Goodwill Outlet: Tips for shopping the mothership of thrift stores


If you’ve ever passed by the Goodwill Outlet on Freedom Drive you might have been curious. The parking lot is always packed. Do those people know something you don’t? Answer: Yes.

If the deals at the Goodwill retail stores are steals, then the ones at the Goodwill Mothership are grand larceny. Here’s what you need to know.

The basics

– Items that don’t sell at the Goodwill retail stores go to the Goodwill Outlet.

– Clothes, handbags, shoes and toys are $1.39 a pound.

– Household items are 50 percent what they originally cost at the Goodwill retail store.

– The prices you see on the items are the original prices. Half will be taken off at the register.

– As with the Goodwill retail stores, proceeds go toward job training programs.




Grab a blue shopping bin and take a look around…


rolling bins

Consider gloves

The clothes in the big bins aren’t arranged by size, style or, well, anything. So you have to do a lot of digging. I’ve seen some Goodwill Outlet pros wear gloves for the digging expedition. It’s not that there’s necessarily anything unsavory on the clothes, but being up to your elbows in other people’s old garments can make you think. About gloves.

clothing 1 (1)

Don’t break a leg

But if you do, get a friend to go to the Goodwill Outlet for you. They often carry crutches. You can find them in the back of the big room with the household goods, sometimes for around $2 a pair. You can also often find walkers, and sometimes wheelchairs.



About the artwork…

As a rule, the prints and paintings are terrible. But the frames are often in great shape and might be perfect for a poster, photo or painting that you already have at home. So before you leave home, measure anything you need framed and bring your tape measure with you to the store. The largest pictures cost between $2.50 and $5.

Frames aside, you might have a spot on the wall that’s just crying out for a picture of colonial gentlemen doing card tricks.

colonial men

paintings (1)

Get ready for the game

In the back you’ll find sports equipment. No, you probably won’t find the latest and greatest, unless you’re an extremely lucky person. But there are tons of golf clubs that will set you back only a dollar or so each.

golf clubs 2 (1)

sports equipment

pull up exerciser

Find some beach reading material

There’s no cheaper place in town to buy books. Hardbacks are $1.39 and paperbacks are 99 cents. And there are a lot of them.


Equip your kitchen

The Goodwill Outlet is a great place find glasses, cups and plates (49 cents each) cutlery (29 cents each) and stemware (99 cents each.) You can also find pots and pans, as well as electrical appliances. You can plug them in at the store to make sure they turn on, but check them out carefully. You can’t return them.



View it as an adventure

Sometimes you’ll hit the jackpot and sometimes you won’t. If you don’t find anything you need, at least you’ll see something interesting. Like this Santa who has developed a bear problem.

santa with bears

Jody Mace is a freelance writer who also publishes the local website Charlotte on the Cheap. Follow Charlotte on the Cheap at@cltcheap and everything else she does at @jody_mace.


  1. Man, I wish the Goodwill corporate/outlet store here in Ft Worth was that organized. EVERYTHING goes into one of those blue bins; everything single thing. Even sharp, breakable, cloth, plastic, large item or delicate things. Everything is mixed in together. Clothes mixed in with broken porcelain Christmas statues. Knives mixed in with shoes. It’s filthy and dangerous. And there are so many rows of bins that it is impossible to go through every single bin before another row of bins comes out in 2 hours. Then you have to fight (read that literally) 10-15 other individuals who are wanting first violent grab at the new bins when they come out. We just stand back and watch the lowest denominator of human behavior in action. And the $1.39/lb isn’t a steal when a heavy blanket costs $6 and was priced at the regular stores for $4.99. Same thing with a bleacher chair stand that was labeled $2.49 in the store but is now $6 because of it’s weight. We won’t be back there again. Im not easily disgusted, offended or shocked but visiting the Ft Worth “outlet” store will give any stoic a run for their psychological money.

    • I don’t know as I have never been to this place, but as a general rule don’t most (99.99999%) places that advertise usually show you the most unbelievable photos? Like menus with pics…vaseline may have been used to make something appear lovely, shiny and moist? I’m just saying, not accusing any wrong doing at all.

  2. I agree with Sam. Have the same experiences here in the Mpls./St. Paul Goodwill corporate/outlet stores. It is not uncommon for there to be broken glass in some of these bins. Don’t know why pictures would even be placed in them? I don’t know if each corporate/outlet store has different criteria, but you’d think it would be some sort of corporate mandate, much less common sense, to not put anything that breakable in large bins that you know people are going to be sorting through, with bare hands! Definitely wear gloves. I’ve gone to my local outlet several times, but it took a while for me to figure out what worked for me. Personally, I avoid the fight-over bins, the ones that most gravitate too as soon as they come out the door. I just go non-weekend days, wear gloves and take my time.

    Another thing, tho., is there usually will be 1-2 people there who have at least two carts full of shoes or books or ? I assume they are basically dumpster diving for entire families. Not sure. They’ll hoard what they can, go off to the side, and then go thru what is in their carts item by item. Meanwhile, the rest are left with onsies/ twosies, while so-and-so has two carts full of the good stuff off to the side that they get to go through one by one. I really think that should not be allowed, but at the same time, I don’t know how you’d manage that. Other than putting up a big sign that says No Hoarding. . ., but I’m pretty sure people still would.

    Yeah, it is pretty much a free-for-all. But, if you have time and are just looking for a couple of bargains and wear gloves and avoid the mad dash for the new bins, you can find bargains. For example, I found a heavily corroded but high-end brand sterling silver set that I brought for probably $3 via weight, that once I cleaned up and priced on line was worth around $120.


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