Goodwill Outlet Blowout Sale

It takes a lot to get me up early on a Saturday morning. The Goodwill Outlet Blowout Sale is on a short list of events I willingly get up early for (followed closely by Christmas and well….nothing). If you have never been to the Goodwill Outlet, here’s a recap of my experience and a few tips to take on your own Goodwill Outlet adventure.

I rolled over Saturday morning (at 6:00 a.m.) grabbed my “Outlet Digging Tools” and was on my merry, non-caffeinated way. I arrived ten minutes before opening time with a line already formed outside the entrance. I donned my Outlet Digging Tools (gloves, dust mask, a $10 dollar bill, and my game face) as the doors opened promptly at 7 a.m., and the digging began. Large blue bins line the room in rows containing various items. Signs hanging from above indicate which items are included in the bins below and the price per pound. (Did I mention you pay by the pound here?! More on that to follow.)

 

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I noticed three general strategies from Outlet regulars: (1) frantically grab everything in sight and pile it into your buggy, weeding through it later, (2) skim the tops of bins for items that catch your eye and snatch,  or (3) meticulously dig through each bin, grabbing only what interests you. I chose option 3 because option 1 is too overwhelming for me and option 2 takes all the fun out of the Outlet experience (plus I brought gloves just for this purpose).

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Luckily, I brought a shopping buddy, Rachel, with me. It was her first experience at the Outlet so I prepped her before on what to expect. (The Goodwill Outlet is NOT for all shoppers.) It’s essential to have a PIC at the Outlet because the experience is overwhelming solo and extremely time-consuming. There were groups of up to 5 people shopping together. While digging, we stayed in the general area of one another to quickly show off our gems and provide comic relief for some of the outrageous items we found. (Does anyone need a Deja Vu tee?)  Even with a shopping buddy, we only made it through half of the blue bins in an hour and a half before calling it quits.

The check-out at the Goodwill Outlet is different from most retail check-outs unless you buy meat dresses by the lb. (i.e. Lady Gaga). If your haul is big enough, you roll your buggy on a large scale to weigh your loot. Luckily, my haul was smaller so I placed my items on a smaller deli-type scale. Your items are then weighed by type, clothes at $0.79/lb. Unlike a traditional shopping experience, I really had no idea what my total would be. This made the experience more exhilarating as I saw the weight of my haul, then the grand total. (I imagine this is also how extreme couponers feel.)

Here’s a round-up of my haul (and estimated original retail value):

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Estimated Original Retail Value (in order from top left):

Vintage – Western Essentials by Karman ($40)

Oscar de la Renta sweater ($60)

Target Plaid Shirt ($23)

Target Cocoon Sweater ($30)

NY & Co. Jacket ($50)

Gap Striped Tee ($25)

Vintage UT Bleached Tee ($48)

Bonnie Boerer & Co. Sweater ($100)

French Connection Sequin Tee ($188)

Ann Taylor Sequin Skirt ($118)

Estimated Original Retail Value: $682

Goodwill Outlet Price: $6.24!!

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If you have successfully conquered your local Goodwill and would like to give the Goodwill Outlet a whirl, here are my top four tips (in addition to the Tips for Gold-Digging):

  1. Arrive early. It’s less crowded early in the morning, and the bins are more picked over as the day goes on. 
  2. Bring a shopping buddy. This is important to cover the most area in the least amount of time and provide some comic relief.
  3. Wear gloves. Some of the bins are very dusty or contain objects that may have sharp edges. The cashier has gloves at the register if you forget to bring your own pair.
  4. Have an open mind. There are many types of people in the Goodwill Outlet. In my experience, the Outlet regulars and Goodwill staff are extremely friendly and complimentary of each others’ finds.

 

Have you been to the Goodwill Outlet? Do you have additional tips? Leave your tips in the comments below.

 

Here is my cat, Gracie, fully accepting my purchases and initiating them into my wardrobe by spreading his cat hair on them.

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22 Comments

  1. Elizabeth
    November 6, 2015 / 1:09 am

    Loving your blog, Betsy! I had my Goodwill “lightbulb moment” within the last year, and could kick myself for being prideful about shopping there, and wasting so much money for so long. Anyways, I’m still learning, but I’ve had so much success already and I’m addicted! There isn’t enough space to share all my proudest moments so far (although $2.50 for designer jeans is towards the top!). My question is about the outlet. I googled and found an official outlet store in Chattanooga, but it’s open 7 days a week. Your experience sounds like it was more like a special event. Congrats on your successful shopping trip, too!!

    • November 7, 2015 / 2:11 am

      Thank you so much! Yes, I know. For some reason, Goodwill has had a negative stigma in the past. It’s definitely an addiction. There’s nothing better than coming home after a Goodwill trip and googling an items original retail price! Sometimes, I even find the item for sale online. The Outlet here is open 7 days a week as well and stocks clothing on a regular basis. They had an “Outlet Blowout Sale” because there was an abundance of clothing
      (some of which never even made it to the Goodwill retail floor). I thought this would be a good time to highlight the experience because most everything I buy at Goodwill is clothing. The general rule is that if something doesn’t sale at the Goodwill retail store in 3 weeks, it goes to the Outlet. Hope this helps and answers your question!

