Goodwill Stores Get My Vote, My Coat … and Sometimes My Goat

Since losing my job, I have patronized resale and thrift shops with more frequency – not for clothes for myself but for new housewares or vintage items to resell on eBay. I have also been on a mission to purge our house of unworn clothing and bric-a-brac purchased on a whim or left over from my days as an antique mall merchant. If we ever want to move, this activity is essential. Goodwill has been my thrift store charity of choice over the last six months.

Goodwill has a good mission and their prices are generally reasonable, although some of their Chicagoland stores suffer from the same illogical pricing as other thrift stores we have blogged about. The store in Carpentersville near Woodman’s has deteriorated – both in cleanliness and prices, while the two stores in Arlington Heights and the West Loop are for the most part reasonable.

Unfortunately, many of the thrift stores that I have donated to in the past have gotten greedy and overpriced themselves off my list of charitable causes. The majority of thrift store shoppers need to buy gently used merchandise due to financial circumstances. It is morally wrong when these stores price used and often damaged items higher than retail. Even worse is when I see people buying these goods. It is a matter of principle for me and I refuse to donate to such stores anymore.

Not all Goodwill stores are created equal, although they share in common a clean appearance with clothes that are sorted by type, size and often color. Their knick knacks are also displayed very nicely by genre – and by holiday where applicable. Most of the stores have carts with merchandise that is priced but not yet on shelves – I have never encountered any problem browsing or picking out merchandise from this setting until yesterday. On my way home from visiting my daughter, I stopped at the Goodwill in the West Loop. I immediately spotted a pair of priced cowboy boots on a cart near the front of the store. I picked up the boots and a young lady donning her blue Goodwill frock practically bit my head off and an elderly customer piped in. “You cannot pick merchandise off the cart before it is on the shelves – it is a store policy!”

“Excuuuuuse me,” I muttered under my breath – this isn’t a store policy – it is your I’ve got a ‘tude policy. I simply followed the young woman to the display of shoes (as did the elderly customer) and plucked the boots off the top shelf the moment she set them down. She studiously ignored me and the harmony and order of thrift was restored to its glory.


  1. Great write-up. Just a quick FYI – Goodwill stores (at least every one I’ve been to in Chicagoland) DO prohibit shopping items before they’re placed on the rack/shelf/whatever.

    • Thanks for the comment. Actually, the two Goodwill stores in Arlington Heights encourage shoppers to browse through the bins before items are placed on shelves. I talked to one of the clerks about this and she said that they are very happy to allow this since it saves time in stocking – but she was aware of the policy, especially in the stores in the city.

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