Good people doing good at Goodwill

By Kimberly Harsch, Resource Development Coordinator

Last Saturday I was fortunate to be part of Goodwill’s first book sorting volunteer day in partnership with Read Early. Read Often. (RERO). Our goal was to get 500 gently used books in the hands of disadvantaged grade school children in Muskegon County. I was not prepared for the generous events that would unfold.

Goodwill President and CEO Jeanette Hoyer wants to help improve literacy rates for kids in our community where less than 40% of students reach adequate literacy level by third grade. Literacy directly affects education. And education is a pipeline to high wages, and a powerful tool in the fight to end poverty. Literacy improves when kids have books. And Goodwill has plenty to give.

We quickly found a strong partner in Allison Keessen at RERO who when asked if she could use free books responded, “Boy could we ever!”

We knew we needed to inspect, clean, and sort the books first. This takes manpower. RERO recruited 28 volunteers made up of high school students from “Reading Buddies United” which is comprised of area high school students from four schools: Orchard View, Oakridge, Mona Shores, and Muskegon. There were also volunteers from Rotary Interact, Pathfinders of Muskegon, and United Way of the Lakeshore.

On the day of book sorting at Goodwill’s headquarters in Muskegon, the positive energy was everywhere. Volunteers laughed, danced, and did the work while learning more about each other. Every once in an “Oh! I LOVED this book!” arose above the chatter and volunteers would rush to celebrate the title.

Two hours flew by in a flash. As we were packing up, I heard some of the kids talk about books that THEY were taking for their communities. Some were for book drives at school or for reading to grade schoolers. Nefertoria from Pathfinders of Muskegon took nearly 200 books to deliver on the streets. “I fill my trunk and when I open it, kids come running for books,” she said.

As we closed our first day together, Allison did a final book tally … 1,333 books were ready to go! These will be distributed wherever kids need them. Jeanette closed the day with a warm “thank you” for this group of generous people who truly are helping us “Change lives through the power of [their] work.”

If you would like to volunteer, or have locations that could use books for children contact Kim Harsch of Goodwill at (231) 722-7871, x1057.

For more information visit our website!

32 Goodwill Outlet FAQs and shopping tips

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By Nanci Penland, Goodwill Outlet and Store Manager

The wait is finally over! Our new outlet store in Muskegon is open for business.

Rolling up your sleeves and sifting through unsorted textiles and wares isn’t for everyone, but avid thrifters LOVE discovering hidden gems and the low, low price.

IMG_7369.jpgIf you’ve never visited a Goodwill outlet, you are in for an experience. Serving as a “last chance” clearinghouse for our donated goods, items are placed unsorted in large bins and sold by the pound. The bins are rotated with fresh content throughout the day.

If outlet shopping isn’t your cup of tea, visit our regular retail store right next door in the same building!20191113_141234.jpg

Goodwill Outlet Shopping Tips

  • Bring bags or boxes to transport your purchases home.
  • Wear sturdy gloves when sorting through merchandise due to potential sharp objects.
  • For your safety, when merchandise bins are rolled onto the sales floor, please move out of the way. Please stand back until a Goodwill team member indicates “okay to shop” before approaching the bins.
  • The outlet is strictly “cash and carry” meaning we cannot hold or set aside your items. If shopping for furniture or other large items, please make sure you have a vehicle that can transport your purchases at the time of sale.
  • Monitor your cart and personal belongings! You are responsible for safeguarding.
  • Test electronics in designated areas.
  • Bring batteries to test toys and measuring tape if purchasing furniture.
  • Be patient and be courteous to fellow shoppers.
  • If bringing children, please do not leave them unsupervised; they must be accompanied by an adult.
  • If you plan on visiting our regular store afterwards (located next door!), please take your purchased items to your car first.
  • Clean your treasures when you get home. Wash what you can in hot water and use disinfectant wipes on toys, books, and other items. Rent a steam cleaner at your local hardware store to deep clean soft furniture.

20191113_155344Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Goodwill outlet?
The Goodwill outlet serves as a last-chance clearinghouse for items that did not sell at our 17 Goodwill Industries of West Michigan stores after a four-week period of time on the shelf. Wonderful bargains can be found!

How is the outlet different from a traditional Goodwill store?
Visiting a Goodwill outlet is a very different experience from shopping a regular store. Items are not sorted, hung, or organized but rather offered on large rolling tables for shoppers to sift through. Items are sold priced by the pound at a deep discount. Furniture and oversized items are individually priced. It’s the perfect experience for the bargain hunter who likes to roll up their sleeves.

How does the outlet operate?
Unsorted clothing and other merchandise are put on rolling tables and rotated on and off the sales floor throughout the day offering continuous fresh selections. Shoppers place items in a shopping cart that is then weighed on a floor scale.

