Living Frugal: Shopping at the Goodwill

Getting started in

Clothes and shoes are my weakness. Which is funny because I wear a lot of sweats these days. Clothing was another area of our budget that needed to be trimmed down. I’ll admit: I am a jeans snob. I like nice designer jeans, so I was afraid we wouldn’t be able to trim the clothing budget as much as we’d like. Surprisingly, this was really easy to do. Goodwill is based here in San Francisco. We are really lucky to have all the divisions available to us. If you are new to Goodwill shopping, let me explain.

There are four different types of Goodwill stores. You have the Boutique, the General Store, General Store Pop-Ups, and the As-Is Store. Literally, something for everyone! Here’s the breakdown of Goodwill stores.

Goodwill Boutique: These are the upscale Goodwill stores where they sell the designer brands. Most of the items in the Boutique stores are high end. Gucci, Geoffrey Bean, Ann Taylor, Saks, Ferragamo, and Armani are just some of the brands that make their appearance at the Goodwill boutiques. Most of these items still have tags on them. This is also a great place to find really nice suiting for men and women. I get all my jeans here.

General Stores: This is where you can find just about everything you need. They usually have large selections of clothing, textiles, furniture, household items, and books. You can even find electronics at most locations. The stores are usually very full and unorganized making it a little hard to find the great deals. These stores have their own websites for each location. Check your specific locations calendar. They often have coupons for you to use!

General Store Pop-Up Locations: These are general stores that literally “pop-up” in locations for a temporary time period. Usually they occupy space for about 6 months. So if you have a favorite pop-up locations, don’t get too attached!

As-Is Store: If you live near San Francisco then you’re in luck. Just one block from the Flagship Goodwill store at Mission and South Van Ness, you will find the As-Is store. This is where all the overstock clothing goes. They also have auctions once a day for huge storage containers full of miscellaneous “surprise” items. Auctions start at $5 a storage bin. You can literally walk away with a car load of stuff for $5. This store is not for everyone for a couple of reasons. It’s not a family friendly store. You have to dig through piles and piles of items and people can be a little aggressive in their search. Because the prices are ridiculously low, $1-$2 max, you’re also going to have all walks of life digging elbow to elbow with you. Plan ahead and leave the kids at home.

Here is what I got at Goodwill stores recently. I got 26 items for $130. Mind you, $56 of that was for one pair of designer jeans.

My daughter (13 items)

  • Old Navy Down Jacket
  • Gap Pea Coat
  • Old Navy Hooded Sweater
  • 3 Old Navy Jeans
  • 2 Gap Jeans
  • Gap Gingham Pants
  • Gap Shirt
  • Gymboree Shirt
  • 2 Books

My husband (6 items)

  • (2) Banana Republic Dress Shirt
  • (2) J Crew Dress Shirt
  • Polo Dress Shirt
  • Calvin Klein Dress Shirt

Me (7 items)

  • Gap Sweater (with tags)
  • J Crew Sweater (with tags)
  • INC Sweater
  • Express Dress Shirt (with tags)
  • 7 Jeans (with tags)
  • The North Face Fleece Vest (I got this for $2 at the As-Is Store)
  • J Crew Bathing Suit (brand new with tags)

Do you have a favorite “thrift” store in your area? What “frugal” finds have you found in the past? Let us know, we’d love to share!

About Frugal Day

Frugal Day is a place to share the ideas, coupons, and deals that make it easy to live and shop responsibly. I love to save, and I believe that …

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