and I about died when I found it. Baby #2’s nursery reflects Ryan’s and my overall style, which is a little eclectic and vintage (mixed with a bunch of Pottery Barn stuff because of my former job), which works well for us because we’re constantly turning over our housewares (and by “we,” I mean “me”…of course!). I’m always on the hunt for the perfect things to replace the few IKEA and hand-me-down pieces still lingering in our home, and as I search for those replacements, I’m always finding other things that are must-haves. Thus, over the past decade, sifting through housewares has become my hobby of sorts, my personal passion, and, at times, even my official “job.”

I’ve been posting a few of my thrift store finds on Insta (@funnybeautifulblog) lately and have a gotten quite a few inquiries and responses. A lot of the messages have been asking which Goodwill I go to because “it always has good stuff.” My response? It’s not Goodwill, it’s you. And that’s true! The key to getting “the good stuff” at your local Goodwill (or thrift store of choice) isn’t about location, it’s about how you shop it. Anyone can score a good deal–and after years of refining my craft :) and answering a ton of inquires about my latest finds, I figured I’d share three of my personal keys successful Goodwill shopping…

1. Be patient! Just like a lot of things in life, my trips to Goodwill go through both times of plenty and dryspells. If I’m going through a dryspell, I usually take some time off from shopping. (Otherwise, I tend to get really frustrated and going loses its appeal.) Although I always have that nagging voice that wonders if I’m missing out on something amazing during my sabbaticals, I always remind myself that Goodwill finds are rarely a necessity. After a few weeks or a month, everything in the store has turned over, so it’s exciting again. I also have found that sometimes my “dryspells” are really the result of not finding a specific item I’m looking for, and in that case, it’s important to be patient and realistic. It could take a while…or forever…or never. I try to give myself a time limit (like four trips) before I cry uncle and buy whatever it is I’m looking for at a real store (new).

2. Go early in the morning, late in the week. People always clean out their junk on the weekends, meaning if you’ve ever tried to do a drop-off on a Sunday, you’ve likely sat in line. It takes a long time to sort and price all that stuff, so the workers need a few days to get the good stuff onto the floor–meaning that if you shop early in the week you miss out on a lot of the “new” stuff. Also, people don’t just drop-off on the weekends, they also shop on the weekends–meaning that if you shop Saturdays and Sundays, be prepared fight the crowds and pick from leftovers and rejected items. I believe that Thursdays and Fridays are ideal Goodwill days–the stores are stocked with the previous weekend’s drop-offs, but not yet picked over by weekend shoppers. Also, I prefer to go first thing in the morning; it’s less crowded, and you beat the other savvy shoppers to the good stuff.

3. Buy it, buy it now. Goodwill is one of those places where if you want it, you better get it NOW. I’ve kicked myself a million times thinking that no one else in their right mind would want whatever crazy item I’m considering, only to be wrong. It’s even been so bad that I’ve done a lap around the store to give myself time to think, and when I came back, the item was bought. Talk about frustrating! Sometimes those items have even haunted me–like the exact 80s Barbie Dream House I had growing up or the brand new American Girl doll in mint condition that I hesitated on. I’ve also been in the opposite situation, standing by an item I’m in the process of purchasing and having a wayward soul inquire if I was actually buying it. Oops! You should’ve come earlier! ;) This is terrible, but if your considering an item, you can always stick it in your cart (or remove the tag) and then put it back if you change your mind. All’s fair in love and Goodwill shopping. Although I personally have rarely regretted a thrift store purchase, if you do, just keep in mind that it was a cheap buy and that the money is going to a good cause…and then send the object back to Goodwill for another person to fall in love with!

It may take some time to get in the groove with your own local Goodwill, but after a decade spent refining the art of thrift store shopping, I know that it’s possible to score amazing, unique, cheap stuff (and rescue it from an eternity in a landfill). Plus, let’s be honest, the rush of finding that perfect item is undeniably rewarding, so let’s toast to one’s man trash, Talie Shove’s treasure! :)

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