I discovered my love for thrift shopping about three years ago. Prior to that just hearing the word thrifting made me do a major eye roll. The thought of digging through endless racks of clothing at a Goodwill store made me anxious and I had no desire to partake in anything like that. My change of heart came when I started to follow thrifting bloggers on Instagram. After seeing some of the fashionable finds they were scoring, I was willing to give thrifting a chance.
Fast forward three years and thrifting went from something I hated, to one of my favorite pastimes. I guess you can say I’m a thrifting late bloomer, but I’m so happy I finally flourished. In fact, I consider myself to be a savvy thrifter and have learned many tips and tricks to finding treasures and designer items at thrift stores. I’ve become such a thrifting enthusiast that I have my go-to shops where I live and make it a point to stop at thrift stores when I travel. Goodwill is one of the stores that’s always on my list and today I’m going to share my best tips for thrifting at a Goodwill store.
7 Tips to Scoring Thrifted Treasure at a Goodwill Store
First things first, get your mind right
Let’s get one thing straight. Finding a thrifted treasure is a hunt, not a race. It’s actually a lot like dating. You will come across a lot of duds before you find an item that you have been looking for. Much like love, you will typically find treasures when you least expect it, so it’s important that you are patient in your search. With that said, there are a few tricks that will help you speed up the process to finding treasures at Goodwill.
- Shop with time- Remember, it’s not a race. Set aside a few hours to really take your time.
- Get your mind right- Personally, I like to pop on my headphones while I shop. It keeps me focused while enjoying my time sifting through the racks.
Every Goodwill Store has a personality, get to know them!
From upbeat stores with trendy finds to stores with an awesome vintage selection, every Goodwill store will have its own unique personality. The key is finding the one that fits your needs and the things you are looking for. The easiest way to find a Goodwill store that aligns with your aesthetics is to check out all of your local stores. Another thing that you should know is that each Goodwill is a reflection of the neighborhood that it’s located in. For example, when I lived in Florida and wanted to find a designer handbag, I headed to the Goodwill store on Palm Beach. This is an upscale area and the Goodwill location there is a true reflection of the neighborhood.
Fun fact: Did you know that there are 24 Goodwill stores in the Greater Seattle area? That’s a dream come true for thrifters like me!
Now that I live in Seattle, I’m in for a real treat. Goodwill has its headquarters and flagship store here, so I’ve had a chance to get to know Goodwill on a personal level. I recently had a chance to speak with Katherine Boury, Communications Manager for Goodwill, about the personalities of the Seattle area goodwill locations. She shared tons of details about a few of the locations and I’ve highlighted them below.
Goodwill Flagship Store (Largest Goodwill in the country)
Address: 1400 S Lane St, Seattle, WA 98144
Specialties: Halloween (the selection is INSANE!), the highly anticipated Glitter Sale, office furniture, and a haven for DIYers.
Katherine’s insider tip: Shop when there is a Seahawks game, it’s much slower.
Goodwill Capital Hill
Address: 115 Belmont Ave E, Seattle, WA 98102
Specialties: Great vintage selection
Katherine’s insider tip: There’s a FREE Parking lot at this location!
Address: 4552 University Way NE, Seattle, WA 98105
Specialties: Perfect place to find fast fashion brands such as Forever21 and H&M because of its local demographic of college students.
Goodwill South Lake Union
Address: 411 Westlake Ave N, Seattle, WA 98109
Specialties: A curated collection of fashionable finds.
Katherine’s insider tip: Ok this isn’t exactly a tip, but more of a fun fact. Did you know that this charming shop used to be an antique store?
Address: 1765 6th Ave S, Seattle, WA 98134 (This is the location where Mackelmore filmed the Thrift Shop music video.)
Specialties: This location isn’t your average thrifting experience. The items are located in bins and are sold by the pound. It’s a great place to find deals, but it’s definitely a different type of buying experience.
Katherine’s insider tip: Bring gloves to sift through bins. Afternoons are slower paced.
Goodwill sales: It’s all about the tags!
When it comes to scoring great deals at Goodwill, it comes down to knowing the tags. Every item is marked with a different color tag and each week a certain color goes on sale. Learn about what color tag will be on sale at Goodwill before you shop. While we all love a good sale, it’s important to not pass up a dream item because it’s not on sale. Leaving it behind is truly a gamble and it’s very likely that it won’t be there when you return.
How to find plus sizes at a Goodwill store
As a plus size fashionista, I know that finding extended sizes can be a little tricky. The good news is that Goodwill is an AWESOME place to find plus sizes. Some of the bigger stores even have a dedicated plus size section (In the Seattle area, the Goodwill Flagship store is your best bet!). However, when it comes to thrifting, don’t put too much emphasis on sizes. Many clothing items that end up at Goodwill have been altered or were cut differently from the manufacturer, so if you think it may fit, try it on!
This is the question of the hour. We all dream of scoring a Louie bag or Louboutin pumps and the odds can be in your favor. Like I mentioned before, the neighborhood of the Goodwill store that you are shopping at is going to be a determining factor of the type of merchandise that you can expect to see. A few other things also come into play, so keep them in mind:
- Get to know the employees- The people who work at Goodwill are going to know their inventory best. Create a relationship with them and ask questions about the best times to come in to check for new merchandise. If there is something specific you are looking for, let them know. If you are lucky, they may hold it for you or give you a call if they spot something.
- Goodwill Annual Glitter Sale- This is a special treat for Seattleite, but it’s worth a trip to Seattle if you are serious about your designer thrifting game. The Glitter Sale takes place the first weekend of November and it’s notorious for having a great selection of designer items. I actually attended the preview last year and spotted a pair of Stella McCartney star platform Brogues for under $350! This is a HIGHLY anticipated event, so plan to arrive early and along with an umbrella (It’s Seattle people) make sure to pack some patience too. The only thing better than finding an awesome designer item at the Glitter Sale is supporting the causes behind the event. All proceeds from the sale support Goodwill’s free job training and education programs for low-income and underserved people in the community.
Don’t live near a Goodwill store? Shop Goodwill online!
We are a connected world. Just like you can shop from your favorite retailers online, you can also shop for thrifted treasures from Goodwill in your PJs. They have several online shops which you can easily shop from via the Goodwill Online website. My favorite Goodwill online shop is their Etsy page. It’s filled with vintage items, including clothing and accessories.
If you are shopping for something that glistens, consider checking out the Annual Sparkle Sale during the holiday season. It’s an online sale that focuses on jewelry and watches, perfect for adorning your holiday party looks or gifting.
Goodwill donations bring you good thrifting juju (trust!)
It’s good karma people, simple as that. Goodwill also depends on your donations to help sustain their job training and education programs, which you can learn more about here.