  2. Brooke
    November 6, 2015 / 9:22 pm

    WOW! You found some great prices and I cannot believe the end price, AMAZING! You are truly motivating me to thrift more…I haven’t done it in a while and you have me wanting to make a trip. Do you have a list of your top places to thrift here in Nashville?!

    xo,
    Brooke | KBStyled

    • November 7, 2015 / 2:04 am

      Thank you!! Yes, I stick mostly to Goodwill. My favorite locations are East Nashville, Bellevue, and Franklin! They also happened to be the most organized so maybe that’s why it’s easier for me to find items there.

  3. Brooke
    November 6, 2015 / 9:23 pm

    This is sooooo amazing! Great tips and I need more info on where to go…top thrifting places in Nashville! Can’t believe that price!

    xo,
    Brooke | KBStyled

  4. November 6, 2015 / 9:40 pm

    Whoa your findings are amazing! The goodwill outlet has always been appealing because I know there are treasures to be found but also super overwhelming! Can’t wait to give it a try and employ some of your tips:)

    • November 7, 2015 / 2:00 am

      I would have been very overwhelmed if I had gone alone. Let me know how it goes! I would love to see what you find.

  5. November 6, 2015 / 11:20 pm

    Oh my goodness! You’re for sure a pro at thrifting because you got some super cute stuff! I never seem to find anything good when I go to the regular Goodwill, but maybe I need to try this out! Thanks for the cool tips! Xo

    • November 7, 2015 / 1:59 am

      I’m not quite a pro yet! I’ve found if you go as often as I do, you are bound to stumble across something good once in a while!

  6. carrie
    November 11, 2015 / 10:48 pm

    So glad that they are bringing back clothing on a regular basis at the outlet as that’s why I quit going there nearly 2 years ago and stuck with .99 color of the week wednesdays at the regular stores. yes the outlet is not for the faint of heart or germ a phobs. I usually go by myself with my headphones and dig for several hours. Have found some great clothing, shoes, books and other type of items on my trips there. Another hint is that if you are alone – or worried about people looking through your cart find a sheet of some sort to cover it up. Some of the groups will get multiple carts full and place them in the corners with the sheets over them as a sign that they are off limits. So I started doing the same as I had heard people will look through others carts if not. Also if you are going to be there awhile bring a drink and a snack to keep you going.

    • November 11, 2015 / 10:50 pm

      Thank you for tips, Carrie! I saw carts with sheets covering them and had no idea why. That explains it!

  7. November 13, 2015 / 8:53 pm

    I went to Goodwill Outlet a few weeks ago and scored the cutest picnic basket, but I never really find a lot of clothes. With your great tips, I am going to go back and try to tackle the bins! I typically go in the afternoon so I will have to get a friend, a cup of coffee and make my way to the outlet bright and early!

    xo,
    KayElle

  8. Laura Scott
    November 17, 2015 / 12:48 am

    I am going to Nashville, Franklin area tomorrow and want to go to a Goodwill store..will I have any luck finding anything in those areas?

    • November 17, 2015 / 3:59 pm

      Yes, there is a great Goodwill store in Highway 96 in Franklin! Good luck!

      • carrie
        November 17, 2015 / 4:01 pm

        tomorrow is also wednesday which is .99 color of the week ..i have been happy with things i’ve found in those areas

  9. February 11, 2016 / 2:54 pm

    Yes!!! I’ve been shopping at The Bins since childhood. Screw negative stigmas, I furnished my whole apartment when I moved out on my own from there. To this day most my clothes come from there as well. It’s such a fun adventure but you’re right, not for everyone. I even have a plant that was almost dead when I found it who in the blue bins that’s thriving now.
    Great post!!!

    • February 11, 2016 / 4:52 pm

      That’s awesome! I can’t believe you revived a plant!

  10. Kateri
    February 11, 2016 / 4:49 pm

    I am going to make a trip to an outlet store this saturday, it will be mine and my husband’s first time to the outlet. Do they usually have like bins full of housewares and stuff? Or is everything just in a bin together? I’m really not up for digging through clothes to find picture frames or to find things to decorate my house. Are clothes separated by size? Or is it just a jumbled mess?

    • February 11, 2016 / 4:54 pm

      I’m not sure about all Goodwill outlets, but the one in Nashville has bins organized by general category (i.e. Clothes, housewares, toys, etc). Clothes are not separated by size or gender. Everything is pretty much a jumbled, beautiful, mess! Have fun and can’t wait to see what you find!

  11. February 12, 2016 / 9:24 am

    Your finds always inspire me to go to Goodwill!! I need to find an outlet close to me, thanks for sharing!

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