Goodwill 101

I've gotten quite a few questions over the past few months relating to one thing - Goodwill shopping.
It's something that I wanted to do as soon as I came here because I've heard SO much about it from US based blogs and vlogs. Back in the UK, there is a similar concept called Charity Shopping but the stores are smaller and more full of bric-a-brac than clothes.

I thought I'd do a series of posts that basically help you all (well, my US based friends) shop at Goodwill!

There are a few things you need to know straight off the bat.

  1. Goodwills can be HUGE. Some of them have clothes organised by size, some don't. Some organise by color, some don't. Some don't even organise past men's/women's. But that is exactly what makes it exciting. It's like a treasure hunt.
  2. There are tonnes of Goodwills in NYC. Don't just look at the ones in midtown. The best ones are the ones that are in Brooklyn or even uptown (cause that's where you can score some designer shi*).
  3. You need patience. Go through all the racks. It takes a few visits to really know what is worth it, what's overpriced and what you need to buy RIGHT NOW or you'll spend the rest of your life regretting it.
Items are typically priced between $5-25 (this is mostly clothing) but when you figure out the half-off color (will talk more about this later), you can score for as little as $1.50-2. I've gotten skirts for $2. With the original label on.

So here's a step by step to get you started.
  1. Before you go, set a budget. It's VERY easy to buy a bunch of crap you won't even wear. There is a 7 day return policy, but who has time for that. I can say with pride that I've probably made only 2-3 bad buys out of the 38749832 things I've bought in the past six months.
  2. Check which color is half off this week. Each item is color-tagged (I think it's blue, purple, green, pink, orange, yellow and white) with a specific price - so if all the blue tags are 1/2 off that week, you're going to be paying half of the price 
  3. Make sure you have a good 2-3 hours set aside for this. Hit up a couple of Goodwills, not just one. Get lost in the racks.
  4. Try on stuff. The lines to the changing rooms can get a bit crazy - but with the assortment of clothing, you never know what will look good on you - sometimes the most unexpected things do!
  5. This is just my personal rule of thumb - either get things that look new or if they don't, at least they should have some sort of aesthetic value. Like a worn denim jacket where the previous owner has stitched on buttons and studs. NOT a ratty sweater with holes in it which looks like it's falling apart at the seams. 
  6. Check out the homeware section. You can get new Ikea plates and mugs for less than a dollar. And some really cute crockery.
Some of my favorite Goodwill stores are at:
  • 217 W 79th St - UWS - Great for designer/contemporary stuff. The shit that rich people throw away...
  • 157 West 72nd Street - Same. I found some amazing shoes for $4
  • 258 Livingston St - This one is huge. Stock changes almost every three days. My favorite buy is my camel Armani coat. 
I hope this helps! I will do another post with my favorite Goodwill buys next - seriously, this has become something of an addiction.

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