Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Goodwill Hunting

Confession Time!

Before I get to the confession, let me provide you with some back story:

Eric and I do not make New Year's resolutions, but we do make year "promises." Sure, they function the same way, but if when we don't follow through with our promises, we don't fall into that category of the 98% of Americans who fail to achieve their resolutions.

I'm a perfectionist.
I don't like to fail at emotionally binding things like resolutions.
I let completed checklists govern my emotions.
I have babies weeks early just to get a jump start on parenting.

This year, Eric's promise was that he is not going to buy a piece of clothing in all of 2011*.

*Fine print: Clothing that comes into his wardrobe as a gift is fine. And let's also establish that Eric is currently a sponsored Brooks ID athlete and gets tons of Brooks running swag for free. He also wear tests for Nike, so he gets not only Brooks shoes for free, but also Nike. So his promise is not as extreme as it seems.

I, for one, cannot make that promise. I'm not a shopanista, but I do like some good outlet shopping a few times a year. And Eric really hit the jackpot with me--in comparison to many of my friends and colleagues, I rarely get my haircut and have shamelessly resorted to scouring coupons for $5 natural instincts blend away gray (with mediocre results), I barely get manis/pedis, and almost never buy clothing at retail prices. I acquiesced and we no longer have cable TV. The last time I saw a movie in the theater, I think Felix was only a few months old. I'm a pretty cheap date--with lots of stubborn gray hair.

But I have wanted to be even more mindful of our spending in 2011.We DO hemorrhage money on things like groceries. And we now have a neighborhood guy cut our grass during the school year. And I finally buckled and got a house cleaner every month. And then there are the unexpected and unmodifiable expenses like pediatrician co-pays and antibiotic charges. And $70 nebulizer treatment paraphernalia we had to get. You don't want to even know how much we have in "medical" expenses since the start of 2011--and it's not like we had truly, serious, medical emergencies.

So where to trim the fat?

One of Eric's adult runners has limited himself to 200 personal items. And this is a guy who probably rakes in a substantial amount of money--like, he would not be eligible for a tax break if you asked Obama. And by 200 items, I mean 200 items. Every book, individual sock, razor head, etc, counts as "1" item.

Can you imagine?

While we cannot go to that extreme (I think we are the proud owners of at least 200 toy cars. Thank goodness we aren't required to hold insurance on them), we love the general principle of reducing your material presence on the earth.

So we've been slowly going through our house paring down our lives. And now we have dedicated to specifically remove 10 items from every single room to donate, trash, or sell. Mini confession #1: we decided to do this about 3 months ago, and haven't official started. Good thing it is a promise and not a resolution. Here's hoping this blog post (if the hubs ever reads it), will jump start this process.

I decided to make an additional promise to myself to try to limit myself to used clothing purchases for the rest of 2011. Since there aren't the awesome seasonal kids clothing sales for adults, I've been doing my research on brick and mortar adult consignment stores in the Atlanta area. I have a list of a few, but the market is pretty sorry. And then there is ebay and craigslist...but I really am the type who needs to try clothing on before purchasing.

A few months back, I noticed a Goodwill a few miles from my house. I've wanted to just check and see if they had any cheap camisoles because I pretty much use those to layer with every item that I wear. The best are the ones with built in support because, well, you know how ridiculously busty I am. (Oh, b-t-dubs, it was opposite day during the time I wrote that last sentence.) I figured, for a layering piece, I really didn't want to spend $15-$24 like they charge at Vicky's or even The Limited. And target brand ones tend to be eaten by our dryer.

One day after work, I swung by the Goodwill...

In the donation lot, there was a BMW and a Lexus SUV, with their drivers toting in huge boxes of items. Read: GOOD OMEN!

I only had but a few minutes to look, but it was the retail land of milk and honey: tons of name brand clothing packed on well organized (by color) racks.

By color? Are you serious? Are you channeling my obsessive nature? How did they know I organize things like colored pencils and hanging items by color (and then sleeve length)?

And there were people shopping. Like, I almost thought I had walked into Macy's semi-annual sale (that seem to happen every weekend, no?)

I readily admit I had preconceived notions of what Goodwill would be like. The only time I had really been was during college when I looked for costumes to wear at keg parties. And the Goodwills up in Lewiston, ME were not being supplied by any fashion mavens. So I had some serious stereotypical ideas of what a "thrift" store was going to be like--and in all honesty, felt a little self conscious about walking in with the full intent of buying myself clothing that would reside in my closet, and not in a dress up bin.

