Rainy Day Goodwill Haul + Thrift Tips

Happy spring! April showers might bring May flowers…but, in my world, rainy days also bring some fantastic Goodwill finds. When it’s pouring outside, one thing that always cheers me up is grabbing a cup of coffee, meeting a friend, then seeing what sunshine we can find inside my favorite thrift store.  Here’s a look at my latest spring-inspired haul along with some thrift shopping tips that will keep you from leaving the store disappointed.

Tip #1: Shop during or after a storm (as long as it’s safe to go out)! When the weather is rough, but stores are still open, staff is able to work swiftly to sort through donations and get them on the floor because they have fewer customers to assist. And because all the other shoppers are hunkering down at home, you get the pick of the litter as soon as new items hit the shelves! With so many rainy days in the spring, now’s the perfect time to take advantage of this tip. Go to Goodwill on a torrentially rainy day (not just light drizzles) for the best selection and least competition. Don’t worry if you forgot your umbrella! During my thrift haul today I found this classic umbrella that just had to come home with me. Its wooden handle makes it feel a little more special than a regular plastic one. Your local Goodwill might have some unique rain gear, too!

Tip #2: If you love something, buy it! Don’t talk yourself out of it just because you didn’t go shopping with that specific item in mind. Most seasoned thrift shoppers have a story or two about stumbling upon their favorite find at an unexpected time. That’s why I didn’t even hesitate when I saw this blazer. It’s not what I came in for, but blazers are so expensive brand-new that when I saw this one, I instantly tried it on. It’s perfect for my 9-5 job and it’s a fun layer to go over summer dresses so they can work for spring! I couldn’t even wait to get to the dressing room to make sure it fit.

Tip #3: When in doubt, put it in your cart. You can always put it back on the shelf if you change your mind before you leave the store. I was on the fence about these running pants at first, but I put them in my cart while I poked around the rest of the store anyway. Sometimes when I do this, I reassess at the end of the trip and feel comfortable leaving the item behind. But when I was done browsing this morning, I checked in with myself about these pants and felt confident that they were a great choice. At only $9 for brand-new, comfy jogging pants, they are just the motivation I needed to get moving with a new exercise routine this spring. Good thing I put them in my cart when I did—they were the only pair in my size!

Tip #4: Bring a sewing tape measure and know the sizes/colors of specific things you need. One item I had been searching for was a basket or bin that could fit into an empty nook in my bedroom for craft supply storage. When I have specific needs like this I make sure to keep measurements of the space I have to fill on my phone. I also bring along a sewing tape measure (it rolls up so tiny!) so I can check to see if items are the correct size right there in the store. You may also want to bring color swatches or pictures of a certain things you’re trying to match. If you shop prepared then you’ll never take something home that doesn’t fit or leave something behind that could have.

Tip #5: Shop in the middle of the week. Not only will the store be less crowded, but that also means that the good stuff hasn’t been snagged by someone else. This Goodwill haul adventure I’m sharing today took place on a Wednesday so I had plenty of time and space to browse around. Wandering along, I was shocked when I noticed this Soma water pitcher peeking out at me from the top shelf in the kitchen section. I have had this same exact pitcher on my Amazon wish list for months and here it was waiting for me at Goodwill for only $2 (it retails for $40). Would it still be there if I waited until Saturday to shop? Probably not!

Tip #6: Donate something every time you go. Not only does this keep your home from becoming too cluttered, it’s also good thrifting karma to give as you get. I’ve been looking for a colorful, light-weight bag to add to my wardrobe for a while and I feel like this one might have been waiting for me as a reward this time for clearing out some old bags on my last visit. I love the unique clasp and bright colors. It’s so perfect for spring!

Tip #7: Learn the discounts. What day of the week do things get marked down at your local Goodwill? What’s the color of the week? Do seniors or veterans receive a discount? These are quick questions to ask staff that can help you save money. Some Goodwill stores even offer you a discount coupon when you make a donation! Keeping the color of the week in mind, I was able to get this bright Old Navy sweater for half-off. I love the weight and fit of it. It’s so flattering and will take the edge off of cooler spring days while still feeling cheery thanks to its lively color.

