Tag Archives: Goodwill stores

The Last Taboo (just in time for Valentine’s day!)

I feel like Farmer Ted in Sixteen Candles, holding panties up for everyone to see!

But while there are things in our society that are so *Hush-Hush* that to even mention them (like incest, polygamy or asking a woman her age) would bring you a social death rivaling that of Ricky in Better of Dead (yep, I’m a child of the 80’s) there is also another social TABOO just as vile… buying underwear from a Thrift store!

Yes, there was one part of this challenge that I DEFINITELY was not sure how I was going to cope with, that of the purchasing undergarments.  So the month before I started the challenge I stocked up on some undies just in case.  Well, I didn’t take weight loss into consideration and now I am finding I need some dedicates.

I’ve been avoiding this subject like the plague but it just so happened to come up in conversation with a fellow Thrift-Master AND its perfect timing for our LOVE holiday, Valentines!  Who doesn’t want to kindle that passion-fire on Valentine’s with their partner?  And what better way than to show off some new, sexy undergarments?!!  I mean come-on… Victoria’s Secret is everywhere for a reason!

But how was I going to purchase an undergarment that didn’t make me CRINGE to think of where it’s been before? And worse yet how was I going to show my face to those that now knew I was wearing THRIFT STORE UNDERWEAR???

I entered the area with caution…

Come to find out the Goodwill ONLY sells underwear that is brand-new, so their underwear section is pretty small.  In fact the underwear area was a small section (about the length of my fore-arm) on the bottom rack under bras and easy to miss but worth the look!  The Goodwill also sells items that are overstocks from larger retailers so I ended up finding a brand new-with-tags pair of black lace cuties! (above)

Stay tuned for our TABOO -lingerie- VIDEO later this week.  Yet another way to light up your Valentine’s day with hidden (although *Hush-Hush*) treasures at your Goodwill stores!

Happy Valentines WEEK Thrift-public!



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@ the HEART of Thrifting

I started my week with a generous invitation to tour the Tacoma Goodwill Milgard Center, Outlet & Online sales center.  I wrote questions the night before preparing for a typical Q & A session but what I was met with was a warm welcome from their Media Relations/PR Manager, Matthew (Matt)  Erlich.  And even though I had done my fact homework I didn’t yet understand this organization and the community that surrounds it… but that was about to change.

The Goodwill was started by a man with a HEART and a plan, Edgar James Helms who believed people needed “a HAND-UP, not (just) a hand-out” and started employing people to mend donated items for resale back in Boston in 1902.  A concept that has continued to bring jobs (and more importantly HOPE) to ANY person for more than 100 years!

A concept that has locally grown within the Tacoma Goodwill since 1921.

We started our tour in the BUZZ coffee shop, a barista-training program housed under the REACH program for young adults, just one of the many programs offered.  This tour is starting to take shape in my mind… the shape of a community centered around helping people work no matter what their age, sex, ability is… this is getting good!

Then, from the BUZZ coffee shop, we took a walk outside.  Outside not only because it was a pretty day in Tacoma but also because I had been lucky enough to see the work of world-renown Artist/botanist Patrick Blanc back in Paris and I knew that the Tacoma Goodwill had Patrick’s first exterior piece in America.  The “Living Wall” is at the entrance of their REACH center and just absolutely beautiful!

Now while Thrifting, Garage-saleing, Swap-meeting, etc. has been in my blood my entire life… I make no mistake to mention time and time again that I am an avid Thrifter for MANY reasons, most importantly reducing environmental impact.  So to know that a world-renown Eco artist was commissioned by our local Goodwill was a HUGE GREEN-STAR in my eyes because not only do they support reducing waste but they are putting their money where they mouth is with their art work!

Okay… we are off to a good start here!  I’ve been met in a very comfortable setting, more examples of this organization helping it’s citizens are becoming known to me, I’ve just witnessed world-class Eco art…what could be next in this adventure?

So we start touring the Milgard Center and it brings up many questions in my mind.  No, not questions that I had prepared the night before… these were questions just flying off the cuff at every turn because every turn was revealing more than I ever knew possible.  You just can’t prepare for these kind of insights; like their use of technology with “theaters” live-streaming the Tacoma class discussions between both Yakima and Longview.  Their workstations that accommodate any person’s ability with options like voice-command software or large-font capabilities.  The list went on and on as we walked the halls.  I was starting to burst with excitement for the next bit of information to be uncovered… for that next level of this THRIFT community was unfolding before my eyes with each step!

