People of Goodwill

By Mir
November 15, 2009

Hooray—it looks like Chickadee is going to live. We’ll be headed in for some more tests, next week, but she’s stopped with the narcolepsy (which, quite frankly, was freaking me out) and feels well enough to torment her brother and talk back to us. So I’m pretty sure that’s good news, all things considered.

Yesterday I found myself full up on cabin fever after most of a week trapped at home with a sick kid, and I kissed my family goodbye and fled the house.

I didn’t need to do anything. Well, that’s not true—I needed to shop for a new bed for Chickadee’s room (which is also the guest room), but mostly I just needed to get OUT. So before I went bed shopping, I went to Goodwill.

I always have such high hopes for Goodwill. I… am not very bright.

Look; where I used to live, I was around the corner from a Rich People Goodwill. I found TONS of awesome things there. I used to go every week, and I was never disappointed.

Now my local Goodwill is… different. A lot of the clothing there is from Walmart. (Uh, nothing against Walmart.) (Okay, that’s a total lie. I hate Walmart.) (But the POINT is that at Goodwill you should be able to buy stuff secondhand for less money than it cost new, right? Isn’t the Walmart stuff the same price but now pre-stained?)

Nevertheless, hope springs eternal, and off I go.

During my time there I realized that the Goodwill world is in need of my wisdom. Yes. (I told you I was going a little stir crazy….)

To the people who donate items to Goodwill:

1) If it’s covered in paint, dirt, or god-only-knows, it should be thrown away or used as a rag, not donated to the thrift store.

2) Ditto if it’s ripped in several places.

3) And if it’s lime green and/or has lewd pictures on it, it should just be burned.

To the people who put the items out on the racks Goodwill:

1) Look, I understand that it’s not a particularly high-paying job. But if something is obviously damaged beyond repair, maybe consider not putting it out.

2) Is there a method to, or perhaps it’s some sort of weird contest in, where the children’s jeans get hidden all over the store in the adult racks? Once you get up into 12+ I can see mistaking them for adult sizes, but jeans that are boys’ size 8 slim, on the women’s rack? Really??

3) For those rare items that are actually in good condition and from this decade, could you maybe not put the price tag plastic thingie where it’s going to leave an obvious hole in the garment?

To the people shopping at Goodwill:

1) The shopping carts are for your convenience. Not for filling up with toddlers and leaving in the middle of the aisle, unattended.

2) Those are dressing rooms, not bathrooms. Please bear that in mind before removing your pants.

3) Speaking of which, if the dressing room door is closed and locked, it’s not necessary to bang on it and curse.

4) If your child is screaming his or her head off, there is nothing in the store you are in such desperate need of that you must continue to shop while other patrons’ heads explode on either side of your caterwauling spawn. I promise. Just take the kid and go home.

5) If your child is running free and pulling things off the racks and shelves, chances are you’re only minutes from the screaming, on account of someone else is probably going to step on the kid (whether accidentally or on purpose, well, who knows).

I survived to tell the tale, but I only got one shirt. Which hardly seems worth the trauma.

And then I went bed shopping and my head exploded. Because it was so much fun the last time I did it, and this time I forgot to have ice cream.

P.S. My parents arrive in one week. The new bed will be here in two weeks. Um. Oops?


  1. Em

    Leaving my toddlers in a cart and walking away actually sounds very convenient to me.

    I have yet to find a rich people goodwill, unfortunatly.

  2. Tam

    Our version of Goodwill is “Vinnies” (St Vincent De Paul). I picked up a handful of good kids books from there once, many moons ago, before I had kids (I worked in childcare – i’m not a freak who just likes picture books!)and haven’t been game enough to step foot in the place again.

    The toddlers screaming in the cart can often only be topped by the toddlers screaming in the cart while the parents scream at each other, while you do the “duck and dive, sorry coming through, don’t stop your hysterics on my account” to the register. When the punching started I left. *sigh* Makes Walmart sound like heaven.

  3. wilma ham

    Hmm, just a little suggestion from someone who has NOT been trapped at home for a while, never ever again go to that kind of shop when you are NOT rested and after being marrooned for that long.
    It does NOT seem like retail therapy and the medicine that you probably needed.
    Next time sit in your car for a while to think so you avoid wrong diagnoses and wrong medicine. Leave that to the doctors.

