I still remember when Macklemore’s “Thrift Shop” took house parties and tailgates by storm, and the new wave of “frugal rap” helped make thrift store purchases cool.
Our generations’ attitude towards thrift shopping helped everyone; rich kids funneled their parents’ money into a non-profit, and less-rich kids like me (who shopped there out of necessity) no longer had to hide our frugal findings in shame.
Despite my rising income, I’ve been shopping at Goodwill since high school – and each year, I learn something new that makes me think, “Gah, I wish I’d known that last year!”
So for all my fellow fans of #FrugalRap, here are seven Goodwill secrets that will save you hundreds.
1. Goodwill has an online auction house
This is the “Goodwill hack” I’m most excited to share with you because it kinda blew my mind when I discovered it myself:
Goodwill has their own version of eBay where they sell the nicer stuff they receive.
The URL is www.shopgoodwill.com, and you can find everything there, from jewelry to video game consoles to designer clothing. The site is basic but highly functional – you can estimate shipping for each item before you bid, and they respond to questions and inquiries surprisingly quickly.
Goods on ShopGoodwill tend to sell for more than they would inside a Goodwill store, but still way less than they would’ve fetched on eBay. To illustrate, I’ve had my eye on this rare Lamborghini desktop model for a while. On eBay, one just like it sold for $93 plus tax:
On ShopGoodwill? $6.
Considering I was the only bidder, this further illustrates my point: I don’t think many people know ShopGoodwill even exists, so get in while the getting’s good!
2. Shop on Mondays for the best selection
Imagine you’re putting aside an entire day of the week to clean out your closet, pile up old stuff, and make a run to your nearest Goodwill donation center.
Which day of the week are you most likely to get all this done? Friday? Heck no!
Most people clean out their closets and drop everything at Goodwill on a Sunday. And since Goodwill employees can efficiently clean, test, and move items to the storefront within hours, the best day of the week to shop at Goodwill is Monday.
But what time on Monday? Goodwill themselves drops a teasing hint:
“a Monday morning shopping trip is almost guaranteed to be fruitful.”
3. Strikeout? Go back!
This one may seem obvious, but if you don’t find anything good at your local Goodwill, go back!
Inventory at Goodwill comes and goes constantly, so you may see almost entirely new stock every Monday.
Remember, several garage sales’ worth of stuff shows up every Sunday, so that magical purse, pair of Ray-Bans, or 9 iron you’re seeking may just need one more week to show up with a blue tag.
4. Yes, shopping at Goodwill in “nice” neighborhoods still works
This is one of, if not the most debated tip in the thrift-shopping community.
Some variation of it gets posted in the subreddit r/LifeProTips once a month, and each time it does, it gets a flood of upvotes and stirs up a frenzy of comments.
Some say it’s the best life hack ever, while others cry bulls***.
Some say they’ve bought half a runway there for pennies on the dollar, while others say Goodwill redistributes its donations, so no shop will contain better goods than another.
Here’s where I sit – I still think you should shop at Goodwills located in “nice” neighborhoods for a few reasons:
- While it’s true that donations in bins outside supermarkets are redistributed, donations made directly to a physical Goodwill location are more likely to stay there.
- If you don’t find what you’re looking for in the rich neighborhood Goodwill, you can still hit up a rich person’s thrift shop or garage sale nearby.
In short, you’re more likely to find steeply discounted treasures in rich neighborhoods in general, whether you’re at Goodwill or not!
If you’re wondering how this type of content helps you save money, it doesn’t. That’s why it’s not the Goodwill account that I recommend you follow.
Instead, you want to follow the social media account of your regional Goodwill office.
Here is where you’ll find sales, deals, and discounts:
Another reason I follow my regional Goodwill is simply to create a constant reminder in my News Feed that Goodwill even exists. A gentle, daily nudge that thrift stores exist helps prevent me from mindlessly shopping on Amazon.
For example, just the other day I thought, “I could use more bookshelf speakers” – but before I could drop $100 on Amazon, Goodwill popped up on my feed and I thought, “Oh, yeah – I should try getting these way cheaper first!”
6. Even Goodwill has half-off sales
Goodwill’s “problem” is that it often receives too many donations, so it has to keep inventory moving out the door.
And just like a big department store, Goodwill has big sales to clear shelf space.
Sales vary by region, but it seems that most Goodwills choose one day of the week to discount general items and another day of the week to discount clothes.
I won’t judge you for waiting for a sale, even at Goodwill – because even though the money is going to a good place, sometimes even Goodwill’s prices can be a little high. A lotta folks online have lamented the fact that Goodwill recognizes name brands now, and will charge $40 for a worn-out Coach bag or $25 for a newer video game.
But don’t beat yourself up for paying discount prices at Goodwill. Remember: you’re still doing Goodwill a big favor by taking it. Items that don’t sell at retail or auction move to by-the-pound 99 cent stores, and items that don’t sell there get broken down for recycling.
So even though only 5% of Goodwill donations end up in landfills, you’ll still be saving Goodwill from a lot of time and effort recycling it!
7. Know what can (and can’t) be repaired
When shopping for used goods, especially furniture, it can save big time and money to know what can be saved and what belongs in a dumpster.
- Used sneakers are a great example. You may find a snazzy pair of Nikes that originally cost someone $150 and, lo and behold, they’re in your exact size! But before you drop the $6, you’ll want to inspect the tread on the bottom. If they’re nearly worn flat like an old tire, they’re unsafe and not worth buying.
- Furniture is a different story. Oftentimes folks will donate $800+ pieces of furniture because it has a fading finish or suffered a few scuffs over the years. Now, as long as the table or chair is still structurally sound, i.e. it doesn’t shake or wobble and isn’t missing any pieces, you can easily repaint that sucker and give it 10 years of new life. Best of all, you can repaint it in your favorite color with nothing to lose.
- Electronics and small appliances make up some of the most killer discounts at Goodwill. But they don’t always test every function before they put them out for sale. For example, I spotted a $200 Keurig for $10.99 at my local Goodwill, so I plugged it into one of their many outlets to discover, eureka, it turned on. It was only once I got home that I discovered it wouldn’t brew! 🙁 Thankfully, I was able to repair it with basic tools and no additional parts. It just had some mineral buildup that needed clearing out, and now I use it every day.
While Goodwill is amazing, and certainly worth frugal-rapping about, it’s not the only place in town to get 90% off nice things. There are treasures to be found at garage sales, on Facebook Marketplace, and of course, other local thrift shops (especially in bougie neighborhoods).