So, let’s just say that the tour of the Milgard Center left me with so much information, so much interest into this organization, that I could NOT explain it all in one post.  Which means I will be writing more about the Tacoma Goodwill for sure!

But WAIT! I’m not done with this post yet!

We haven’t even gotten to the GOODY ROOM yet!  

(Yes, it will be forever-more named the “GOODY ROOM” by me!  But I will also accept “Candy Store“, “Goody Store”, and even the ultimate “When I pass-away from this Beautiful Existence *ha-ha* I’m going to donate a personally-monogramed-legacy-park-bench so that my spirit may sit and drool over every morsel of awesomeness that enters these walls forever more!“)

THAT’S how much you need to keep reading this post!

By this time, with all the downloading of the Tacoma Goodwill, my anticipation level is way past OVERLOAD!  We walk outside to the old Goodwill offices (which now house the outlet center and online sales) and I catch a couple of cold-fresh-air-breaths that do me good!

We open the doors of the outlet center and now my mind turns to THRIFT mode!  We only take a couple of minutes there since we both express the ability to spend hours rummaging so we take a walk to the grand finale of my day (besides the Funky Monkey sandwich in the Neighborhood Bistro that was super yummy)… the ONLINE SHOPPING CENTER!

I mentioned earlier that I’ve grown up around Garage-sales, Swap-meets and Thrift-stores but this unassuming building, the Tacoma Goodwill’s old offices, is a MECCA of GOODIES like I have not seen before!  In these hallow-walls are the people behind the pictures and descriptions of all the best picks from all their donations!  Did you say ALL the BEST of the BEST of their donations???  YEP!!!  All the items in online auctions through Amazon, eBay and ShopGoodwill.com are housed here.

I got to see where the candy (AKA the BEST donated items) gets dropped off and I even got to sneek a peek at the coveted jewelry safe!  OMG thrifters!  All I can say is OMG!  I want my dream job (besides being a Eco-designer turned philanthropist who saves orphaned children from atrocious crimes like lack of LOVE!) to be working in this adult CANDY STORE!  But alas… I will just have to wait my turn for such an honor so in the mean time I will be searching for that perfect park-bench to have my legacy engraved into it for the corner!

So… with all that happened on this day of days, at a local organization that showed me all it had to offer, I will close out this post.  But I will come back to cover more of the Tacoma Goodwill because one posting is not enough to express the amounts of HEART this organization holds for their community!

I LOVE being a Thrifter even more now!  Thanks Matt and Tacoma Goodwill for the tour!

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Imagination @ work!

Yesterday we ventured down to the Federal Way Goodwill and picked up a second brand new toy box for $4!

The box quickly filled up with all the latest toys we purchased…

Then the game was to empty the toys out…

Then all the FUN was to play IN the toy box!


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We don’t need no candles let the Birthday cake BURN!

WOAH!  Get the fire-extinguisher!!!

With the amount of birthday candles being blown out in the next 45 days we could take out an entire city block!

Two birthday’s in February and three in March!  So searching for those birthday items & trying and get them (or something close?!) from the Goodwill has been on my mind.

IDEAS? for…

Anything with Vintage Volkswagen on it

11th Boy’s Birthday (more than likely a gift card here since he’s old enough to pick out things for himself!)

Those “glittery” bracelets for my sister like these ones (that I scored @ the 2010 Glitter Sale)



A whole lotta’ stuff for my partner but since this get’s forwarded to somebody *wink-wink* I can’t post those needed items up here!

I’ve been traveling the ShopGoodwill.com http://www.shopgoodwill.com site for the past couple of weeks and have some auctions up this weekend that I’m hoping to score on!

Speaking of weekends… this weekend is 50% off GREEN TAGS @ the Seattle Goodwill’s and GREEN, RED and YELLOW sales @ the Tacoma based stores http://tacomagoodwill.org/files/Jan_calendar11web.pdf.



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OMG, TOYS Mommy!

Today is 30% off toys @ the main Seattle Goodwill, and since we have a growing little one that’s ALWAYS curious for new things (my bangles were a good deterrent for a while, then it was my hair… OUCH!) we sorted through the isles for quality toys and scored!

