goodwill stores

The Different Types of Goodwill Stores (And What You Can Find at Each One)

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There are different types of Goodwill stores, and each one offers a unique shopping experience. Here is a look at what Goodwill is and the different types of Goodwill stores and what you can find at each one.

What is Goodwill?

Goodwill Industries International Inc., often known just as “Goodwill”, is a nonprofit 501 organization thrift store chain that sells donated items in order to generate revenue for their social programs. Their social programs provide job training, employment placement services, and other community-based programs for people who have barriers to their employment. 

Goodwill Retail Stores

The first type of Goodwill store is an original Goodwill Retail Store. These stores accept donations of items that are supposed to be in good condition. You can find a variety of items at these stores, including clothes, shoes, housewares, and more.

Unfortunately, I personally find the items at my local Goodwill store to be overpriced and not always in the best condition. But I am not a frequent shopper there, so I’ll give them and other stores the benefit of the doubt that they may offer a better supply of items at affordable prices. 

After items at Goodwill Retail Stores have been for sale awhile and not sold, they are usually shipped off to a Goodwill Outlet Store that we will discuss next. 

Goodwill Donations Are Tax Deductible

I personally like to donate my clothing and unused items to charities that give the clothes and items away for free to those in need instead of Goodwill marking the prices up too high that no one can afford. But that being said, if I’m in a hurry to get rid of stuff, it is convenient to drop off items at my local Goodwill store.

goodwill donations

My local store has a drive-up area in the back of their retail store. When you drive over the signal bell hose, someone usually comes out quickly with a cart to haul your items back inside. I always ask for a receipt to claim on my income taxes. They always leave the amount empty for you to fill in the amount yourself. 

According to the IRS, to claim a deduction of $250 or more, you must have a written acknowledgement from the qualified organization, which is Goodwill in this case. If the deduction is over $500, you must complete Form 8283 to your return. There are several guides online outlining estimated donation values of your items, but it’s best to have your accountant review before filing. 

Goodwill Outlet Stores

The next type of Goodwill store is the Goodwill Outlet Store, also known as “Goodwill Pay By The Pound Store”,  “Goodwill Weigh & Pay Store”, “Goodwill Clearance Store”, or “Goodwill Bin Store”. These stores are typically larger than other Goodwill stores and similar to bin stores in that the items are not sorted and usually just dumped into large blue bins for customers to dig through. 

Heart of Texas Goodwill Outlet Locations

Image Source: Heart of Texas Goodwill Industries, Inc.

You can find a variety of items at these stores, including clothes, shoes, housewares, and more. Goodwill Outlet Stores sell items by the pound, but each location has a different pricing model. Here are some example prices:

goodwill outlet pricing

Goodwill Outlet in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, charges $1.49 per pound for general merchandise, books are 25¢ (hardcovers 50¢), and furniture is priced as marked. 

Goodwill Outlet Stores are a favorite sourcing location for resellers who buy the items to resell online. Therefore you may be competing with other thrifters and pickers who are rummaging through the bins looking for hidden treasures. 

Tips for Shopping at Goodwill Outlets

Here are some tips to make your experience shopping at a Goodwill Outlet store even better:

  1. Wear gloves – Some stores require this, but it’s also for your safety. 
  2. BYOB – Bring your own reusable shopping bags or totes as Goodwill Outlets do not provide plastic bags. 
  3. Inspect items – Make sure what you are buying works or has all it parts as all sales are final. 

If the items do not sell at the Goodwill Outlet Stores, they are usually recycled or auctioned off.  

Goodwill Boutique Stores

The last type of Goodwill store is the Goodwill Boutique Store, although some of them don’t use the word “Goodwill” in their store name as it may deter affluent shoppers. Goodwill’s Déjá Blue Boutique in Las Vegas simply goes by “Déjá Blue” and features products from Nike, Michael Kors, Coach, Tory Burch and other designer brands.

Goodwill boutique stores are typically smaller than retail and outlet stores and sell items that are higher-end in terms of quality and condition. Think thrifted luxury items.  

Goodwill boutique at the beach

I don’t personally live near a Goodwill Boutique, so my friend, Lisa, wrote up the synopsis for her experience. 

“Prada, Burberry, Chanel, oh my. These are top designer names that fetch big bucks for their products. But now, thanks to a new initiative by Goodwill (yes, I said Goodwill) you can often find these luxury goods for dirt-cheap prices at Goodwill Designer Boutiques.

Goodwill Industries International now has about 60 of these upscale Goodwill Designer Boutiques across the country and the number is growing. These stores tend to be in slightly more affluent communities and carry high-quality designer clothing and luxury home goods that are both new and used.

And these aren’t your old-style Goodwill stores. They have a more more retail feel (think Urban Outfitters and Anthropologie), window displays that rival for-profit shops and layouts that are hip, pleasant, clean and inviting.

