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The joys and horrors of Goodwill shopping

December 5, 2009

I love Goodwill.

I realize to most fashion-conscious individuals, shopping at Goodwill seems like the bottom-of-the-barrel, last resort option for clothing. I remember when my Mom would drag me along with her when I was 13ish/awkward, and I hated it because Abercrombie & Fitch owned me, and I wouldn’t be caught dead in something from Goodwill. And now, after all, it’s what immediately comes to mind when you’re putting together pieces of an outrageously atrocious Halloween costume, or attending a tacky Christmas sweater party. But actual shopping? For everyday apparel? Is she crazy?

Maybe. But let me tell you, the thrill of digging through aisles of laugh-out-loud, “who would wear this?!!” and finding like, a perfect condition, Express sweater for $4, or a $3 Forever21 cardigan from last season, is so awesome. It is commitment. It’s not like walking into J. Crew and having the goods immediately thrown at you, salespeople guiding the way. It’s a treasure hunt, laden with terrible 90s hip-hop, screaming children and flourescent lights. Which means you’re going to have to sift through a lot of this:

I mean, I just … no words. They’re almost so bad they’re good.

But you don’t give up. You keep going. Through the long-sleeve velvet dresses and through the #1 Granddad jean jackets. Oh God! Is that an Alcoholics Anonymous T-shirt!? Keep going! You’re almost there!

Ah. A $3 black sweater with lace argyle patches that just may work. And it did:

(The boots are from my Black Friday adventures. I haven’t taken them off since. Jeans are Express. Forgive the cheesefest soap opera in the background.)

Another great thing about Goodwill is that you can partake in a little … goodwill. (Ah! I get it!) Before you go, go through your closet and make a pile with anything you haven’t touched in a year or more. (That’s my rule. Six months may be better, but I’m not strong enough for that yet.) Sometimes it stings, like that sweater you’ve been holding onto for years because it has that cute little bow or whatever, but it fits your shoulders funny so you never wear it. JUST LET IT GO. It feels so good when you see that huge pile of crap and know that some 13-year-old girl can tramp herself out with your old Wet Seal tank tops. This is what Christmas is all about.

So, you donate, get your tax receipt, try your luck in-store and see what happens. Even if you don’t find anything, it feels really good to go through your closet (and shelves, they take everything) and clear out some space. Plus, where else are you going to go for your tacky Christmas sweater purchase?

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. December 5, 2009 11:06 pm

    I went shopping at Goodwill and SA today too and got a new-to-me messenger saddlebag. I was a lot like you in middle school of being repulsed with shopping at thrift stores, but now I’m a fiend about it and I’ve gotten better at being able to spot the Banana Republic/Anne Taylor/Ralph Lauren stuff. It’s like a little game, really, to spot it before someone else snags it. Quite amazing what people will just discard. Good post! -JoAnn

  2. December 9, 2009 10:29 am

    Great post, I like that you also encourage others to donate! I might be in the minority in that I’ve ENJOYED shopping at thrift stores since I was quite young! My mother and I used to go, it was one of the few activities that involved just me and her and we would always find something fantastic- I was never embarrassed.

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