All thrift stores require a little patience and strategy but the Goodwill Outlet calls for a little extra elbow grease. You can find some serious gems digging through the bins. So where do you find them and how do you shop them? Read our tips below, tune into the podcast and watch how I shop the bins on my Instagram highlights.
The Goodwill Akron Outlet is located at 570 E. Waterloo Road in Akron, Ohio. For more information visit https://goodwillakron.org/shop/outlet-store/.
First, what are Goodwill Outlets aka “the bins?”
“The bins” are exactly that. Bins of secondhand clothing, toys, electronics, housewares, books – you name it – at incredibly discounted prices where items are sold by the pound.
Outlet stores or bins are usually the last stop before items go into the salvage stream to be recycled.
Avid thrifters, families, and clothing resellers love the bins because of their deep discounts.
How to Shop the Goodwill Outlet Like a Pro
Bring a pair of latex gloves. Sure, it’s weird to shop with gloves on but this isn’t a typical shopping experience. You’re literally digging through bins of stuff. I like to dig with one glove on and one glove off to spot quality textures like silk and cashmere.
Understand the pricing system
Most Goodwill outlets price by the pound and per item for things like furniture. Check the signs or ask the staff.
Make sure you’re dressed comfortably because this is work out! I always joke that I need a day to recover after digging at the bins.
Inventory changes daily, several times a day. The key is to go often.
Decide how much time you’re going to spend at the bins
Many shoppers will wait all day for Goodwill to rotate the bins so don’t be surprised if you see people “camping out” at the Outlet store. I like to approach the bins in two ways: some days I clear an entire afternoon to really dig and other times I give myself an hour to speed dig. I’ve been successful at finding items either way.
Bring the Bins Starter Pack: batteries, measuring tape, reusable bags, clorox wipes
Bring batteries to test toys, measurement and measuring tape if you’re buying furniture, socks and clorox wipes to try on shoes. Most bins stores don’t have fitting rooms so make sure you have measurements and sizes handy.
Inspect the clothing
Most of the items are in excellent condition, they just need a home! However, always inspect the item front to back. I like to lay the item flat and check for stains and rips. Always check the seams and turn it inside-out.
Keep your distance from others and certainly don’t bombard the staff when they rotate the bins.
Go early or late
Beat the crowds. Go early or later in the day. The bins are rotated and replenished several times a day. Most Goodwills will tell you how often the bins are rotated.
Do a final sweep
After you’ve made your rounds, circle back one final time before you leave. Some shoppers are pros at digging and flipping items over to get to the stuff that’s at the bottom to the top of the bin. When they are done flipping it all over, I circle back to find a bunch of things I couldn’t reach at the bottom!
Be inspired and keep an open mind
Since you’re going to be digging through an entire bin of stuff for that one gem, it helps to seek a little inspiration beforehand. Knowing what kinds of prints, textures, colors are popular and speak to your style will help you filter through the dozens of unwanted items in the bins. It could be as simple as browsing through Pinterest or your favorite magazine.
Check out the furniture
Often times you’ll find items that need a little TLC but it’s nothing a fresh coat of paint or new hardware can’t fix. Try your best to see the potential in some of these items. Use your phone to look things up on Pinterest.
Develop a system
Take it one bin at a time, fold the items neatly in your cart so you don’t feel overwhelmed by everything piling up. Figure out which bins are worth a beeline and which ones are worth skipping over. For example, I head to housewares and women’s clothing first. I save toys and books for last.
Ask about extra discounts
Since bin and outlet items are already deeply discounted, most places won’t allow you to apply additional coupons or discounts. However, it’s worth asking! Check to see if there are special bin days or store specials.
How to clean your purchases
Wash whatever you can in super hot water. Use Lysol and Clorox Wipes for furniture, books, toys, etc. You can rent steamers from your local hardware store to deep clean soft furniture. Click here for tips on how to clean your thrift store purchases.