The move by Goodwill is great news for savvy bargain hunters who want higher-end hand-me-downs at cheap-chic prices. It wouldn’t be uncommon to find Stuart Weitzman pumps that go for $350 at an upscale department store for around $14 and 7 For All Mankind women’s jeans for $20. New at a department store, those jeans would probably cost around $200.

A few months ago, I scored a set of yellow four Le Creuset plates and four large bowls in the box for $30. I’m a Le Creuset fanatic and know that a single plate costs $29 at Sur La Table.

In recent years, Goodwill has been facing stiffer competition from for-profit thrift stores like Buffalo Exchange as well as websites that let people sell used designer clothing and auction sites like eBay. The Goodwill Boutiques help the non-profit company bring in more money, which in turn, allows it to provide more services to people who have difficulty getting jobs because of disabilities, drug addiction, criminal records and other employment barriers.

In addition to donations from individuals to the local Goodwill that are sent out to the Boutiques , some boutiques have relationships where local stores will donate “salvaged” goods. That means there is often a slight imperfection (like a ding in the foot of a chair or a missing button on a blouse) that doesn’t really affect the quality, but also doesn’t allow retailers to sell it as new. These retailers will also donate overstock or last season’s products to the Goodwill Boutiques.

Several of the Goodwill Boutiques in my area get regular donations from store including Target, Ikea, Levi’s Williams-Sonoma, Macy’s and others. Because there are new items coming in several days a week, going often increases your chances of finding a great bargain. If you see something you like buy it immediately. I’ve had two experiences where I waffled about a purchase, then returned to the store just hours later to find it was snapped up by another shopper.

But not everything in the boutiques are designer per se. There is still typical thrift store stuff (vases, used electronics, regular brand clothing, jewelry, etc.) mixed in. You do have to do some hunting – but that’s also part of the bargain thrill.”

Shop Goodwill Online

In addition to the different types of Goodwill stores, you can also shop online at ShopGoodwill.com, the official online marketplace for Goodwill thrift stores. But keep in mind that not all Goodwill stores participate. Some Goodwill stores may have their own website where they sell items exclusively. Some stores sell on eBay and other reseller platforms. Some sell on multiple platforms, and others sell only on the official website. 

Goodwill Stores FAQs

Here are some frequently asked questions about Goodwill stores.

Where can I find a Goodwill store near me?

You can use the Goodwill Store Locator to find a Goodwill store near you.

What are the hours of operation for Goodwill stores?

The hours of operation for Goodwill stores vary by location. You can also use the Goodwill Store Locator to find the hours of operation for a specific store.

How much do items cost at Goodwill stores?

The prices of items at Goodwill stores vary by location. Google the location of the Goodwill store you are inquiring about to see if they have a personal website or Facebook page that lists their prices.

What types of items can I find at Goodwill stores?

You can find a variety of items at Goodwill stores, including clothes, shoes, housewares, and more.

What is the best day to go to Goodwill?

The best day to go to Goodwill varies by location and depends on when new stuff is set out and/or prices are marked down. You may simply want to ask your local Goodwill store what days new items are set out and if they mark down items on certain days.

Is Goodwill owned by Walmart?

No, Goodwill is not owned by Walmart. Goodwill is a nonprofit organization that operates thrift stores.

What items can be dropped off at Goodwill as donations?

You can drop off a variety of items at Goodwill, including clothes, shoes, housewares, and more as long as it’s in good condition.

What items does Goodwill not accept as donations?

Goodwill does not accept items that are broken, damaged, or stained. Goodwill also does not accept certain items, such as mattresses, car seats, and large appliances. For a complete list of items that Goodwill does not accept, please visit their website.

How many Goodwill locations are there?

Goodwill has more than 3,000 locations in the United States and Canada.

How much does the CEO of Goodwill make?

While some websites claim the CEO of Goodwill makes $2.3 million dollars per year, that appears to just a rumor and untrue. Most publications report that the Goodwill CEO makes six-figures and definitely under $1 million dollars per year.

Who is the founder of Goodwill?

The Reverend Edgar J. Helms founded Goodwill in 1902. Source: Wikipedia

What’s the difference between Goodwill and Goodwill outlet?

The main difference between Goodwill and Goodwill outlet is that Goodwill sells items at set prices while Goodwill outlet sell items by the pound. Goodwill also accepts donations while Goodwill outlet does not.

Does Goodwill throw stuff away?

No, Goodwill does not throw away any of the items that are donated to them. If an item is not sellable, Goodwill will recycle it or donate it to another organization.

What percentage of money from Goodwill goes to charity?

Eighty percent of the money from Goodwill goes to their charity programs.

Does Goodwill hire disable people?

Yes, Goodwill hires disable people. In fact, Goodwill’s mission is to help people with disabilities or other barriers to employment find jobs and lead independent lives.

Conclusion

There are a variety of Goodwill stores to choose from, and each one offers a unique shopping experience. Whether you are looking for a bargain or for items in good condition, there is a Goodwill store that is right for you.