Tag Archives: Thrift store

Philanthropy is ALIVE!

Last week I had a reporter over at The Chronicle of Philanthropy contact me about the Living the Goodwill Life challenge/blog and my participation in Jenna’s All Thrifty States thrift store tour.

We chatted a bunch about philanthropy (since I work in the nonprofit field and I’m a HUGE volunteer!) and my own personal goals for the challenge and the larger thrift-public that exists in our country.  While most of that didn’t make it into his article… you never know who is watching your actions and it gave me an added burst of enthusiasm for our Philanthropic nation and those contributing to it’s growth!

In the midst of government cuts to fund nonprofits and the added stress of MORE needs to those same organizations, our nonprofits are keeping their heads (barely) above water and continually finding ways to help those less fortunate than the rest of us.  Thanks to Jenna and others like The Chronicle of Philanthropy for continuing to put charity at the fore-front of our everyday lives; showing us that being thrifty and buying recycled goods from nonprofit organizations is a legitimate way of life and that it can be fun, inspirational and that it leads to greater movements in our troubling times!

NATIONAL THRIFT SHOP DAY is only 7 days away!  A PERFECT time to show the rest of the country that living a frugal lifestyle that supports philanthropy is our AMERICAN WAY!

So get out and SHOP and/or DONATE on Wednesday, August 17th America!  Support your local nonprofit organization by frequenting their thrift store and in turn give back to your fellow neighbors!  Show the world again that America always has been and ALWAYS WILL BE made up of philanthropic citizens giving to those in need!

For a list of your local thrift stores go to: The Thrift Shopper



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Hello everybody!  This weekend is Seattle Goodwill’s RED TAG VALENTINES weekend and let me tell you there are TONS of deals to be had!  Just look at these beauties I picked up already!

Don’t forget to check back this weekend as we explore the Goodwill’s Lingerie section for your SWEETHEART!

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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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The cost of Thrift

This last week I had an interesting conversation with a close friend.

Does shopping at a thrift store REALLY save you any money?

True, it is hard not to walk out of a thrift store with SOMETHING since everything is so cheap!

After this conversation (of which this friend ended up leaving the Goodwill with items they needed!)

I decided to bump the blog up a notch and start breaking down what an item cost @ the Goodwill in relation to the costs at a different retail establishment.  I’ve also started a tally on my Goodwill purchases this year so I can show overall value saved (or spent?) during this challenge.

I’ve just started messing around with the format of the spreadsheet… but it could (and probably will) change a bit over the course of this year.

I’m interested in YOUR OBSERVATIONS, COMMENTS on this subject thrift-public!

Do YOU think that shopping at the thrift store saves you money? $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$

Stay tuned for more observations as Living the Goodwill Life shines the spotlight on ALL aspects of the THRIFT world!

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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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Make-Over Mama

This weekend I was so happy to have a girls-day-out with my sis and mom @ the Seattle Goodwill.  But after posting our family picture I started to realize that maybe mommy was letting herself go a bit to much (AND I have not had a hair-cut since November 2009!) so I decided to endulge a bit and get a mini make-over.

Now since I make a monthly $1K AmeriCorps stipend, a luxurious Gene Juarez day of beauty was out of the question.  So I found the next best thing… a cut, dry, style @ the Seattle Aveda Institute. (http://www.gmaveda.com)  If you have 2 hours to kill and you don’t mind instructors schooling your artist with your hair, it’s a great-cheap way to get a fabulous new do! (and who couldn’t use more money now days?!)

I had the pleasure of being styled by Akin, a very nice man who (hopefully) will be working @ a Rudy’s near you SOON!  But really, all the student-artists were really sweet to us and any little mistakes get caught by the instructors so the only draw-back is the time involved.

(Me BEFORE the cut… SCARY!)

Now since I couldn’t very well expect to just post about my little salon adventure on a Thrift blog, you KNOW I had to go get me a new accessory to show off with the new style!  Luckily I found a creamy-white Roxy knit-cap to embellish with buttons (the only accessories I have sometimes now days) and share with you.