What is the pricing?
Clothes, shoes, toys, electronics, glassware, and household goods are sold at $1.29 per pound. Furniture and other oversized items are priced individually.

What happens to merchandise not sold at the outlet?
Items not sold during their time on the sales floor are then responsibly recycled or sold to a recycling partner.

Is the merchandise sorted?
No. Items are heaped unsorted onto rolling carts.

How do my items get weighed?
Shoppers place their cart onto a floor scale and the weight of the cart is subtracted.

Does the outlet supply bags for purchased items?
Goodwill does provide some boxes but we encourage shoppers to bring their own bags.

What payment methods are allowed?
Cash or credit cards are accepted; checks are not.

Can I return items purchase at the outlet?
All items are sold as-is and there are no returns.

Do you accept donations at the outlet?
Not in the outlet itself, but there is a convenient donation drive-thru in the same building.

Are Goodwill vouchers accepted?
No

Where is the outlet located?
1501 East Apple Avenue in Muskegon Township right next to US-31

What are the days/hours of operation?
The outlet is open Tuesdays through Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

For more information visit our website!

Bring Good Home

By Liz Witzler, Marketing Director

Last Thursday, Goodwill Industries and the Ad Council launched an exciting new national campaign, “Bring Good Home,” to inspire more people to shop at Goodwill. Using humor, the cleverly crafted public service announcements illustrate how shopping at a Goodwill directly affects YOUR community by supporting our local job training and employment programs.

A lot of people don’t realize that Goodwill is made up of 161 independent local organizations across North America (with a presence in 13 other countries as well) that are all members of Goodwill Industries International. There are ten separate Goodwill organizations in Michigan alone. We are divided up geographically into designated territories … ours being West Michigan with 16 stores along the lakeshore from Manistee down to Holland. We have our own separate finances, board of directors, etc. and our programs and services vary depending on the needs of our respective communities. Bottom line is, that when you spend your dollars at your local Goodwill store those funds STAY local.

We are a charitable organization that largely funds its own mission through the sale of items that are generously donated from the community. The PSAs, created pro bono by global advertising and marketing agency Digitas, showcase the variety of unique finds available at Goodwill stores and celebrate YOU the shopper.

The campaign’s TV spot depicts Goodwill shoppers as “local heroes” by showing an entire town rallying around one indecisive shopper, encouraging her to make the purchase and erupting in celebration once she does.

The spot ends with, “When you bring home a Goodwill find, you give your whole town a reason to celebrate … because you’re also funding local job training and placement programs in tech, healthcare, and more.”

The new PSA video can be viewed here.

For more information about the programs and services Goodwill Industries of West Michigan offers, visit www.goodwillwm.org

#BringGoodHome

Making the most of your summer

How do you know when you’re doing summer right? Simple. When you’re spending as much time outside every day as possible and saving money on your summertime essentials. If you live in a place that celebrates all four seasons, there’s just something so special about the summer. We shiver through winter dreaming of sunlit afternoons lounging on the lawn, so we owe it to ourselves to take full advantage of these radiant days.

Image from Goodwilltips.blogspot.com

Here at Goodwill®, we would love to help you make the most of your summer. Let’s start with attire, shall we? For some women, summer means dressing in less to keep cool, but feeling uncomfortable doing so. Don’t feel discouraged, ladies! It isn’t just you. The truth is that most women have some insecurities once their summer skin starts to show. But every body type has a flattering fit; it’s finding it that can be the challenge. Happily, Goodwill Industries of Michiana (South Bend, IN) has done the work for you – at least where shorts are concerned. Check out their recent post on finding the best shorts for your body type, and embrace those summertime vibes!

Image from Goodwillakron.org

Now that you’ve pinned down a summer clothing solution and you’re feeling a little more comfortable, let’s head outside! Of course, hitting the beach, hiking and biking are all viable options for August activities, but let’s not underestimate the relaxing qualities of gardening in your own backyard! Goodwill Industries of Akron (OH) nailed it with this post that shares four ways to repurpose thrifted items into planters. Our favorite is the bundt-pan-turned-floral-centerpiece. The umbrella post goes right through the center of the pan to hold it in place – Brilliant!

Other by Indianapolis Furniture & Accessories Upholstery Club’s Shelly Leer. Image from Houzz.com.

But why step inside after the sun goes down? You don’t have to if you follow this DIY tutorial from Houzz.com. With a quick trip to your local Goodwill and a hardware store, you can put together a dreamy solar-powered table lamp like this and enjoy summer breezes well into the night.

While you’re browsing your local Goodwill in search of the perfect shorts, planters or lamps, keep in mind that it is just one of 164 independent, community-based Goodwill agencies in the United States and Canada that provide employment training, job placement services and other community-based services to 9.8 million people annually. Your purchases are making that mission possible! Enjoy saving money and making the most of your summer. We still have more than a month to go!

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.