Goodwill came into my life for the first time in 1997, when my oldest daughter Hallee was born. I wanted a baby swing and got my doors blown off by the price at Toys R Us. A neighborhood mom mentioned Goodwill and all of the great deals she got there and I immediately recoiled. Eeewww…used stuff? As in used by other people? Why? I wasn’t poor, just cheap. Wasn’t Goodwill for poor people?
I had never been in a second hand shop in my life and figured it just wasn’t for me. Then one day a few weeks later, (still swingless) I happened to stop at a strip mall near our home in Virginia and saw Goodwill. It didn’t look scheevy. It was big. There were a ton of people in there. Hallee was sound asleep in her car seat..I could sneak us in for just a minute and take a look around, just to say I had tried it, right?
I walked up and down the aisles, checking out the price tags, my eyes getting bigger and bigger. The baby section had Gymboree up the wazoo for .50 a piece. Entire crib bedding sets for $5. A baby swing for $7. It looked brand new. It went home with me and my kid practically lived in it for the next year.
Over the last 15 years, Goodwill, Salvation Army and many other thrift stores have made it possible for me to give my family what they needed and wanted on a shoestring budget. I found my own kind of religion wandering the aisles. I was getting big name items for pennies on the dollar…Nirvana! But around the time Mad started school, I noticed that certain things were becoming way more expensive than other items, especially at Goodwill.
Example..Mad was around 5 and losing a pair of mittens every week at school. I went to Goodwill here in Bangor to grab a few extra pairs, which back then were usually around .99 a pair. I picked up a battered, stained pair of dark pink LL Bean mittens that were truly too beat up to be re-selling and looked at the tag, $5. What? It must have been a mistake. I grabbed a couple of .99 pairs and made my way up front with the Bean mitts as well. I asked the cashier if it was a mistake and she said no..they were LL Bean…really popular brand. Okaaaaaay…yes, that’s true, but these look like someone blacked their woodstove with them and they were more pills than fabric..really? $5 for gross mittens just because of the tag that’s on them? Hmm.
That trend has remained steady at Goodwill, items I wouldn’t buy at a yard sale were twice as much as anything else on the rack because of their brand name, regardless of their beat condition.
Then one day early this winter, Mark came home and said he had stopped in a Goodwill and all of their prices had been raised. I went in a few days later and “raised” was right! Some things seemed like they had almost doubled. The name brand items? $10, $20 and higher. Listen, if I’m going to put $30 towards an LL Bean coat, it’s going to have a working zipper and no permanent stains.
I happened to be in the Brewer store this morning, looking for a pull on pair of boots for Mad. They had these.
Seriously, look at these. They were so water and salt damaged that they were as stiff as a board. The toes are about to flap open, the stitching is literally falling out and they smelled, you guys. And do you know what they wanted for them? Ten bucks. Yup. $10 for a pair of kid sized boots that I wouldn’t let a dog chew on and do you know why they were $10? Because they were Ugg brand. Maybe a few years ago they were wearable, but today? Today they needed to get thrown away, not re-sold. And yet because it’s a big name item, they have a $10 price tag on them, even though they’re basically unwearable.
With the new price hikes, there are items I can actually buy cheaper retail at stores like Walmart and Target, especially clearance items. I brought home new shirts, pants, hats and mittens from Target this week all for less then Goodwill wants for some of their used items now.
After leaving Goodwill today I went up the road to Marden’s and found Maddy these…
$2. Brand new. I bought two pairs of brand name boots for two bucks. One size for this year and the next size up for next year. Mad lives in this style of boot during the fall and winter.
Now I’m not writing this to dump all over Goodwill…plenty of that’s been done in the past. I’ve bought so much there over the years and been grateful for the good prices. And while I was there today I found a really great comforter and matching pillow sham for $6 total..there are lots of good deals to find still. However, that being said, I can’t get on board with jacking a price sky high on a used (many times over-used) item just because it’s got a recognizable logo on it.