We went hunting for thrift store treasures.  Take a look at what we found!

Goodwill is a treasure hunt with no map to mark the spot.  Instead vintage-lovers must methodically survey the shelves to discover the riches contained therein.  Goodwill is a place where bargain hunters and fashionistas alike can find common ground supporting a company with a charitable mission.  Not only are great treasures buried within, Goodwill is also a more sustainable way to support your fashion habit.

First, let’s clear up one thing:  there’s no shame in thrift store shopping.  Ever.  Whether you are wealthy or poor, there is no reason to pay up to 10 times more for an item just because it came from a store that is branded in a certain way to make one perceive its value to be more than it actually is.  Stores like Abercrombie & Fitch use sexual imagery and actually pump aromas into the store and into the area around the entrance to the store, to create a perception of wealth and beauty which somehow justifies shelling out $80 for a grey sweatshirt with “A&F” printed on it.  A grey sweatshirt?!  Really?

Not convinced Goodwill and fashion go hand-in-hand? Then you need to learn the rules of Goodwill treasure hunting.

These outfits, including shoes and handbag, cost around $50 each and are on trend for 2015. Try finding that at the mall.

These outfits, including shoes and handbag, cost around $50 each and are on trend for 2015. Try finding that at the mall.

used cocktail glasses

Collect your cocktail glasses without breaking the bank in the housewares section of Goodwill.

Rule #1:  Have Patience

Goodwill does not disclose its secrets quickly.  You might be one of those lucky few who can dart in and out instantly discovering what you need, but for most, Goodwill treasures come to those who wait.  Allow a few hours of browsing if you really want to find the good stuff.  It may not be easy, but the rush you get when you find diamonds in the rough will be worth it.

cowboy boots in Nashville

Every Nashvillian needs a good pair of boots. Goodwill is the place to find perfectly broken-in cowboy boots for kicking around or line dancing at the Wild Horse.

Rule #2:  Divide and Conquer

Explore one area of the store at a time. For home goods, do not be afraid to dig through the cluster of stuff.  That one of a kind item could be just at the back of the shelf. For clothings and accessories in particular, find your size and look through every single outfit, shoe, belt, etc…  Do not be fooled by the outward appearances, vintage gold could be buried within.

Rule #3:  Look for Labels

Especially is you shop in an affluent area, the Goodwill can be filled with name brand fashions.  From shoes, purses, clothes, furniture, and more, let the labels guide your purchase.  No one will ever know you spent lightyears less than retail on your designer handbag.  That is a secret you can treasure in your heart.

Rule #4:  Do not Hesitate

The beauty and heartbreak of Goodwill is they usually only have one of everything.  There is no worse regret than putting a beloved item back on the shelf, changing your mind, and rushing back to the store to find it gone.  Do not let the perfect addition to your closet or home decor escape you.  If you like it, buy it.

cheap kids clothes in Nashville

Buying inexpensive kids’ clothes is a great reason to shop at Goodwill.

Rule # 5:  Condition is Key

Sometimes items at Goodwill have been donated for good reason.  Look for stains, holes, missing buttons, scuff, scrapes and any flaw that would deter you from buying an item.  Look closely at an item you are considering for purchase. In the end, however, if you find something you cannot live without, throw condition to the wind and buy it anyway.



There’s More to Goodwill Than Meets the Eye

The best part of Goodwill shopping is if you fall out of love with an item, you can always donate it back to Goodwill.  Fashion finds and donations, however, are just a portion of the Goodwill appeal.  According to Jamie Berry, former press coordinator for Middle Tennessee Goodwill, people usually only think of Goodwill as a shopping and donating center.  She notes there is a very important part of their mission called The Career Solutions.  Berry calls it, “the mission arm of Goodwill.”  The cycle of charity begins with donating those items taking up space in your attic. When you donate those items to Goodwill, they are sold in the stores.  The revenue from those sales fund their mission of providing employment and training opportunities to people in the community.

ladies Boho bag red geraniums

This Boho bag is on trend. At a fraction of the cost of a department store, why shop anywhere else?

The Career Solutions work with 1500 employers who actively hire Goodwill clients.  Their 29 Career Solutions centers located throughout its 48 county territory, host more than 100 job fairs and hiring events each month, on average..  In 2013, 83% of the Goodwill Career Solutions clients who were placed in jobs outside of Goodwill. Their goal for 2014 was to assist 20,000 people in their search for work and place 6,000 in jobs. As of Oct. 31, Goodwill had assisted 25,073 people and placed 7,788 people in jobs.  The charitable portion of Goodwill offers much needed resources to people who might not otherwise have access to this help.

Sustainability at Goodwill

Besides great fashion finds and charitable work, donating and shopping at Goodwill is a more sustainable way to empty and refill your closet.  In 2013 alone, Goodwill kept 25,798, 126 pounds of salvage and recyclable materials out of landfills.  They saved 37,567 trees from being cut down, recycled 2,318,568 pounds of televisions, and recycled 4,419,654 pounds of cardboard and paper pulp. Besides these recycled materials, they also recycle clothing, shoes, purses and belts, hats, backpacks, toys, books, electronics and electrical appliances, cell phones, ink jet/toner cartridges, used batteries, metals such as steel, copper and aluminum, cardboard/paper pulp and some grades of plastic. When you donate those items to the Goodwill, you are not only cleaning out your closet, but preserving resources.

Goodwill is a place where fashion, sustainability and charity meet.  Vintage lovers can find hidden delights hidden on the racks.  Bargain hunters can look great of less. Community members can find assistance finding a new work opportunity. Once loved items are kept out of the landfill and given new life.  Goodwill is a business where eco-conscious and charitability minded customers can shop in good faith.

How to Find the Nearest Goodwill

Goodwill stores are all over Nashville, so you shouldn’t have to go very far to find one.  Check out this Goodwill Store Locator: