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!

Goodwill finds for fall

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By Rachael Kaminski, Goodwill Marketing Specialist

With the cooler breezes blowing in, many of us are dreaming of cozy boots, and mulled wine. Yum! Schools are in session, and Halloween is right around the corner, which makes now the perfect time to refresh your wardrobe, and deck out your home for fall. As each season arrives, it’s nice to bring in a few newly thrifted pieces to keep things current, so here’s what I’ve got my eye out for this year…

Western-inspired looks are perhaps the biggest trend to come from fall 2019.

Boot-cut jeans, Western boots, rancher hats, and oh… you can’t forget about an oversized belt buckle to complete your urban cowgirl look. Now just remember you don’t have to wear everything “Western-inspired” in one outfit. Try incorporating one or two Southwestern-inspired pieces into your fall look.

20190912_120519 (1)You’ll see plenty of animal prints this fall, but none more popular than the snake print. HuffPost is predicting “you’ll see snake print boots, belts, purses, and snake print clothes everywhere this season.” Think of it as the next neutral of your closet.

I found these pointy-toed snakeskin looking heels, perfect for the office at our Muskegon Store on Sherman Blvd., for only $4.00! Thrift score!

Here are a few of the Fall 2019 colors to look out for while shopping at Goodwill. I’m going to attempt to step out of my comfort zone, and work on incorporating more of the Autumn-Winter 2019 / 2020 color palate into my outfits. What color do you think you try?

Plaid for fall? How groundbreaking! Still, if you’re looking for a few statement pieces to dress up your fall wardrobe, I’ve spotted a variety in different colors, and patterns. From plaid jumpsuits to ponchos, this is a fall look that won’t be going anywhere anytime soon.

Now on to the decor! 

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Goodwill is my FAVORITE place to spruce up my fall decor! I love trying new to you items that won’t break the bank. From candle holders to pillows, wreaths, and faux flowers, the opportunities are endless. Check out our Pinterest boards  Thrift Store Makeover and DIY Fall Decor for some inspiration.

Want to know a little secret? Baskets, ceramics, and wooden decorations can easily be updated to match any color scheme. Whether you are wanting to incorporate the new Autumn color palate that I discussed earlier, or something more classic like black, and white, these type of decorations can all be customized with a can or two of spray paint! My whole home is different variations of teal, and turquoise even with my fall décor. So after seeing these wooden baskets, and pumpkins at Goodwill last week, I wish I would have picked them up, and spray painted them to add to my collection.

TURQUOISE FALL DECOR

Don’t have buyer’s remorse like me. Remember, if you don’t get the item it will be gone the next time to go back. That’s the beauty of Goodwill … it’s a treasure hunt, and you never know what you’ll find!

And should you find that you want to clear out some old and unused fall decorations or clothing while you’re adding in your newly thrifted pieces, remember you can donate those items to Goodwill. They will help someone find a job, strengthen our community, and preserve the planet. That ensures that while you start fresh for this new season, someone else gets to as well. Happy fall thrifting to all!

 

Three ways to upgrade your summer travel wardrobe and save at Goodwill

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Some days it can seem like saving enough money to travel is impossible. You forget to bring lunch to work or don’t have time to make it, you’ll find yourself running up a $10 bill just for a salad that has the toppings you want. This doesn’t even take into consideration the student loans and debt many people are facing as well.

Yet when it comes to travel – you don’t need to jet off to some exotic place to reap the benefits of much-needed rest and relaxation. Even just going away for a long weekend to a nearby city you’ve never been to can do the trick. If you’re worried about hotel prices, look into Airbnbs and hostels. If you’re nervous about food prices for eating out it’s worth it to stock up on breakfast and snacks before the trip, and even better if you’re able to find a place to stay that has a kitchenette. Saving in these small ways can really add up to help you pay for the absolutely necessary expenses of the trip.

So does saving on a vacation wardrobe, by shopping at your local Goodwill. By shopping the well-loved treasures at your local Goodwill store you’re not only able to pay around 90% less than retail prices – sometimes for awesome designer clothing with the tags still attached – but you’re also able to help out others in your community. Shopping at Goodwill is both a win for you and a win for others who receive financial assistance and professional training from the organization, fully funded by donations and purchases at Goodwill.

As summer swiftly approaches, there are a few items to scour the racks of your favorite Goodwill store for.

  1. Stock up on accessories to help shade the sun

 

You’ll be able to find some amazing sunglasses steals and beautiful handcrafted hats at your local Goodwill. Take advantage of these deals to shield yourself from the sun this season.

2. Check out flowy dresses and skirts to keep you cool during warmer weather

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From walking to the office to the park you’re going to need some options that can be dressed up or down, while still helping you stay cool. When looking for some of these options, focus on the material. You’ll want to stick with lighter, more breathable fabrics, such as cotton, linen, rayon and fabric blends.

3. Invest in a pair of comfy, neutral sneakers

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One of the best things you can do for your feet this summer is to help them avoid getting blisters. Whether or not you’re able to travel, a pair of neutral sneaker is the perfect way to get a few extra steps every day, because it matches your outfit and provides the ultimate comfort. A pair of white, cream or black sneakers could really help you go a long way!

Go on vacation- at Goodwill!

Feeling a bit of spring break travel FOMO? Or perhaps dreaming of a vacation that may not be in the cards on this year’s budget? I know I am. Just a few minutes on social media lately has me seriously jealous of the warmer climes. Never fear. As usual, Goodwill® has us covered. Just one trip can have you looking and feeling like an international jet setter.

Don’t believe me? It’s road-trip worthy in it’s own right. But also, thrift stores are a souvenir treasure-trove and a hub of international style and decor options. Finding a little style inspiration is all you need to make you feel like you’re counting the days until your own relaxing adventure. Just check out Instagram for lots of awesome vacay style looks you can keep in mind as you peruse the Goodwill aisles.

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Credit: @ashleerosehartley

Sometimes the swimwear section is easy to forget at Goodwill, but trust me, there are treasures there to be had as well. Often overlooked, this is a great place to find a second tankini top to match the bottoms you love or a suit in a style you’ve been dying to try out without the hefty price tag. These Goodwill finds below are proof you can bring a splash of the Caribbean to any pool party, even if it’s just sippin’ lemonade in a kiddie pool on your patio.

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I also just love finding items that somehow found their way into my local Goodwills from far-flung places. Little bits of vintage souvenir flair in the form of t-shirts, mugs or artwork makes me feel a little more connected, and give my home a little more of that jet setter vibe. It’s especially fun if it’s a place I’ve already been and have fond memories of.

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Credit: @DamnFineCoffeeMugs

Or handmade little pieces like this that give your home a little taste of distant cultures and major travel lust.

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Credit: Jenna Pfueller

Are you lucky enough to actually be headed somewhere to kick back and relax? Good on ya!

Obviously, you’ll need to make a point to visit a Goodwill when you get to your destination, too. Just search our site for locations and make a date of it. It’s a perfect way to get to know the local culture a bit more, find something you may have forgotten while packing, and of course, a perfect little something to remember your trip with so you have plenty of moolah for the ride home.

See? It’s easy to take a vacation at Goodwill. It’s a respite that’s always full of surprises, inspiration, fun, sustainability, and even creates jobs. Now that’s a true destination to embrace!

New to Thrifting? How to shop at Thrift Stores

Do you remember your first time thrifting? The nervousness, the uncertainty — the thrill? The first trip to Goodwill® is always the start of something great, but it’s been so long since I’ve been a thrift shopper that I sometimes forget that other people might not be. I mean, I’ve literally made it my mission to study thrift culture.

So when I recently heard my friend utter the words “I’ve never been to a thrift store before,” I was in shock. I knew I had to introduce her to the awesomeness of thrift life. I offered to assist with her first foray into the racks, and being the great sport she is, she agreed.

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Credit: Jenna Pfueller

Emilie has AMAZING taste, and luckily total game for a new adventure. I always love having a person to dress instead of myself, because A) my closet is full enough and B) it’s like playing Barbies I was a kid.

We chatted a bit about her favorite brands, colors and patterns, then set off in different directions to scour the racks for some goodies to try on.

She picked out a few things she liked– a striped blouse, some jeans, a few skirts in muted colors. And I picked out a few things I thought she’d at least enjoy trying out– a floral dress, a few pairs of cute pumps, a gingham ruffle dress, and a vintage leather jacket.

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Credit: Jenna Pfueller

It wasn’t until I got into the dressing room with her and laid out our items that I understood the gravity of what was happening. Emilie confessed not only has she never been to a thrift store, one of her most recent shopping trips involved a personal stylist and complimentary champagne!  She has literally NEVER owned anything that wasn’t new. This is a HUGE step for her and I am so excited to help open the door to this new, thrifty and stylish world!

Her (first!) thrift store haul included:

  • A pair of a nude heels (BRAND NEW!)
  • A pair of jeans
  • A blouse
  • A cashmere sweater dress
  • Long sleeved tee

Total = Less than $35!

Here’s a quick Q&A with our new thrifty comrade:

Here’s a quick Q&A with our new thrifty comrade:

Q: Why hadn’t you ever been to a thrift store before? Any particular reason?

Emilie: I wouldn’t say I’m a germaphobe, I just don’t like used things. I don’t check out library books. I don’t own antiques or other secondhand furniture. I’ve never bought a used car. It honestly has never been on my radar to shop at a thrift store. Weird, right? But I donate all the things to my local Goodwill.

Q: What surprised you (if anything?) on your first foray into Goodwill?

Emilie: Well, That I actually did it and enjoyed it. That you left me alone to shop and I didn’t walk back out. It was not how I imagined it to be. The vastness! I expected it to smell like my grandmother’s closet of mothballs, but it didn’t. I expected the clothing selection to be mostly 70s jumpsuits or other Halloween-appropriate attire. I saw none. I saw name brands! And clothes that appeared freshly washed (they aren’t) because I was surprised at how well cared-for mostly everything appeared. I loved listening to and talking with the employees, each one incredibly personable and hard working. Let’s be honest, it was all one great big surprise.

Q: What were you most excited about?

Emilie: Barely worn nude name brand heels! And $3 jeans, say what?! The most recent pair of jeans I purchased was $250. This single mom can get excited about that cost savings. One of my New Year’s resolutions is to Say Yes. Shopping with you was a fun and memorable experience, something I ordinarily wouldn’t have done. It’s a nice reminder to try new things because (as Daniel Tiger says), you might just like it!

Q: Show us a pic of your favorite find and tell us a little about why you liked it.

Emilie: I have never had a (cashmere!) sweater dress. I get lost in the bulk and boxiness of the cowl neck. This one offsets my booty work at the gym and the short (yikes!) length well enough to give it a try! And all the heart eyes for those shoes. Also, who says to avoid horizontal stripes now?

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Credit: @photoemilie

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