10 Goodwill Shopping Secrets That Only Employees Know

Becky | Freebie Lady
by Becky | Freebie Lady

Here are 10 secrets to Goodwill shopping that you don’t know about, but you need to know about.


I’m sure that many of you love to shop at Goodwill; the deals are amazing and the hunt is a lot of fun. You need these 10 secrets, that only the employees know about, to get the most out of your shopping experience.

1. Wash the clothes after buying them

Have you ever been Goodwill shopping and noticed that all the clothes have a good scent? I always thought it was because they treated the clothes for bedbugs, lice, and other disgusting stuff. But they don’t. They use an air freshener to make the clothes smell nice. So, wash them when you bring them home.


2. Buy gift cards

You can buy discounted gift cards for Goodwill from Gift Card Granny, Rise, or even on eBay.


3. Check out all the Goodwills in your neighborhood

You would think if an item was donated at one store, it would be sold at that store. So, you would think wealthier neighborhoods have Goodwills with better items. But, it doesn’t work that way.


Items are sold at stores where they are more likely to be sold. For example, a Goodwill in a college town sells more furniture. Goodwill will send donated furniture to that neighborhood.


It’s important to check out all the Goodwills around you to find the best Goodwill to shop at. There are also Goodwill boutiques and even Goodwills that sell by the pound. Check out Goodwill’s website to learn what types are near you.

Vintage Fashion Guide website

4. Use the Vintage Fashion Guide website

If you want to know if an item of clothing at Goodwill is worth the price tag, check out vintagefashionguide.org. It will tell you everything you need to know about the article of clothing, including if it's actually worth the price tag.

Shopping at Goodwill

5. Talk to the manager

Goodwill pairs with stores, and gets slightly damaged or close-out brand-new items. At my Goodwill, they actually sell brand-new, with-the-tags Zara clothes, directly from the Zara company, slashed at 75% off. These are clothing with a slight imperfection or returned items.


Ask the manager at your local Goodwill if they pair with any companies to get brand-new items. Ask the manager what days they put these new items out on the floor. Goodwill managers are real people, they are usually nice, and they want to sell the items, so they will usually answer all your questions.

Testing the electronics at Goodwill

6. Test the electronics 

If you get an item home and you don’t like it, or there's something wrong with it, you can return it for seven days (sometimes even 14 days). If you buy an electronic and it doesn’t work you can return it for full credit or merchandise credit.


Also, test the electronics at the store. Employees are more than willing to help. There are outlets all over the place at Goodwill, so plug it in and give it a whirl.


7. Get Goodwill coupons and rewards

Many Goodwills have coupons, point-reward systems, and other ways for you to get added discounts. You can ask your store manager, or go online to Goodwill’s webpage to sign up for emails and point-reward systems

Nostalgic Goodwill finds like Cricket the doll

8. Sell your Goodwill finds

Selling stuff on eBay, Craigslist, or even Etsy is still a good way to make extra money. Here are some clues for what to look for to sell. Typewriters of any kind, even from the 1980s, sell amazingly. Anything nostalgic that you pick up and are like, “Oh my gosh! I remember this from when I was a kid,” sells well.


For example, this doll, Cricket, that I got when I was four or five years old sells on eBay for like 200 or 300 dollars. You don’t even have to have her working; people just want her for the nostalgic value.


Digital clocks, boom boxes, old electronics, and authentic band t-shirts are all items that sell well. There are tons of resources online that will give you a clue about which items sell well on Facebook Marketplace, eBay, and Etsy, so check them out. 


9. Check out the paintings section 

Believe it or not, Picassos and other really famous paintings have been donated unknowingly to Goodwill, so check out the paintings section. Look for signatures and names on the paintings. If you see a signature on an item, you can use Google Lens to check out the artist and see if they are famous or not.  

What's the the best day to shop at Goodwill?

10. Find the best day to shop at Goodwill

I found that Wednesday is the best day for Goodwill shopping. Here’s why: Saturdays are usually the last days of garage sales. People pack up and donate the stuff on Sundays, and that gives donation centers and distribution centers two days to sort the items and get them onto the floor by Wednesday.


If you really want to know the best day to buy stuff at your particular Goodwill, ask the manager. 


Goodwill shopping secrets

One tiny tidbit of information is that Goodwills only sell about 40-60% of the items that are donated. The rest of the stuff is donated to other places or recycled. So, only a very small majority of donated items are just thrown into the trash. If you donate items, they are tax deductible, so keep the receipt. 


What is the most interesting item you have ever found when Goodwill shopping? Let us know in the comments.

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