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How to Be Safe at the Goodwill Outlet

You’ve probably heard it said that shopping Goodwill Outlet is not for the weak at heart. It can get a little intense and rough in there. You should be aware ahead of time that it’s not always a walk in the park. Some stores even have security guards to keep people handle fights.

Unfortunately, due to the low prices and great deals, pay by the pound stores tend to attract some shady people. You need to follow some basic practices to make sure you stay safe while shopping.

In an April 2016 article, the New York Times reported,

What happens at the outlet can sometimes resemble an indoor extreme sport. “When the covers come off, let’s just say it’s every man for themselves,” said Jonathan Love, 29, who came to the outlet looking for vintage clothes he would sell on Instagram. “People go in and they dig and they just throw. I’ve had a shoe fly past my head. I’ve learned to just stand back and let the crazy happen.” Competitive Shopping at Goodwill, Grabbing Bargains by the Pound, New York Times, April 2016

Many people know that shopping at a Goodwill Outlet can get intense, so here are a few tips for staying safe and out of trouble.

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Don’t Worry So Much About Getting First Pick

Unless you see something when they’re rolling out new bins that you just have to have, don’t stress over getting up in line for the first pick. There is plenty of stuff for everyone and you’re bound to find some great deals even if you didn’t get right in the thick of everything.

Sometimes, it’s just not worth the fight to get that specific item. There was one time that I was lined up waiting to be given the okay to go through the newly set up row of bins and I spotted a cassette tape deck. I know these can go for some money so I set my sights on it and that was the first thing I planned on grabbing. What I didn’t realize was I wasn’t the only one. I literally had my hand on it when another guy came and snatched it right from me. It wasn’t worth the fight so I just walked away.

Don’t Bring a Purse

It’s not unheard of for purses to be stolen at pay by the pound stores. It’s best not to bring a purse at all and just carry your money, ID, and keys in your pocket or fanny pack.

Also, purses just get in the way… it bad enough to have to keep track of your cart. If you do bring your purse, be sure to put in down in your cart where it’s not easily accessible or seen.

Another option is to wear a cross body purse. This is what I do, just make sure to carry the bag part in front of you and not to the back.

Wear Gloves

Digging through bins can be a little gross and dangerous. You never know what you hand might touch in the bins. It’s also not uncommon for things to break and sharp edges to cut you. Therefore, we always recommend wearing gloves to protect yourself.

The only time you might want to not wear gloves is when you’re going through clothing. You’ll want to be able to feel the material and quality of the clothing items to make sure you’re getting good quality items.

Come in Pairs

Having at least two people is a benefit not only for finding more things but also for keeping an eye on your cart and watching out for each other.

When new bins come out, some stores let you keep your carts with you whereas other stores don’t allow it. Either way, it’s a good idea to have a second person with you who can watch your cart while you scour the bins. You can take turns watching the cart so everyone gets a chance to dig.

Watch Your Kids or Leave Them at Home

Being at the outlet with kids can be dangerous. I’ve been to an outlet where parents let their kids play with toys on the floor right in between the rows of bins. This is dangerous for them and will be irritating for the other shoppers.

If your kids are old enough, they could help you with finding items and watching over the cart. But if they’re young, it’s probably a good idea just to leave them at home.

Dress Prepared

This isn’t the place for flip-flops and fancy clothes. In fact, a lot of outlets are in a warehouse. You should wear comfortable clothes and shoes that you don’t mind getting a little dirty.

Many people prefer to wear workout type clothes, jeans and a t-shirt or hoodie, etc. You should wear good shoes as you’ll likely be on your feet for a couple of hours.

Be Mindful of Your Space and Those Around You

When you’re digging through the bins, it’s easy to take something you don’t want and throw it over. Just be careful that you’re not throwing it where someone else is already looking. Using a little courtesy will help keep the tension down as everyone is looking for a deal.

Watch Out for Other People

You can tell who the tense people are… the ones who are there for themselves and don’t care about anyone else. Just be careful of these people. Don’t go trying to pick a fight.

Make Friends

The more you go to the outlet the more you’ll get to know who the regulars are and who the employees are. Don’t be afraid of making friends with these people. Keeping yourself in other’s good graces is never a bad idea and you might actually gain from the friendship.

Other regulars will be more willing to share their tips and knowledge with you. Managers and employees might even give you a heads up on upcoming sales and special events.

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