My first trip, I spent a whopping $9 and got 3 dresses. One was Gap (okay, XXL Gap kids, which I use as a tunic with leggings), and I immediately got compliments on it when I wore it to work a few days later.

During my first checkout at GW, I asked about the general operations of the store. There are no price tags on individual items, but colored tags and rack prices. And low and behold, every week they promote a different colored tag, and that clothing is 50% off! If only I had known--I spent "full price" for the 3 dresses.

I went a couple other times just in and out, and got a few tops (J. Crew, Banana, Michael Kors), for mere dollars.

But this weekend, I was given the coveted nap opportunity--that's when one parent gets to spend the boys' nap time doing something for himself. In other words, Eric goes running. But this time--it was a "herself" nap situation. I went to treasure island! I chose to spend an hour at Goodwill to shop.

Again, it was full of shoppers coursing through rack after rack, filling up carts and arms full of gently used clothing. Finally, I could spend some time examining the multitude of racks. And this time, I focused on finding "red" tags, as I knew they would be 50% off. But even at "full price," most shirts are $4, pants $5, dresses $5, formal wear $10, shoes $6, and even jackets are $6. 

I know the clothing is used--but you just have to be particular about reviewing the fabric and looking for smalls stains or tears. I rarely found anything. And isn't this truly another wonderful way to reuse? It reminds me of a TJ Maxx with a soul.

To date, I have spent $75 on all of my trips...and here is the score card. (Many items were $2.80)
  • 1 pair of barely worn Nine West knee high brown leather boots ($6!)
  • 1 pair of new wedge sandals of non-descript name brand--but it has European sizing--that has to mean they are good, right?
  • 5 dresses
  • 1 J. Crew lime green summer blazer (one of the $2.80 steals)
  • 1 pair of "dressier" dark jeans
  • 4 dressy tops
  • 3 Sweaters
  • 2 layering camis
  • 1 pair of never worn pink J.Crew dress pants/khakis
  • 1 pair of Anne Taylor brown leggings
This isn't the best picture, but an example of a recent $12 outfit I wore: jeans, sweater top, and wedge sandals all included. (Cute boy and silly faces not included in the purchase). Eric asked me if I was going to listen to Cyndi Lauper and wear my hair in a side pony with this top...but he just doesn't understand "throw back" fashion, yet. (It's throw back--I prefer that over "dated." Still too new to be vintage.)

So I confess: I am addicted to Goodwill.

I hesitated writing about this because I selfishly don't want too many to find out and steal all the good deals...but I also cannot keep such greatness to myself.

Honestly--there is no need to shop anywhere else-ever again.

And I have to thank the community at large, because I know this Goodwill is not necessarily representative of all Goodwills. It is nestled in a location where lots of "Dunwoody Divas" live, and probably rotate their wardrobes on a bi-weekly basis. 

I do wonder, though,  if I am wearing anything from Eric's students...or their mothers.

Eh, who cares. $6 barely worn leather Nine West boots? Bring it!

I think I'm off on spree this weekend--who wants to come?


  1. lol at this post!
    I'm glad you discovered Goodwill Ali; welcome to the dark side. Just so you know, the one on Lavista Rd (by Northlake mall) is a good one too. I'll have to check out the dunwoody location though--I'm sure there are pure gems in that store! On the bright side, not many people are your size (or mine, for that matter). I don't think your confession will interfere with your ability to find good deals :0)
    Take care,

  2. I'll be there this summer and can't wait to join you! Since our church thrift shop closed I've been longing for another opportunity to shop that way. It's a win-win-win - you help the Goodwill organization help others, you reuse clothing instead of it being trashed, and you get some great clothes! Fantastic!
    Don't forget going retro with my college and high school outfits either!

  3. Oh wow, I go to these places all the time and have heard of the Dunwoody Goodwill as a great place. I'd love to go with you this weekend but we have company...another place to try is just down peachtree industrial behind the dunkin donuts, its called second chance thrift store. TONS of good kid stuff, name brands! Had myself a spree with Avi a few weeks ago :)

  4. Um, can I please go shopping with you?! I'm not competition...we're not the same size! I'm so impressed!