Being a mom sometimes can get you in a “rut” for feeling sexy.  You always have wash-in-wear clothes on, you don’t wear jewelry that can injury your little one which often means little to no accessorizing and after a long-day playing on the ground, packing the tyke around, making the errands to the grocery… you only want to put sweats on and relax.  Not always the cutest look.  So it’s always a good idea to do a little something every once in a while for a Pick-Me-Up… like a cut, style and a new cap!  Especially if all three still allow you to go to Whole Foods and get a couple of items for the family menu afterwards!

(this is MUCH BETTER!)

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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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Family Haul

This Saturday was WAY to nice out to spend inside the Goodwill… but then again, maybe not.

My family (from the south Puget Sound) came up for the day to work on our Grandpa’s house but the girls had a different idea!  We were going on a THRIFT HAUL! My mother frequents all the Tacoma-based stores but had never been to the main Seattle Goodwill, so we all took an hour and went indoors…

I scored this Great, Green, GAP bag for $5.99 (a second baby bag)      

My sis scored a fabulous khaki Banana Republic skirt and mom found a NWT bunch of girl bibs for all the new little ones this year!  Unfortunately none of the items were BLUE TAG, which is the 50% off for the Seattle stores this weekend, but not every weekend you get a designer item for 1/2 off!

Afterwards they all took a ferry-ride topped off with the traditional Seattle IVARS run, so the sunlight wasn’t completely waisted.

Enjoy the rest of your weekend Thrift-public!


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Backstage Passes for a Goodwill Groupie!

That’s right thrift-public…this groupie is going BACKSTAGE!

All the action is taking place @ the main Tacoma Goodwill (www.tacomagoodwill.org) hang-out thanks to the magic of Mr. Matt and his all-star staff!

The spotlights will be showcasing all the FABULOUS work the Tacoma Goodwill is doing throughout Washington, in-part with the donations (and thrift shoppers!) to the stores.

Did you know they provide day-care services to their Milgard Center program participants?  Or that they have a cafeteria style breakfast and lunch restaurant called the Neighborhood Bistro that serves a menu made from the Goodwill Culinary Art’s Participants?  Or that they have a “Goodwill BUZZ” coffee shop serving Starbucks?!


Oh, yeah!  Culinary, Caffination, Thrift-spiration! THAT’S what I’m talking about!

I have mentioned before that I worked with Ecocycle in Boulder for my Children’s Environmental clothing line because we incorporated recycled materials into the product. Well one of my favorite things was my ability to go “behind the operations” to sort the materials, to witness all the ways our recycling industries work including were products are sold and for what reasons!  The industry still amazes me with all the emerging technologies finding new ways to reuse our products!  When I left Boulder in 2008 the newest machine in Japan was actually unstringing garments to then reuse the thread! Freaking AMAZING!
So to say that I’m totally excited to go “behind the scenes” of one of Western Washington’s greater nonprofits is an understatement!

So WHAT do YOU want to know about the Tacoma Goodwill’s operations?  What questions do you have about thrifting, UPcycled products, recycling, etc. that I can ask for you?

Let’s find out together how our good intentions manifest in the world!

*I feel so ROCKSTAR baby!*  🙂


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Which noose around your neck sir?

Okay, they are NOT nooses, scarves are an absolutely necessary accessory (boy that’s a mouthful!) for those that live above the equator during winter.  But I like punchy headlines in the morning…

So, one of the items on my list was my partner’s noose (I mean scarf) and Tuesday’s Goodwill action (yep, the one where I SCORED a DVF!) also somehow had a plethera of scarves to choose from as well.

I could have just picked them all up and brought back the ones we didn’t want, but I attempted to email a picture to my partner and ask his opinion first to save a trip back to the Goodwill for the returns. (yeah, what WAS I thinking?  I could have had an excuse to go back to the Goodwill?!  I’ll have to play that card soon since I missed this opportunity)  After a couple of suggestions from the partner’s co-workers the winner is….

The dark plaid Pendleton scarf!  (I rooted for the ultra-soft part cashmere antique Nordy’s beauty on the top right, but it was for my partner not me)

If you need some super-fab accessories for your winter wardrobe stop by the main Seattle Goodwill soon!

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