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Thrift Store Strategies: Saving Big at Goodwill

Kinsey.Lindgren

Shopping at your local Goodwill benefits your community and your wallet.

On the day that I made the unconscious decision to become an extreme couponer, I headed over to Wal-Mart to pick up a new printer.  Surely, that had to be the place to get the best deal on one of the must-haves for some serious couponing.  On the way is our local Goodwill store.  I had passed by it at least a hundred times before but never thought to stop.   This particular day, however, my entire outlook on how to shop was in a state of transformation, and I thought, what better way to start this whole money saving thing than to find a printer at a better price than I’d find at the same “every day, low price store”  I had been to so many times before.  With a quick right into the parking lot, I was about to find out.

The automatic sliding doors opened before me as if they were the gates to Ali Baba’s treasure cave.    I knew at first glance that even if I was unlucky with the printer I was sure to leave with some other great find.  Goodwill’s layout reminds me of T.J. Maxx (a treasure cave in it’s own right).  Each department is clearly labeled (with a different colored sticker) and separated:  toys, kitchenware, furniture, clothes, books, games, etc.   While it was hard to maintain my focus, I did spot the rather small electronics section in the back of the store.  As I made my way to my destination, in a very indirect manner, I began filling my cart with all kinds of great little treasures.  I couldn’t pass up  the $0.49 Melissa and Doug floor puzzle (retail $12.99), nor the complete set of magnetic numbers and letters for just $0.29, nor the $2.99 Sit and Spin, nor the many other toys, books and board games that Goodwill had to offer, all for pennies on the dollar.  I even found an adorable coupon organizer for the bargain price of $0.50.  Could I be this lucky in the printer department too?

Sure enough, they had about 10 printers to choose from ranging in price from $1.99 to $12.99.  I spotted a promising hp Photosmart All-In-One Printer, Scanner, Copier for $9.99.  The downfalls:  no installation CD, the wrong manual, and the wrong connection cord.  Knowing that  the CD and manual wouldn’t be a big deal because I could download everything I needed right off of hp’s website, I turned to the issue of no connection cord.  That could prove to be a problem.  Luckily, sitting right next to the printer was another hp printer with a compatible cord.  It was priced at $3.99!  For that price, I had no problem buying the entire thing, even if I only needed the cord.

I made my way to the very friendly and informative cashier and shared with her my apprehension about buying the printers without knowing whether or not they were in working condition.  She reassured me that if I had any problems with them whatsoever, I had 3 days to return the printers for a full refund.   Then she told me that I would be saving an additional 5% on the items I was buying with a yellow sticker and that each week they rotate which color is discounted.  She also told me about their Club Goodwill rewards card that has tons of benefits.  Just for signing up for it, I saved an additional 5% on the spot.

Here’s what you can expect with a Club Goodwill card…

Club Goodwill 

  • NEW! In-store scratch-offs every 15th of the month worth 15%, 20% or 25% off
  • 5% off any purchase of $20 or more every day
  • 25% off birthday coupon
  • Seniors (60 & over) 15% off Wednesday
  • Students 10% off Saturday
  • Discount coupons by mail
  • Advance notification of sales and promotions (such as Holiday, Halloween and Grand Opening Events)

The best part about shopping at your local Goodwill store is that it is linked to a great cause.  84% of Goodwill’s revenues go directly into employment and training programs for people with barriers to employment.  And don’t forget to donate!  The sales from your donations help fund job training programs for people who have disabilities, lack education or job experience, or face employment challenges.  Whether you are shopping or donating at your local Goodwill, your action will help this great organization bring economic stability to members of your community.

The old adage really is true,  ”One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.”  With the additional 5% savings I received for signing up for a Club Goodwill card, I got my printer for the rock bottom price of just $13.29!  I’m happy to report that 6 months later, my printer still runs like new.

There are more than 2,500 Goodwill donation locations in the United States and Canada.  To find a store near you, visit www.goodwill.org and click on the “Find your local Goodwill” icon.

This has been a guest post by Emily from Grayslake, IL
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