Around Town

Goodwill Outlet: Tips for shopping the mothership of thrift stores

If you’ve ever passed by the Goodwill Outlet on Freedom Drive you might have been curious. The parking lot is always packed. Do those people know something you don’t? Answer: Yes.

If the deals at the Goodwill retail stores are steals, then the ones at the Goodwill Mothership are grand larceny. Here’s what you need to know.

The basics

– Items that don’t sell at the Goodwill retail stores go to the Goodwill Outlet.

– Clothes, handbags, shoes and toys are $1.39 a pound.

– Household items are 50 percent what they originally cost at the Goodwill retail store.

– The prices you see on the items are the original prices. Half will be taken off at the register.

– As with the Goodwill retail stores, proceeds go toward job training programs.


Grab a blue shopping bin and take a look around…

rolling bins

Consider gloves

The clothes in the big bins aren’t arranged by size, style or, well, anything. So you have to do a lot of digging. I’ve seen some Goodwill Outlet pros wear gloves for the digging expedition. It’s not that there’s necessarily anything unsavory on the clothes, but being up to your elbows in other people’s old garments can make you think. About gloves.

clothing 1 (1)

Don’t break a leg

But if you do, get a friend to go to the Goodwill Outlet for you. They often carry crutches. You can find them in the back of the big room with the household goods, sometimes for around $2 a pair. You can also often find walkers, and sometimes wheelchairs.



About the artwork…

As a rule, the prints and paintings are terrible. But the frames are often in great shape and might be perfect for a poster, photo or painting that you already have at home. So before you leave home, measure anything you need framed and bring your tape measure with you to the store. The largest pictures cost between $2.50 and $5.

Frames aside, you might have a spot on the wall that’s just crying out for a picture of colonial gentlemen doing card tricks.

colonial men

paintings (1)

Get ready for the game

In the back you’ll find sports equipment. No, you probably won’t find the latest and greatest, unless you’re an extremely lucky person. But there are tons of golf clubs that will set you back only a dollar or so each.

golf clubs 2 (1)

sports equipment

pull up exerciser

Find some beach reading material

There’s no cheaper place in town to buy books. Hardbacks are $1.39 and paperbacks are 99 cents. And there are a lot of them.


Equip your kitchen

The Goodwill Outlet is a great place find glasses, cups and plates (49 cents each) cutlery (29 cents each) and stemware (99 cents each.) You can also find pots and pans, as well as electrical appliances. You can plug them in at the store to make sure they turn on, but check them out carefully. You can’t return them.



View it as an adventure

Sometimes you’ll hit the jackpot and sometimes you won’t. If you don’t find anything you need, at least you’ll see something interesting. Like this Santa who has developed a bear problem.

santa with bears

Jody Mace is a freelance writer who also publishes the local website Charlotte on the Cheap. Follow Charlotte on the Cheap at@cltcheap and everything else she does at @jody_mace.