Tip #8: Check the return racks outside of the dressing rooms. These racks are filled with items that have caught the eye of other shoppers so they’re always stuffed with great pieces. It’s almost like someone has pre-shopped for you, selecting the cutest of the cute to try on. When clothes don’t fit just right or the color doesn’t work for the other shopper the way they had hoped, where does it go? On the return rack! Fantastic finds like this flowy Lauren Conrad blouse will often be hiding there so don’t pass it by. I really think this might be my new favorite shirt. It’s a favorite color of mine and the gold buttons make it feel so fancy!

Tip #9: Shop out of season! Years ago, I never would have dreamt I’d be buying this wooden Christmas tree in March, but I’ve since learned the merit of shopping out of season. So even though it’s springtime now and I’ve got pastels and picnics on the brain, I couldn’t pass by this perfect little tree with its rustic charm. How cozy will this look in December nestled amongst evergreen boughs with stockings hung nearby?

So that’s my latest thrift haul! I’m so in love with all of my finds and even more impressed with Goodwill’s commitment to sustainability. Shopping secondhand, reusing items and do-it-yourself projects are all a great way to live a more sustainable lifestyle. It’s also more fun to find something unique at a Goodwill store and give it a second life.

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What’s your sweetest Goodwill find?

by Rachael Kaminski, Internet Marketing and Events Coordinator

With today being Valentine’s Day, I wanted to share a little love for Goodwill. I’ve been a Goodwill shopper for quite some time now. My mom would take me shopping at the Grand Haven Goodwill store to pick out formal dresses for all my high school dances. She would spend months hand sewing thousands of beads onto the dress to make it one of a kind, unique, and absolutely perfect. My mother was quite the seamstress. She would take a bland dress and make it into work of art. I loved knowing that no one would have “my dress.” I never had to worry about having a fashion faux pas of who wore it best.

My most recent “sweetest” Goodwill find would be a mirror that I have above my mantle. I hate to pay full price for anything and with my love for crafting this was the perfect DIY project … and yes, it was project I did 100% by myself. I had to include that because DIY projects to many men means your wife coming home and saying “I saw this great idea on Pinterest,” ripping apart the house or pulling out every crafting supply and after a few hours of unsuccessfully “DIYing” calling out for help because your great idea turned into a “Pinterest fail.”

When I found this mirror, I knew it was a solid quality piece. The mirror was heavy, but the frame needed a little TLC. It looked like it had been a part of a vanity. There were four holes I filled with wall putty or spackle. Once it dried I sanded the frame down and used a chisel to chip away some of the wood to give the distressed appearance. I then painted the frame turquoise and further distressed it after it was painted. I think it turned out great!

The sweetest Goodwill find I have ever heard about was what Joyce Kinstner found 15 years ago at the Whitehall Goodwill store. She met her husband! I don’t know if there is a sweeter Goodwill find story. It just goes to show that you never know what you may find at Goodwill!

Do you have a sweetest Goodwill find you would like to share? Please post a photo of your treasure on our Facebook timeline and you’ll be entered for a chance to win a $35 Goodwill gift card! Share the love, but don’t hesitate! Today is the last day to participate in our contest. Happy Valentine’s Day!

New tax season= New options

By Carl Lewis, Tax Preparation Coordinator

Another tax season is rapidly approaching and we are gearing up to serve the community. Each year it is a challenge to serve the increasing demand, but it’s also a very rewarding experience to be a part of an effort that positively impacts so many people and families in West Michigan.

Last year, our dedicated Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) volunteers filed nearly 3,000 federal and state tax returns, and returned more than $3 million to the community!

Recruiting VITA volunteers continues to be a challenge. This year, thanks to a generous grant from the Community Foundation for Muskegon County, we were able to offer eligible college students – many studying finance or accounting – a $500 stipend each for their efforts. Thanks to some helpful collaborative professors at MCC and Baker, we were able to recruit 15 new volunteers through this initiative.

All of our tax preparers must be thoroughly trained and pass an IRS certification test. It has been a pleasure to train and share my experience with others. Knowing how to do taxes is a valuable life-long skill!

Also new this year is a “drop and go” full-service option. Filers meet with an intake specialist to deliver necessary documents and pick up their completed returns a week later. This eliminates wait time and gives volunteers more flexible work hours and an opportunity to work at their own pace.

