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Monday, June 16, 2014

What else is Goodwill good for? Clothing

With the money you save on the stuff that's easy to find (the things I discussed in my last post on the topic: things that few people want because they have them), you can buy clothing, which in many cases is the easiest to find.

Clothing for babies and children! So easy!

Before I continue with this rumination, I should mention that, while my current Goodwill is just excellent, it was not always so. When I moved here, I would go with hope to the Goodwill downtown and emerge with...nothing.  I couldn't even find anything for my children. Then the population in the next town grew, bringing with it lots of upper-middle class people and strip malls. Before strip-malls-in-next-town, I went (when I could) to "Bloomingdeals," where I could find the all-cotton clothing I craved for my little ones. Post-Katrina, Bloomingdeals (run by Junior League) has become rather pitiful in selection. And my Goodwill has too much good stuff. Moral: thrifters must be flexible.

Back to baby clothes. Easy! Many people give clothing as gifts and much is outgrown before the receipt of the gift. Seriously. I had big babies.

Kids: less easy, especially boys, but it can be done. The key is to anticipate your needs. You WILL find a nice winter jacket in the summer. You will NOT find a nice winter jacket in the fall or winter. Amy D of Tightwad Gazette fame had clothing stored by size in her attic. And she had 6 kids. She was extremely neat. I can't imagine how I would store such bounty.

Adult Clothing: Other than shirts, men's is close to impossible. So I don't try very hard for my two guys.

Women's clothing: an embarrassment of riches. Miss Em and I used to be excited to find Ann Taylor Loft and Banana Republic. No more. Miss Em used to be thrilled to find Urban Outfitters and Anthropologie. Now even Anthropologie is rejected at times. Forget Urban O.

Now we hunt for Eileen Fisher. That's been a challenge, but we find about 10 pieces a year. Miss Em and I discovered that  we can wear pretty much any size, which makes things easier. We also like the rich-lady chic of Carlisle. We have good luck with these brands because EF doesn't have much hanger appeal (and we often find items with tags cut out, but which can nonetheless be identified by the tiny RN# inside). Carlisle isn't very well-known (outside of the rich ladies that buy it at home parties held by other rich people), so there's not much competition for it. Oh, and, of course, cashmere. We've become very picky about quality because there's so much.

Is it worth going to thrifts to find 10 pieces of EF a year? No. But you're getting them while you are at the thrift anyway, getting the easy-to-find stuff for you and your loved ones. That's really what Goodwill** is good for.

**By Goodwill, I mean any thrift store. Mine just happens to be Goodwill.

Pic below from past Carlisle Collection. I have a similar jacket. I love it!



Duchesse said...

I think "what can be found at Goodwill" is a function of where you live. Here in Montréal the cashmere will get picked in a flash and Carlisle would be ignored not because we don't know what it is, but because it's just not a look most women would wear here.

Men's t-shirts and woven shirts abound, often overstock from stores.

Good leather bags or shoes are about impossible to find at Goodwill, but there are lots of snowshoes and cross-country ski equipment.

Some thrifters swear by trips to secondary locations or smaller cities; the big city outlets get swarmed. A friend of ours got an YSL men's raincoat in a Goodwill in upstate NY.

I also think what is sought varies by age. A beat up leather jacket will be passed over by a woman of 50 but jumped on by a 20 year old who likes the distressed look.

dotsybabe said...

I donate unwanted clothes at Goodwill because of their mission to help people with employment, job training, and the like. So that's another thing Goodwill is good for....