Goodwill Hunting

The belated  recap of a 20-pound shopping trip

The place:

The irony of the Blue Hanger (aka the Goodwill outlet) is that there aren’t any hangers. There are no shopping bags or dressing rooms, either. It’s where used clothes go to die. It’s bargain hunters’ heaven, but also kinda like hell.
I love the smell of mothballs in the morning, but this place grossed me out a little. The first thing I noticed about my fellow shoppers was that several were donning latex gloves. This seemed comically snobby to me, but the phrase Maybe they know something I don’t ran through my head as I plunged my hands into the abysmal blue tubs.
A strong 30 percent of the garments were badly stained. All manner of undergarments were present. Strangers’ grungy pillowcases had to be pushed aside. And yet, everything smelled like an unfamiliar but clean home. I suspect that the stuff gets sprayed down with Febreeze the way grocery stores mist the produce with water. I concluded that unprotected thrifting is okay. Besides, I can’t shop anywhere without basically groping all the merchandise as part of my evaluation process.

Gloves are a good option for people who are all uptight about the possibility of finding a disembodied head.
Another thing to be ready for: many people will value the hunt more than your bubble of personal space. They will crowd in and reach over you like it’s a designer shoe sample sale. Thankfully, I didn’t have much competition for the styles I wanted there, unlike the  picked-over stores in hipster territory (Savers, anyone?)

The goods:
The outlet only sells clothing, house wares, and books. I have no idea why shoes and records are out of the picture. The three categories are separated for the most part, but all apparel is hopelessly mixed. At a regular Goodwill one must search through racks sorted by color instead of size ( a system I will never understand) , but here, one has to plough through about eight long rows of  bins to see all options. Although the heaps of baby clothes and unsanitary bedding get in the way, this disorganization made me open up to the possibility of  cute boys’ tees and men’s sweaters.

Personalized marriage clocks also available

Bargain books — because reading best-sellers from as recent as 15 years ago is uncool and promotes the atrophy of rainforests probably.

The pricing:

When you check out, your items are dumped into a basket on a scale built into the floor. You’re charged $1.29 per pound. It’s like a frozen yogurt shop, but with cotton. There is an exception to the rate if you buy particularly heavy things. I was charged a flat rate for my two pieces of luggage and hardback book.  I also used a (no longer available) Austin Perks $30 voucher that cost me $15.

The finds:

  • Floral minidress
  • ACDC tee so cool and worn-in that I forgot I hate ACDC
  • High waisted, holy grail Levi’s jeans
  • Short, silky slip covered in a strawberry print
  • Racerback tank with faded palm trees
  • Navy henley
  • Lee light grey dolman sleeve sweatshirt
  • Bright mosaic knee-length skirt
  • Brown leather tote bag
  • Cornflower blue round 60s hatbox/suitcase
  • Bank of Illinois deposit bag (aka new pencil bag)
  • Tie-dye tank top
  • Purple gym shorts
  • Black and white striped boat neck
  • 80s blazer
  • Punk-ass studded belt
  • Uncannily pristine white camisole
  • Lace doily
  • Basic blue jeans prime for customization
  • Hawaiian print/safari shirt…
  • Liz Clairborn maroon silk skirt
  • Taupe belt with gold closure shaped like a wishbone
  • Floral pearl snap western shirt
  • Black cropped leggings for yoga
  • Black leather backpack/rolling suitcase
  • Hunter green riding pants
  • Red crochet-back tunic (makes a very cute nightgown)
  • Thick-knit camel cardigan
  • Basic grey camisole
  • High waist denim shorts
  • Gap 1969 black skinny jeans
  • “Beauty” by Bobbi Brown (hardcover book)

Grand total: about $20. So go check it out when you find yourself with more time than money. The sky is the limit. The size of your closet is also the limit.


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