Helping people with their taxes also presents opportunities for us to help and advise people on their overall financial wellness. Goodwill’s MoneyWorks financial services can help people achieve their financial goals, such as owning their own home or getting out of debt.

If you are interested in volunteering, please contact me at (231) 722-7871, ext.1071 clewis@goodwillwm.org

For more information on VITA, including a list of tax site locations and hours, visit www.vitawestmichigan.org

DIY Hanging Planters

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I love making one-of-a-kind gifts for my friends and family every holiday season, but if you’re like me, it’s hard to find the time to craft something completely from scratch. That’s why I love being able to repurpose thrifted goods into something that is useful and beautiful without it taking weeks to make. The hanging planters we’ll be putting together today, for example, take only a couple of hours to complete! At this rate, you’ll have everyone crossed off of your to-gift list before the first candle of Hanukkah is lit!

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Here’s what you’ll need to craft your own hanging planters:

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Supplies

  • Thrifted ceramic jars (or adjust the project for tins or glassware)
  • Thrifted belt
  • Drill
  • Ceramic tile drill bit
  • Painter’s tape
  • 4 screws that fit properly into the drilled hole
  • 4 coordinating washers
  • 4 coordinating nuts
  • 1 nail
  • Small hammer
  • Scissors
  • Pen or pencil
  • Measuring tool (a sewing tape measure works perfectly)
  • 2 plants
  • Hooks/hardware to hang the planters (if the planters won’t be hung in a stud, make sure you include wall anchors)
  • Safety mask
  • Safety goggles
  • Small piece of scrap wood

 

Step 1: After washing your thrifted ceramics, plan the placement of the holes. You’ll need two on each planter. Put a bit of painter’s tape over those areas and mark where you want the holes to be. The tape keeps the drill bit from skidding across the glaze as well as protecting the surface from small cracks the drilling could cause.

Step 2: Gently set a nail on each mark and tap it a tiny bit (so carefully) just to dent the glaze. This creates a starting point for the drill bit to bite into.

Step 3: You may want to take this one outside as there will be some dust. With your safety equipment on, carefully drill all four of your holes. If the dust is clogging up the hole, try sucking it out with a vacuum or wiping it with a damp cloth or Q-tip.

Step 4: Remove the tape and wipe the planters down. You may even want to rinse and dry them if there’s a lot of dust inside.

Step 5: Measure and cut the length you’ll need for your belt straps. Mine are each 13” long. After cutting them to size, I rounded all four ends of the straps.

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Step 6: Decide where the holes in your straps should be then mark all four of those. Place the straps, one end at a time, on the scrap wood and hammer the nail through to punch a hole. You may need to wiggle this around quite a bit to stretch it so the screw will fit through.

Step 7: Thread the screws through the straps and planters one at a time, securing them from the inside with the washer then nut. Tighten as best you can then all you need to do is add greenery!

Dangling plants like burro’s tail or ivy would look amazing in here, but to keep things festive I decided to start with clippings from my Christmas tree. This way plants can be swapped out seasonally, by style preference, or to best suit the light wherever my pal decides to install her planters. You may want to include hanging hardware with your gift to make it even easier to put up.

Photo12.jpgIf you wanted to, you could also include a note which shares the source of your supplies along with Goodwill’s mission: to generate opportunities for people to build brighter futures for themselves and their families. This way, the person who receives your gift knows that these are so much more than just planters. When you holiday shop at Goodwill stores, your gifts just keep on giving, and I can’t think of anything merrier than that.

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Find a Goodwill treasure … online

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By Brett Rockey, E-Commerce Manager

Treasure hunters are a special breed. How many of us frequent our local Goodwill store searching out hidden gems and trinkets of value? Who doesn’t love perusing the clothing racks and sifting through the infinite variety of donated items?

Did you know that you can access these treasures and great finds from the comfort of your home or phone? Shopgoodwill.com is an ever-changing online auction site of items collected from the vast inventory of donated goods from Goodwill organizations across the country, including ours (West Michigan.) Created in 1999 by Goodwill Industries of Orange County, shopgoodwill is the first online auction site to be operated by a nonprofit.

