Last week was the 20 year anniversary of my current employment. Twenty years in one place – as Prince would say “that’s a mighty long time, but I’m here to tell ya, there’s something else…” Yeah. In this case, the something else is all this freakin’ annual leave I’m accumulating. I know what a bougie problem that is but at a certain point it gets ridiculous when you are accruing more than you can take off. But that’s a whole other rant. I say this to tell you what my summer plan had been, as my summer winds down. I’ve been taking Fridays off (because most of the offices here close early and no one will miss me) and going thrifting because I’ve found my ultimate fun thrifting place. It’s called Second Editions and it’s a Goodwill discount store. Warning: this kind of shopping is not for the faint of heart!
I tend to take my used goods to other, smaller thrift stores in the area because Goodwill, in general, gets more donations than they know what to do with. But one awesome result of all that is the SE locations or as I like to call it, the “by the pound store”. Here, you get a lot of items that didn’t get purchased at the typical GW locations, and I think some of the items are also donations that came directly to that drop off location (because some things I find I can’t believe didn’t sell before). Clothing, shoes, purses, toys, and fabric accessories are all $1.49 a pound. All other items are 50% of the sticker price. The store I visit in Charlotte is located at their Goodwill Opportunity Campus, so there are other things going on and the parking lot is always full. There are a cafe and a boutique as well but what I’m there for are the crazy deals and weird culture of shopping in the “by the pound” area. It’s kind of ruined regular thrifting for me.
Here’s what you should know about this type of store:
- First of all, if the thought of secondhand goods creeps you out, do not go thrifting. It’s not like going antiquing.
- This is never a quick trip. Plan to spend at least an hour – I usually spend about 3 and then I’m driven away by fatigue and hunger.
- Clothing makes up the bulk of the big room, and it’s all on rows of long, skinny, 8-ft tables that are wheeled in and out of the back rooms periodically with fresh stuff to dig through. And I do mean dig. There is no method to that madness.
- Instead of a shopping cart, you grab a blue container on wheels with a large number on the side. Pick a number that means something to you because they all get mixed up in there. Many people will place a blanket or large shirt across the top to not only identify it easier but so that people can’t look at what they’ve got.
- Many people wear gloves. Sometimes I remember and sometimes I don’t. And sometimes I grab something that is wet or sticky and curse my lack of gloves. That doesn’t happen often, but you know, sometimes donations come in and they have been in a leaky garage or things should have been washed but weren’t…
- The place is always busy when I’ve been there and people usually play nice, but sometimes people get heated when new things come out. Or if someone starts to sort through someone else’s bin. I admit to getting a little sharp with a girl who started pawing through mine like I wasn’t standing right there.
- When new tables or a bin full of shoes come out, people start to line up at the area but the employees won’t let you take anything until they have put everything in their place and stepped away. Especially for shoes, we all get a speech about not running, shoving, or grabbing more than 2 pairs of shoes at a time. Then they step away and it’s like Black Friday at Wal-Mart. I don’t bother with fresh stuff until the craziness dies down, with the exception of the table with scarves and little purses. I can’t tell you how many little Coach wallets or card holders I’ve grabbed. And at $1.39 a pound, my obsession with silk scarves has really exploded.
- Like any Goodwill, if a big item has a big paper tag on it, rip off the bottom and keep it with you so no one else can purchase it.
- Pay attention if employees start calling out container numbers. If no one claims containers that seem to be abandoned, they’ll empty it and put the container back out in the lobby.
- Tiny bladder? Don’t worry – they have nice bathrooms in the lobby (Charlotte location).
- When you check out, put the items on the counter that are not sold by weight (books, electronics, things with a price tag basically). All the stuff sold by weight will go on the right, on a scale that looks like where you place your luggage at the airport.
- If it’s weird (and not really heavy) buy it! You might regret not buying that weird Bob Mackie silk jacket or the opossum fur vest.
- I usually spend under $20 and come home with all sorts of awesome stuff. But I also am pretty good at telling if something will fit. There are no dressing rooms. Bring a tape measure, know your size in certain brands like Old Navy and Ann Taylor, measure your waist and chest before you leave home or whatever trick you have. When in doubt, get it. It won’t be a costly mistake if you’re wrong and you might have a friend who fits what you don’t.
- If you have allergies, take a non-drowsy allergy pill before going. Sounds weird but today it seemed like EVERYTHING I was interested in was covered in dog or cat hair. Ugh.
- There is a mix of people there. Some have big families that they are shopping for. Some are trying to find things to resell for a profit. Some are treasure hunters. If you have kids with you, it will be tempting to let them run around and yell (which there is a lot of) but that is definitely not cool with the employees.
- If you are local and coming from south of the city, the easiest way I’ve found to get there is to take the airport exit on I-77 (exit 6b). On Billy Graham Parkway, pass the exit to go to the airport and at the next intersection (with a Bojangles on the left), take a left and immediate right, then an immediate left into the parking lot. Voila!