Friday, March 22, 2013

The Gift of Thrift: A Quarter's Worth

Having come home to Independence, Missouri, on a quick visit for my dad's birthday, my time was limited, but not so much so as not to experience a first: a visit to the Goodwill Outlet in Kansas City. I had no idea what to expect, other than the advise my sister gave me: go into it with an open mind.

Mind open and change burning a whole in my pocket, I was ready for an adventure. We started sifting through rows of blue bins,considering the array of odds and ends that were priced by the pound: aBilly Idol tape; a silly magnet; a Lego toy attachment.

We were just getting warmed up when an announcement came over the loud speaker alerting the crowd that rows 9 to 11 of the blue bins were about to be swapped out, and to stand out of the way as workers removed the old and hauled in the new. Container upon container glided into the room, and shoppers stood back just as they had been requested. Finally, all the merchandise was in its place, and a worker announced that the treasure hunt could proceed.

The frenzy resumed over the new bins as people grappled over pairs of shoes and cartons of china. I picked through a box of dishes that looked like it had been dropped off directly from a garage sale, as many of the objects still had masking tape price tags attached. I salvaged a mid-century candle holder and a vintage, glass juicer.

Our final stop was in the shop's corner, where just a few minutes earlier people were yanking out pieces of brass lighting from a fresh bin. We dug through a mountain of Christmas decorations and recovered a couple of rubber stamps. Then I saw what looked like a rusty can and turned it over, only to discover a sun-faded Ohio Art pail in which I promptly placed our collected objects and headed off to the scales where our damage would be revealed. Our grand total? $2.87

Always Frugal, Always Fabulous,

The Elegant Thrifter


  1. I stumbled across one of these outlets in downtown Los Angeles. The feeding frenzy at the bins was a bit daunting for me. I'm not one to fight over my treasures, preferring to scrounge where others don't. I do remember leaving that day with a 1940's lamp for $2.99 though. Haha. Guess our weights were similar.

  2. The pail is perfect! I'm never in Goodwill at the right time, though!

  3. Nothing quite as exciting as when they roll out fresh bins!

  4. There is a Goodwill store like that in Austin, Texas called the Blue Hanger. Going there is like an addiction!

  5. very interesting article Beautifull photos and great blog!

  6. In my town, it's called GoodCents and I'm a regular. I leave my office job during my lunch hour, don latex gloves and dig through bins looking for treasures. I love, love,love finding something "new", that I've never seen before. Love your little pail, your blog and your book!

  7. Once upon a time, my favorite haunt was the Goodwill in Gorham, Maine. Never knew what I would find and the hunt was so much fun. Well, the powers that be decided that a, "by the pound" store would open up in the next town. When I have gone, there is nothing but trash, so many items I would just toss in the garbage and I am a creative thrifter. My favorite store? Now, the items are over priced, even if they are cracked, chipped or broken and the pickings are slim. I went yesterday and left without a thing. I haven't renewed my 10% discount card. I feel as though I have lost a good friend. Goodwill was started as a place where people donated and others could find useful items at reasonable prices. Yes, there were treasures, but they went to people who appreciated them and were THRILLED to find them and own them. I found pieces that I NEVER would have been able to own in my economic situation. Now, the smart, savvy thrifters have been pushed out by the people who just want to make a big old buck. Forget the days when a young, cash strapped person could find items for a first apartment on the cheap. Oh, the good old days. Is it me? Am I a sour puss or is there a change from the way things were? Oh well, yard sale season is beginning again.



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