Whether you’re a serious collector or casual treasure hunter, shopgoodwill.com is the place to find that special item you’ve been looking for. Earlier this month, Lifewire ranked the auction site second-best only to eBay, and because member organizations of Goodwill Industries International are the sole sellers, buyers know the site is safe and free of fraudulent sellers.

The best part about shopping with shopgoodwill.com is that you are able to shop when it is convenient for you; not just when the store is open. Take a moment to check us out, see all of the great treasures we have available, find those unique items both local and across the nation, all while supporting Goodwill’s mission of helping people find meaningful employment.

Check out the items we have posted locally here: https://www.shopgoodwill.com/muskegon. Insider tip: If you purchase from our Goodwill you can save on shipping by picking up your items at our headquarters in Muskegon!

Recycle with Goodwill

By James Cherney, Retail Operations Director

November 15 is America Recycles Day, a nationally recognized day dedicated to promoting and celebrating recycling in the United States. It’s a great day to reflect on what more you can do to reduce your environmental impact and practice the principles of “reduce, reuse, and recycle.”

Beyond recycling plastic bottles, aluminum cans, glass, paper — and all the other personal waste produced from our daily lives — Goodwill can help you recycle a lot of other things! Founded on the business model of selling donated items, these goods are diverted from the waste stream. It’s a cycle that extends the life of usable items, while generating revenue and jobs for Goodwill’s mission-based programs.

Last year, Goodwill Industries of West Michigan reused or recycled over 9½ million pounds of donated material!

Computers/Electronics: Goodwill offers a free, easy, and environmentally responsible way to get rid of your unwanted computers, printers, flat screen monitors, TVs and more. Simply donate at any of our 16 Goodwill store and drive-thru donation centers. These items are either sold, or broken down into parts and recycled. We partner with reputable recyclers to maximize the commodity value of donated items while diverting toxic waste from our landfills. We no longer accept CRT TV or computer monitors (flatscreens are fine!). For a complete list of items we accept visit: www.goodwillwm.org/donate/what-to-donate/

Clothes/Textiles: Clothes that no longer fit, are out of style, or you simply don’t wear any more, are gratefully accepted. Items are priced, resold, and reused by someone else. And don’t throw your ripped jeans into the trash; we accept them too. Damaged, torn, or unsaleable clothing items are sorted and sold to various recyclers or salvage brokers for the greatest value.

Furniture: Downsizing, moving, remodeling can all result in unwanted furniture. Donating to Goodwill could be the perfect solution. With the advent of DIY-ing and the popularity of upcycling due to Pinterest, your shabby dresser might be reborn as shabby chic! Goodwill does offer a limited pick-up service in the Muskegon area for large items if you are unable to bring to Goodwill yourself. Please call 722-7871 to schedule.

And don’t forget, your generous donations fund our job training and employment services for people in West Michigan. We sincerely thank you!

For lots more ideas and information about recycling in your area, visit the America Recycles Day website at http://www.americarecyclesday.org

Visit donate.goodwill.org to calculate the human impact of your Goodwill® donations.

Your change changes lives

By Kim Harsch, Resource Development Coordinator

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I love my job at Goodwill because of you – Goodwill donors and shoppers. Because of you, I get to meet people whose lives are forever changed by Goodwill’s mission – to provide work opportunities, skill development, and family strengthening resources in all communities we serve.

This mission is funded in large part by your purchases and donated goods. Another way you help fund programs for people in our community, is through our “RoundUp” program. “RoundUp” means if your Goodwill store purchase is $10.50, you can opt to “round up” to an even $11.00 and that extra 50 cents goes directly to support Goodwill’s services, listed here. If you choose not to, that’s okay too and we sincerely thank you for your business!

So why do we do this? Not all of our programs and services are self-supported through our business enterprises and need a little extra help.

Your spare change adds up to thousands of dollars each year, and 100% of these funds go to help someone in your community get back on their feet. Last month your RoundUp change helped Adam move his family from dire living conditions to safety. He was able to receive the financial coaching he needed free at Goodwill so that he could afford a home for his young family. Your change changed Adam’s life. Read Adam’s story here.

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If you always RoundUp – thank you! If you haven’t, please consider it next time you shop at Goodwill. Thank you again for positively “changing” lives!