We needed another soft book for the car, got it!

We -HEART- wood toys, and found a great PinToy pull-along and a brand new abacus-type toy all for $6.00!






The look in their eyes when you give them the new item…. PRICELESS!

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Thrift Theft

Theft, not a hot topic on a Monday morning (let alone having to deal with it day after day) but when you work in retail, and the public, sometimes theft is a part of that equation.

I have been working in retail for most of my life.  When I was a struggling student in my early 20’s, the only way I had money for all those new fashions was to work at my most desirable boutiques for the discount.  When I started my first business in my mid-20’s I took management jobs at those same boutiques to pay the bills while my business got up and running.  When I became a mother who was sick of not having any cute, Eco-inspired fashions for my son, I created a line and sold it to boutique owners.  Retail has been in my life at almost every stage.

With all these years of retail, I’ve seen my share of theft and thrift stores are NOT immune to the problem.

I bring up this subject today because there are many signs of theft that I see all the time at my favorite thrift stores.  One place in Boulder, CO that I used to frequent had so many tags “shoved” into the corners of the dressing rooms it was pathetic!  I knew that the staff did not care about their store with all those tags there, which left a bad impression on my customer mind, and I eventually stopped shopping there.  I’ve seen women with baby strollers and carriers actually stuffing things in the little pockets to conceal them.  And of lately, at the local Goodwill, I noticed a couple of price tags in the pockets of a coat I went to try on.

There are “obvious” ways thieves conceal or steal items, then there are the not-so-obvious ways…

1.  People switch out the tags for the desired color tag (50% off of $10.99 is ALWAYS better than $10.99!).  Seattle Goodwill stores all have clear, plastic tag hangers attached to the items, a bit easier to change out the colored tags.  A remedy could be to attach tags on rounded, plastic tags (like this one that was on my DVF luggage piece) that are much harder to rip out of clothing.

Another method is one taken by the Tacoma Goodwill stores with a colored, plastic marker.  This is not only a smart way to color-code the items for deals but for anti-theft management because you can’t just change out the tags you would have to change the whole attachment. Quite a determent in my eyes!

2.  Another sign of thrift theft are those missing/extra price tags you can find in pockets, the holes of dressing room walls and sometimes stuffed behind/underneath anything.

No matter how the thieves reduce or steal their wares, it all is a reduction to the benefactors of the organizations, and ultimately a reduction to our society!

Let’s encourage a prosperous thrift-shopping system for many years and do our part by deterring thrift theft!

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Just in time!

For the last couple of weeks I’ve been planning a weekend full of MLK events @ bookstores, the Seattle Center and the BIG RALLY @ Garfield High school on Monday.  And in these weeks I’ve compiled all the necessary elements of the project… color signs for our board, pictures of MLK, colored pens, tape, balloons, photo releases, Polaroid & film (I LOVE ME some Polaroids!) but the one thing I had yet to buy (and that I HAD to buy @ the Goodwill) was velcro.

Velcro.  Odd necessity, but TOTALLY necessary to keep our posters, pictures and quotes on our presentation board.  Great… how am I going to find this?  I’ve been to a couple of stores already rummaging through their “arts and crafts” sections looking for it.  I even rummaged through our office and my home last night just in case I had some random velcro lying around.  (I mean who actually has a random roll of velcro lying around their house anyways?)

But NONE was to be found.  😦

So I started to explore other possibilities on how paper would stick to a material board…

I tried tapping the items on the board just to see if that would work… NOPE, they fell off immediately.

I brought in safety pins and sewing pins to see if we could “pin” the items on the board.  This was a little better but NOPE, they ended up falling off in a couple of minutes.

I contemplated asking my co-worker, my co-conspirator on the project to bring some?  Maybe… as a last resort but I DID sign up for this responsibility.  So darn it, I’m going to exhaust every last option of Goodwill stores before I beg!

So today after work I decided to try the last Goodwill I could get to before the first event tonight @ 7pm… the main Seattle store.

I quickly walked in with a pit in my stomach of nervous anxiety starting to stir.  Yep, I was actually starting to get sick over VELCRO?!  This is sad.

