Goodwill Outlet Tips for The Best Thrift Haul

goodwill outlet

Thrifting is one of my favorite past times. Finding the best prices makes it all the more fun! Keep reading for my Goodwill Outlet Tips before your first trip!

First off some background knowledge; Goodwill Outlet = Bins. Here, Goodwill brings out big blue bins full of merchandise. It is not for the faint hearted be aware, I have seen mice, dirty underwear, and knives! But don’t let that deter you, just be prepared!

How to Shop the 'Bins'

1. What to Bring

goodwill outle

Gloves. Some people prefer them, some don’t. Obviously they help with sanitation but one drawback is that you are not able to feel for quality materials as easily!

Mask during COVID this is a must. But normally it can be a good idea if you have allergies as there is a lot of dust and other particles going around the warehouse.

Large Bag or preferably an Ikea bag! At the bins in Seattle, it is extremely hard to get a cart so it is a good idea to have a large bag to throw things in and this also prevents you from having to carry around several different ones

Hand Sanitizer or wipes, it gets dirty in there.

Crossbody Purse or Belt Bag. Honestly one of my biggest fears is losing something or having someone take my purse or coat thinking it is something from one of the bins. Bring minimal items and keep them close to you!

2. Find Out When they Bring Out Different Items

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Every goodwill outlet does this differently. But at least at the ones in Seattle, they have a schedule for when they bring out new items and what those items are. You can call ahead to get this information and they may even have it on a whiteboard in the front!

Find your local Goodwill HERE

3. Make Note of the Different Prices for the Item Type

goodwill outlet
Image Credit: Katy Wolk-Stanley

At the outlet, the only sorting they do of the items is by the item type. This includes:

  • Textiles
  • Home Goods
  • Accessories
  • Shoes

Each has their own price and then typically the price for pound gets cheaper once you reach a certain weight. I.e. once you hit 50lbs its $0.50 per pound cheaper.

4. Watch Out for Goodwill Tags

goodwill outlet

If I am at a bin and I see an item tagged with a price from the Goodwill, I immediately leave. These items were clearanced out and sent to the outlet.

You may be able to find good items but I personally would recommend you find a bin with items that have not already been picked through.

5. How Items End up at the Bins

goodwill outlet tips

Once again Bins = Goodwill Outlet. Items can either end up there because they were clearaned out (see above) or because they have so much inventory that they decided to skip processing and take it to the outlet. 

Skipping the processing is what you are looking for! These items have not been picked over and it is where you will find the best treasures!

6. Set Aside a Few Hours!

Photo by Buenosia Carol from Pexels

One of the biggest mistakes I see is people leaving when they do not get that amazing find immediately. Pre-COVID I would typically spend several hours looking around waiting for the bins to rotate.

You need to be patient to be successful!

7. Look at EVERY item

goodwill outlet tips

I know it can seem tedious, searching and looking at every item in the bin. This is important especially for clothing!

Even in bins other people have looked through, chances are you guys may have your eyes on different brands, styles, etc. Do not give up and be thorough!

8. Keep an Eye on Your Finds

I have literally had someone steal my cart from me. Take it, they thought it was their moms so it may have been a mistake but I learned my lesson! Keep your eye on your items and do not leave personal belongings in your cart! 

This is also dependent on the type of people who go to your outlet location! I have heard that some people will grab a blanket and cover up the items in their cart making it harder for people to try and grab that Patagonia coat you found…haha

9. Look Over Your Stuff Before Checking Out

I cannot tell you how many times I have gotten home and found holes in the clothing I found.

It unfortunately happens but something you can do to prevent this is to thoroughly check over your items. Look at seems, discoloration, and for tiny holes! 

10. Ask Others to Check Out with You

This one will depend on your comfort level with the people who regularly go to your Goodwill outlet location. Honestly, I see the same people there every time I go. Most people are resellers and can either be friendly or some of the most competitive people you have ever met. 

Look for the friendly ones and ask to check out with them so you can combine weights and get the discount I mentioned earlier!

11. Thrift in more Affluent Areas

Affluent areas= nicer items donated, keep this in mind when you are thrifting. In these areas, people might not care as much about getting money for their expensive items and instead donate them.

It makes sense, they probably just want to get rid of the item and are not strapped for cash to the point where they want to sell it themselves.

12. What to do When You Get Home

First, obviously you need to show people what you got (hehe)

But then wash the items and steam them! Here is the Steamer that I use 

Steam cleaning does better at disinfecting items than regular washing does, so make sure to do it to keep your home clean and give yourself peace of mind!

What’s the best item you have ever found at the Goodwill Outlet?

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