Saturday, November 3, 2012

Crossing the Line

I am a bargain shopper, and have been for as far back as I can remember. It probably comes from being a product of the Great Depression. Wait...I’m not that old, but I sometimes do drive like I am (no offense, Senior Saints, but SOMETIMES your demographic members do drive a smidge under the speed limit...not everyone, but some of the group!), and I would love to hide candy in every drawer in my house if I could. I kind of look forward to being able to do that with no one questioning it.

But I never knew that there was a line I would ever have to cross in order to get a deal. I love to shop and I love a good deal. I have in the past year or so begun to shop thrift stores. Which reminds me of something I've been meaning to let people know. If we are friends or family members and you anticipate a gift from me at Christmas, please be advised that it will more than likely be an item I have either purchased via thrifting, one I have made, or one I have repurposed or remade into something new. Consider yourself notified.

Anyway, today we were on the west side of the city for the 11yo's soccer tournament and between games we had some time to kill. Despite the fact that it was a balmy 38 degrees and raining-leaning-toward-sleeting (there WILL be another post about that in the future!) and sitting outside for a picnic sounded like a lovely choice, instead we opted for ANYTHING indoors.

My hubby's office is close by so we went there to warm up and eat our packed lunch. The PBA were thrilled, as always, because even though we've done multiple tournaments, they still cling to the hope that I will somehow forget to pack a lunch and that instead we will have to treat ourselves to lunch out.

Today was clearly not their lucky day.

Anyway, after we ate, we headed to the Goodwill Outlet which we passed on the way to the office. Have any of you been to the Goodwill Outlet?  I had heard tell of such a place but had never had the opportunity to see one for myself.

Today was clearly my lucky day.

I watch American Pickers all the time and have always been confident I could do that kind of work. Before I walked in there, I was certain that I would go to the ends of the earth for a deal. But as soon as I walked in the store, I was not so sure. Instantly overwhelmed, I waited for a few seconds, paralyzed by what lay before me. Some people were standing around, just watching. But they had carts full of items. They did not appear to have checked out at the register yet, so that confused me.

In addition, employees were constantly bringing bins onto and off of the floor. And what I could see from the middle of the room…very little was price marked. It's mostly sold by weight (except for the furniture). So that alone enticed me back into the game.

Signs on walls around the large warehouse walls listed prices per pound. Prices per pound? What was this place? The only place I buy per pound is the fruits and veggies at the grocery. Befuddled does not come close to what I was.

Eventually, I realized that the people standing around were simply waiting for new products to be brought out. So I eeked past them into the middle of the room and started looking around. When it became obvious that these containers were full of “not well- sorted” items and included trash, I thought I might turn on my heel and walk back out. But then I noticed all the people rummaging through bins with shopping carts next to them full of stuff...albeit many of the people were wearing gloves as they were sorting (and I was not)...but they had many treasures to show for their hard work.

So I somewhat reluctantly grabbed my cart and started in. I was already being cautious, because, as I mentioned, it was obvious that these were not the “cream of the crop” items. After I had picked through a couple bins, I noticed the signs advertising this advice: "Caution. Bins may contain sharp objects.” What?!? Where am I? Since when may I get stabbed cut or poked while shopping? And when do I need to wear gloves?

I stopped again and looked around. Was this a joke? It seemed too odd to be real. And yet…

As I watched, I noticed shoppers who were clearly professionals; they utilized grabber tools to help them sort. I watched, impressed, with their ability to turn over all the items in a bin to assess its contents all in about 10 seconds flat. It was slightly overwhelming…and remarkable, all at the same time.

Since I know you’re wondering, I will confess that I found some real treasures today; in my hunt, I came across a couple puzzles (who knows if all the pieces are there…I’ll keep you posted), a couple books and a toy requested by the 9yo. As I checked out, I discovered that it was 50% off day to boot. Total spent: $1.03, including tax.

Maybe I didn't cross a line I would never cross again. In fact, I think it will be my next personal challenge…but next time I will take my gloves and my grabber.  

Happy Goodwilling!

For more information on the Goodwill Outlets, you can check them out here.


  1. I knew the places existed, but I have never known anyone to actually go there. Of course, my thrifty friend, you would be the first person I know to try it out :)

    1. Yes and like I said...I do plan to go back. Want to accompany me?