I love second-hand shops and thrift stores. To me, they are places to wander through in search of treasures and oddities no one else can find (or perhaps want).
I have been a Goodwill shopper for a long, long time. I have come away with countless skirts, tops and shoes. Often with the original store tags still attached. Need a Halloween costume? Goodwill was always there with bits and parts for little money. With a little creativity, you could walk out with a fantastic costume for about $10.
But it seems those days are gone.
This year, I looked at costume bits only to find they were priced at new retail prices. Sure, I want to pay retail for a costume that I need to wash before I touch it. Yeah, think about what goes on at a Halloween party and tell me you are gonna wear that thing without washing it first. Not going to happen in my lifetime.
The last couple of times I shopped a Goodwill store, I came away with empty hands. Why? Goodwill now seems to think it is a retail store selling new items. The prices are that of a brand new item. I looked a sweatshirt style hoodie jacket. Goodwill, a THRIFT store selling USED items, had it marked at $20. I can buy that bad boy brand new for less than that if I shop smart. So why on earth would I spend my $20 on a used one?
Next was a pair of boots. I am a boot addict (there must be a 12 step program for this somewhere), so I always peruse the boots and shoes. This was pair of black boots with a low heel and two buttons up near the top. They were not leather. A look at the sole told me they had been worn quite a bit, but were not run down or scuffed up. The price tag, the Goodwill price tag, made me set them right back on the shelf and leave the store. $40. Forty dollars for a pair of USED boots.
Now I understand the Goodwill thing. They help people by giving them a job and helping them learn a new skill. Or they used to. I used to go to Goodwill and see that a lot of the staff members were people with some sort of handicap. I always thought it really neat. But now, I see no one with a handicap (unless you count surliness) working at the stores. I also see them advertising for help Craigslist. One Goodwill clerk told me I should be happy to be able to buy a pair of boots for only $45. Yeah. I can hit a sale at Fred Meyer and get a new pair of boots for that same $45. The whole point of thrift shopping is to pay less than retail. Not the same. Not more. Less.
And what really makes this whole price increase thing taste even worse, is the fact that Goodwill gets their items for free. How many of you have pulled with your car loaded to the gills with all the things you no longer want or use? Yeah. A lot of us have. We pull up, the clerk unloads the car, you get a donation slip for taxes (should you want one), they sort it, then sell it. With the exception of a clerk unloading my car, this is the same thing that happens in a retail shop. The truck comes in, it get unloaded, the stock is sorted, priced and put on the racks. Except the retail shop pays for that merchandise. Goodwill does not. So why are the Goodwill prices now rivaling retail?
Now I will take my unwanted items to another thrift shop. One that helps out those in need. One that charges appropriate prices for used treasures. And one who isn’t so picky about what they will accept this week.
So after decades of shopping fun and fantastic finds, I bid a fond farewell to Goodwill.