My feet maneuvered quickly through the Friday night shopping crowds like a master-motorcycle-rider weaving in and out of the cones on a high-speed course.  A course with the destination of the crafts area of the store.

VRrrrooommmm,VRrrrooommmm, VRrrrooommmm!  Watch out people!  This maniac’s on a MISSION here!

I approach the area and the pit in my stomach






I see nothing at first glance that even remotely looks like velcro.

I start picking through all the piles of army-green yarn, miscellaneous sewing patterns…then I spot something.  Could that possibly be?  Is that a small packet of sticky-backed velcro?

NO WAY!    YESSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

When my co-worker reads this post she is going to laugh.  But we will have something to talk about at all the events this weekend for sure!

Have a GREAT Martin Luther King Jr. weekend thrift-public!  And remember… it’s a DAY ON instead of a DAY OFF!  So find a place to volunteer or celebrate the wonderfully awesome work of this public leader.  He represented all of our struggles in one way or another and we are ALL the better for his existence!  (and Gandhi, and the Dali Lama, and Buddha, and Jesus, and Mohammed, and Moses, and Mother Teresa, and the Universe and our lives! and…. and…. and!)

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In all my years of thrifting (25+ which I know ages me but oh, well!) I’ve had the pleasure to witness, know and mimic some ICONIC thrift-stylists. Classic people that personified the fashionable-beauty of discount wardrobes like (one of my first idols) Molly Ringwald or Ducky Dale in “Pretty in Pinkor the whole Grunge thing in the Seattle 1990’s with Victoria Secret models like Jill Goodacre showing up with ripped, vintage jeans & logger shirts to premier events.

All of this push towards discount/thrift store “hunting” eventually led into the early millennium environmental movement with the emerging of REfashion/DIY/UPcycled wardrobes and major fashion lines like Project Alabama and FAV websites of mine…

Then came the recent observation from a good friend that my current thrift-layered-style (you know… jeans with a dress overlay and a button-down shirt, cardigan then accessorize with stacked bracelets and topping it all off with a CHERRY scarf!) looks like Uma Thurman’s character in the movie “Motherhood” (which I then rented on Netflix and let me tell you Uma got it right with the intensities of parenting in modern American society! Check it out!)

Yep, I’ve lived through one of the most DEFINING periods of history for thrift fashion and I have LOVED every bit of it!

So now I’d like to know who YOU idolized, mimicked or know in your local area that personifies the thrift STYLE?

I’ve been slowly adding links to websites and blogs that show some of our online thrift community on the right but I know the best resources are the ones you know so PLEASE SHARE! Let me not only share my year, my challenge, my personal thrifting life with you but let me help all of us discover more of our current or future THRIFTSPIRATIONS!


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Last weekend @ the Bellevue Goodwill store I tried to use a Goodwill gift card my mother gave me (an incentive to start my blog & year of Living the Goodwill Life) but I found out that I could NOT use it at the Seattle stores?! Apparently, there are TWO main Goodwill divisions here in Western Washington… one based in Seattle, and one based in Tacoma, and the card was from the later.

Bummer! A little set-back needless to say. So Sunday we went to the closest Tacoma-based Goodwill store to Seattle… the Federal Way Goodwill.

I have visited about 70% of all the Goodwill stores in Western Washington, Seattle or Tacoma-based & can tell the difference between them immediately. The Seattle stores are in a variety of store-fronts, not specific to size, environment, etc. whereas the Tacoma stores are usually in a smaller but newer building. Tacoma stores are set up specifically inside with a jewelry/antique/finer items area in glass cases around the registers in the front, the Seattle-based stores are not. The Tacoma tags are white in color and have their “sale colored tags” differentiated by the color of the plastic marker that is driven through the clothes with the price-tag attached. The Seattle stores actually have different colored price tags.

Anyways… I had not been to the Federal Way store in awhile, so it was a pleasant Sunday drive/trip.

The adventure did reward us with a MUCH NEEDED newer pair of baby jammies since any parent will tell you that children outgrow things like crazy and jammies are FIRST on our baby-list right now!

I also scored a brand-new 18k gold (overlaid on sterling silver) necklace for $6.00! Not only will this new find go into my growing pile of refashioned jewelry (as you can see by the finished, black, refashioned necklace besides it) but with the price of gold now I’m quite sure that I just scored MORE than $6 worth of it!

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