  4. Taxmom (Katy)

    Delurking (enjoy your blog btw) to comment on Goodwill: We call our local ‘generic’ goodwill, (which apparently makes a living off of those of us who are too cheap to pay Goodwill prices for just the reasons you state), ‘California Creepy’ and for good reason. However, like the commenter above, every so often there is a gem in the dross. My proudest finds: a pack of 30 Star Trek fan mags (xmas AND birthday for my older kid) and for the younger one, a t-shirt that looks something like the Rosetta Stone with the proclamation: “Syria – birthland of the Alphabet!” PS Glad your daughter is doing better.

  5. Chuck

    I need a new bed, but I keep procrastinating. I’ll get one eventually…

  6. dad

    We’ll pack our sleeping bags.
    We only need a spot of dry land, a crust of bread and free reign with the kids and dog.

  7. ChristieNY

    Maybe they’ll just need to visit again around Christmas to try out the new bed? ;)

  8. Damsel

    lol @ your dad… pretty sure he and MY dad are long-lost siblings!

  9. meghann

    You probably don’t want to hear about the bed I found for my daughter at Goodwill then. I paid $40 for it, brought it home, looked it up online, and it was a bed that costs $1,000 new. Totally serious. It was this bed, and it came with the trundle too.

    It’s ok if you hate me, I am kind of awesome.

  10. StephLove

    I went thrift store shopping today. At ours all the kids’ clothes are mixed together regardless of size, divided only by gender. I’d never been there before and spent the first fifteen minutes all confused and frustrated and wondering why I came when I wanted a very specific thing (light pink turtleneck, size 3T) and not just to browse for whatever looked good. I swore I wouldn’t come back. Then I found it. A light pink turtleneck, size 3T, for $1.45. I am totally going back.

    I did see more stained stuff than and the more upscale (and well organized) consignment shop where I usually shop for the kids’ clothes.

  11. Kate

    I ordered a dining room table. For Thanksgiving. When my family is visiting. And it should come–the first week of December. Oops. I’m sure eating off of cardboard boxes will be just as good, right?

  12. carolyn

    My nickname for Goodwill is GW Boutique. And sometimes the bounty is plentiful. Yesterday, for example, I got a beautiful black merino wool v-neck sweater for $3.95. How can you beat that? But sometimes, there is nothing and it is a mess and I wonder why I bother. Hit and miss, I guess. But when I find something fabulous? Oh so worth the trouble!

  13. Groovecatmom

    Mir, can I be your sister? And maybe your dad will adopt me? He sounds awesome.

  14. Aubri

    Oh man! I love Rich People Goodwill! I miss it… can’t wait to be back on the Fancy-Pants East Coast again, and right around the corner from that wonderful store.

    Have faith, even among the wreckage, there will occasionally be something fabulous!

  15. Nicki

    Any chance the folks are actually going to stay long enough to see this bed?

    And thank you for reminding me why I only donate my carefully selected items to Goodwill…and never actually shopping there.

  16. Debra

    Carolyn, my belly dance friends and I call it the GW Boutique also. Sometimes we find great stuff, sometimes not. I went with my daughter on Saturday and she found two American Eagle shirts and I found some stuff to use for Renfaire.

    Miami has some AWESOME Goodwills. Dallas… not so much.

  17. Brigitte

    Hmmm, I must be in the wrong part of the fancy-pants East coast. I have the same problem where our Goodwill (in a brand-new building built just for them!) is more pricey than Walmart.
    I stick with the poor-people Salvation Army. Not as pretty a store, and it smells funny, but the prices are (usually) more what you’d expect.
    I still miss the Ames department stores, though. They were even cheaper than “Sal” sometimes, and NEW!

  18. Frank

    Back home in Central NY there is a HUGE Salvation Army store (Really… like the size of a grocery store). A friend calls it the S&A Boutique. I have seen countless treasures come out of that one. Here in NC we shop at a ‘Rich Folks Consignment Shop’, and have outfitted our son for the first 3 years of his life with excellent stuff. (this place takes the phrase ‘Gently Used’ seriously) Personally I think the best way to shop at one of these stores is to have NOTHING particular in mind.. I am always pleasantly surprised when I do.. and disappointed when I have a specific goal.

