Extreme Thrifting: How to Survive the Goodwill Outlet Store

Goodwill Boston Outlet Store {thosegracse.com}

A few months ago,  I crossed over from a casual thrifter to an extreme thrifter. I came to this realization while thrift shopping with my mother. I was frantically pulling items left and right, almost regardless of label or size. Yes, my laid back days of thrift shopping were long gone. Enter the Goodwill Outlet Store near Boston in Roxbury, MA.

The Goodwill Outlet Store is a magical place where every item of clothing costs $1.75 regardless of size, brand or style. It has hundreds of pieces of clothing waiting to be purchased. But don’t be deceived, the Goodwill Outlet Store (and others like it) isn’t for the faint of heart. They’re a totally different ballgame than shopping at a typical thrift store. They require rolling up your sleeves and getting a little dusty. However, if you invest the time and effort, you can make some amazing finds. And if you’re like me, the $1.75 price tag will make that diamond in the rough all the prettier.

Tips for Surviving The Goodwill Outlet Store

Though my tips come from how to survive this specific store, I’m sure they can apply to any secondhand outlet store. Keep reading to find out how to score big!

Bring Cash
Self explanatory, but most important to know especially in our debit card ruled lives. They take cash only!

Check it Out Before Committing
The Goodwill Outlet Store is, in a word, overwhelming. It’s basically a warehouse space filled with about 40 to 60 huge rolling bins that contain everything from clothing to housewares. The first time I popped my head in, I was a bit shocked. It is a totally different shopping process. It took me three times to muster up the courage and energy to get digging. Get your shock out of the way, then dive in!

Be Ready to Dig
Usually “digging” entails going through every hanger. At the Goodwill Outlet Store, it means literally digging. Like pulling out a hundred items from a bin before you see the bottom. It requires patience and endurance to make the find.

Don’t Go Hungry or Thirsty
Since this what I’d consider a physically active activity, you’ll want to be hydrated and fed before you arrive. You might get over heated or feel your tummy rumbling, which can distract you.

Don’t Go Pretty
This isn’t your afternoon out with the girls. You’re probably going to get dusty and sweaty so don’t wear your favorite jeans. I also like pulling my hair back so I don’t get overheated and so my hair doesn’t get in the way.

Leave Your Jacket In Your Car and Your Purse at Home
Since you’ll be getting hot, you won’t need your jacket inside. Also make sure to leave your big purse at home so you can have your hands free at all times.

Examine Your Finds
Things get donated to the thrift store for many reasons, one of which is holes and rips in an item. Sure, more of the items at the Goodwill are not damaged, but some are. Make sure to examine your finds carefully for imperfections. If you don’t know how to fix them or don’t plan of fixing them, leave them behind for the next digger.

Happy Shopping!

I hope these tips help you survive the Goodwill Outlet Store and others like it. As I mentioned, it is a lot of work, but you can score big. Don’t believe me? Just today I picked up items from 7 for Mankind, The Loft, Banana Republic and Levi’s. And get this, some items were even brand new with tags! You just can’t beat that.

About Courtney Mirenzi

Courtney Mirenzi is the voice behind Those Graces. She has been named one of the 50 Most Fashionable People in Boston, one of The Boston Globe's Top Bloggers and favorite human of one of her cats. She loves red lipstick, hiking and traveling. Find out more.

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  1. Amber Cowles says:

    I have been going to the Goodwill Outlet here in Michigan for a year now. I am still amazed at some of the finds. Everything here is sold by the pound. Most things are .79 LB. I bring a large shopping bag to keep my hands free and sort through everything later.

  2. This sounds amazing. I have to admit though I have little patience for thrifting as you guys call it. It sounds a little like the places ‘vintage’ stores in the UK get their clothes from (then mark them up considerably and sell them). There’s no doubt you’d be able to get some great finds though if you put the time and effort and for $1.75 it’s incredibly cheap!

    • It is SO cheap! I have a really big issue with shopping at vintage stores where they’ve clearly marked an item way up. I always get annoyed because I know I can find that same exact thing myself. I think it’s a great concept for people who don’t like to dig, but where’s the fun in that?

  3. Those are great tips. I often get very anxious with large thrift stores. We have a Savers up here, but I never have the patience to find anything. Next time I’ll be sure to be more prepared :)

    • I’ve been to Savers before! If you do want to check out Goodwills near Boston that aren’t huge, I’d recommend Davis Square and their Allston/Brighton location. The Davis one is more student-y/hippie-esque. The Allston/Brighton one is a bit more upscale and definitely has more of a BU-vibe.

  4. I can relate! I have also found my thrifting paradise. There’s a school run thrift store about 10 miles from my house. I kept hearing how good it was, so finally I checked it out. All the clothes on hangers were only 25 cents each! And for 50 cents you could get a grab bag (I’m talking big black garbage bag here). They receive so many donations from out of state that there is a constant turnover. Needless to say, it puts me in thrifting heaven! It’s almost a shame when you get so cheap you hate to pay Goodwill prices!! Debbie @ http://www.ilovemylemonadelife.com

    • It’s almost a shame when you get so cheap you hate to pay Goodwill prices!!

      SO TRUE! The Goodwills around where I live sometimes mark up pieces they think they can get more for. I get so annoyed every time I see something for $10+.

      That school thrift store sounds amazing! When I was growing up, there was a local church that had something similar. I still have vintage clutches I snagged there for $0.50!

      It’s hard when you cross the line into extreme thrifting, though. It’s like the thrill of the find gets more special when you pay even less money.

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