Thursday, June 23, 2011

Who Knew Goodwill Could Be So Popular?

Today, at 7 a.m., the newest Goodwill store opened up right where I catch my third bus to work. For months, I've watched this vacant lot turn into a store. I was surprised how quickly it was built, as even our rainy winters did not prevent the construction workers from doing their jobs to get this building done on time. If this was Italy, the process would've taken three years or more!

Of course, I was curious about checking this store out. I have no problem buying clothes second-hand. There are something I will not buy used, though (hats, dishes, eating utensils, shoes, to name a few). But, if anything, often the books sold at Goodwill are even cheaper than the used books at Powell's City of Books. I had wanted to get up early so that I could be there at opening. I usually catch the 8 or 8:15 bus from that stop next to the Goodwill, so I could get to that location by 7, I would've had an hour to spend in there. I was so looking forward to checking it out that I had even dreamed about it! In my dream, the store offered cheesecake for everyone who came in on opening day. Whoa. I don't even like cheesecake and I doubted that the store would offer something like that!

Unfortunately, I woke up at my usual time, which meant that I had no time to spare before the 8:15 bus arrived. The parking lot was overcrowded and people even parked in the bus lane and on the gravel between the sidewalk and the parking lot. There was even a nasty accident where it looks like one guy drove out of the parking lot and tried to make a left turn over two lanes and a center lane of traffic where he got hit. Crazy!

After work, I decided to check out the Goodwill. It was still crowded at 6 p.m. Hardly any room to walk. I checked out the book section and was stunned to find about six books that I had been wanting to buy and read from Powell's. They were far cheaper than Powell's, so I grabbed them. I also looked at the shirts and pants, found a few that I liked and got those. I wanted to spend more time in there, but it was just too crowded and I did not grab a basket, thinking that I wouldn't need one, and my stack of books kept falling out of my hands. I got into line to pay for my items, when I spotted a book on top of the bookcase that I had missed. It was a hardcover copy of Michael Lerner's Spirit Matters, which I had been wanting to get for a friend's birthday on Friday evening. My friend is the one who ran for County Commissioner last year and lost badly. We often talk about how we would like a more ethical process in our city government, so a lot of what we talk about is reflected in the book. So, I got out of the long line to get the book, knowing that I had to return to the end of the line and wait even longer to pay for my purchases. Amazingly, though, the line shrunk when I returned and I didn't have to wait long. The line increased again after I got back in.

I ended up spending more than I intended to, but that's alright. I did not expect Goodwill to have as many things that would appeal to me. I saw a corner bamboo bookcase that I wanted to get, but did not want to have to carry it on two more buses home. I know that there is a stigma against such stores, as quite a few of my friends would not be caught dead in these kind of stores. However, I think when you visit these stores, you are seeing the real salt of the earth type people. The low economic status makes bargain shoppers of us all. Better for unused items at home go to a place like this, to wait for someone to find them. Its like having a garage sale at a convenient location. You don't have to waste your time driving from one garage sale to the next for the slim pickings in hopes of finding something good. For me, its the way a store sets things up. If it looks nice inside, then I'm okay with it. I don't like the grungy second-hand stores that I've seen. This store is brand-spanking new and I wonder how long it will remain that way.

Because of its convenient location (the store was previously in the shopping center on the north side of Halsey Street, but tucked away into a forgotten corner that was not visible from the two major streets), I'll probably be shopping here occasionally. This means no more Deseret Industries for me, because that one is just too far out of the way (it was convenient when I was utilizing the LDS Employment Services during my job search).

One thing I've noticed, though, is that thrift stores and dollar stores are popping up like crazy. This is not a good sign of economic recovery. Call me crazy, but I'd rather shop at Goodwill than at Walmart. When I want something new, I usually buy at Target, my favourite department store. However, I'm supposed to be de-cluttering, so this summer, I will be sorting through stuff and will probably donate to the Goodwill store on my way home from work.

As I waited for the second bus home, one guy at the bus stop saw me with a Goodwill bag. I had seen him in the store just minutes earlier. He got into a friendly conversation with me. He said that he scours thrift stores for possible antiques. He told me that people often donate things they received from other people, not realizing the valuable nature of them. His thing is getting dishes or other items that are made in China. They are worth a lot more than the prices he finds at these kind of stores. He showed me a yellow bowl he found. Apparently, a yellow bowl is a Chinese product that is worth a lot of money. He resells them at a higher price. Interesting. I think its just great that there are people who have no snobby pride in their willingness to shop at thrift stores. The stigma is just absurd. I consider it smart buying, because you're reusing stuff instead of supporting the creation of new products. Its better for our planet's sustainability to (1) reduce consumption; and (2) reuse items. True environmentalists shop at Goodwill (or Deseret Industries or the Salvation Army)!

1 comment:

T said...

I enjoy shopping at our local goodwill. It's small, but I often find exactly the right stuff. I don't do Wal-mart, ever. Their policies are terrible, particularly toward women.