  19. PaveGurl

    I like the ripped/ stained stuff, to be honest – it makes for great weekend/ project stuff, especially when it’s 3 sizes too big (which my other stuff… isn’t). I don’t feel guilt about getting paint on it, ‘cos it’s already GOT paint on it.

    … Hmmm. I may be slightly odd on this. I CANNOT wear “old” clothes of mine for things like this – I have some weird moral opposition to altering clothes that I bought at retail, but I can buy a $4 pair of Goodwill jeans and paint all day in them.

  20. Ani

    Drive a ways into town, there’s rich people just east and just north of Atlanta. Hello Rich People Goodwill.

    Here, the Rich People Goodwill’s parking lot is regularly full of BMW’s and Mercedes-Benzes. I scored a designer business suit for $12. Woo-hoo!

  21. getsheila

    I used to think The Goodwill Store was like Santa’s workshop, with a back room full of volunteers spending their days fixing the crap donors drop off to make it work again or become otherwise sellable.

    I do live in a fantasy world. I guess it got so bad in my area Goodwill will no longer accept anything that is damaged in any way. Clothing, yes, that makes perfect sense, but furniture? DIYers WANT cheap furniture that cries out for a makeover!

    Hm…feeling an overwhelming urge to visit my local Goodwill Store.

  22. Summer

    My friend who lives in the richer-people-town 20 minutes north of me swears that the thrifting there is AWESOME, and I keep meaning to set aside a Saturday to take her hostage and force her to reveal the locations of all of the rich people thrift stores. I mean, if she’s going to keep showing off her $8 designer purses, she owes me, right?

    In my town, the Goodwill puts all of the clothes on a rack with similar items (i.e. all kid-size pants, all ladies dresses) and then gives a flat price per category. So it might be possible to find a pair of kid-size pants that’s a bargain at $4.50, but c’mon, I can do better than that if I get lucky at Target. I miss the thrift stores around DC, which priced each item individually.

    So our Goodwill pretty much sucks, but at least I found some fantastic furniture at ReStore….

  23. Heather

    I do not know about Goodwill around here recently – since the last time – a few years ago – it was a jumbled mess. You might try floor models at furniture stores – I have friends who have gotten great deals that way.

    However, the kids screaming and running wild in the store -it doesn’t matter what store – it needs to stop. I get looks from other parents (whose kids are terrorizing the other shoppers and clerks) when I discipline my child for that type of behavior. My mom and I were at ON this weekend and these three kids were throwing clothing on the floor, stomping on it and running screaming into people. It wasn’t until we were at the next shop when we saw the kids again that we realized they did have a parent with them. Oh, and they appeared younger than my almost three old. Then again, I have a leash for my child and I am not afraid to use it especially after she locked herself in the handicapped bathroom at Target playing what she though was hide and seek.

  24. Katie in MA

    Not “oops.” Now they’ll have to come back again! Bonus vacation – I call that SNEAKY! :)

  25. Shauna

    My mom is a champ when it comes to second hand stores. I am a dud. A pathetic dud. ONCE I found an AMAZING Rich Person second hand store where the staff love clothes so much you wouldn’t even dare to bring crap over the threshold. This is the only place I did any clothes shopping this year IT WAS THAT GOOD.

    But, I suck at shopping so I’m not a particularly fantastic judge.

  26. Mom101

    Okay this: Isn’t the Walmart stuff the same price but now pre-stained?

    made me laugh out loud. I mean, who knew you could get worse than walmart only pay more?

    So glad chickadee is okay.

  27. Flea

    We have a rich people’s Goodwill and I squishy heart it. My aunt in Duluth donates to St. Vincent dePaul, which might be worth a shot. Definitely ask around about a better Goodwill, though. Gah.

  28. Wendalette

    Referring to Chickadee’s tests, I’m hoping maybe one of them is for Lyme disease. Some of what you’ve described about her symptoms reminds me of ones I’ve had over the years, none of which seemed to be related to each other, and some of which seemed “atypical” of Lyme, like a recurring non-bullseye rash spreading on both hands symmetrically. However, when I went to a new doctor this year (an osteopath), one of the first three tests she ordered was for Lyme and it turned up on the high end of the positive scale. It surely can’t hurt to check it out, even if only to rule that out, at least (well, except for the blood-drawing involved).
    Good luck, and many prayers on your (plural, as in the family’s) behalf.

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