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How to Shop Goodwill Outlet & Other Pay by the Pound Stores

You’ve probably heard people say that shopping a Goodwill Outlet or pay by the pound store is totally different than anything you’ve every experienced. We found that to be completely true the first time we went to the Goodwill Outlet. Here are a few tips on how to shop Goodwill Outlet.

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Before You Arrive

Change your thinking about traditional thrift shopping. There are a few major differences between Goodwill Outlet and Goodwill retail. You can read about all the differences here, but the main ones are you shop our of bins instead of shelves. Also, instead of each piece having a price, items are sold by the pound. Also, pay by the pound stores are much more intense and fast paced.

Leave your purse at home. Unfortunately, purse snatching has happened at pay by the pound stores. Also, it’s too easy to accidentally sent your purse down in bin to look at something and then forget you left it there. You should carry your money and essentials in your pocket if at all possible.

Ask someone to watch the kids. Unfortunately, pay by the pound stores are not the greatest places for kids. Since it’s so fast paced, it’s not uncommon for kids to get in the way or get hurt. Most stores have a rule that if you do bring kids, they need to be with an adult and monitored.

Find someone to go with you. Two people are better than one so if you can find a person to go with you it’ll make your trip more worth while. Two people digging through bins will give you a greater opportunity to find more treasures. Also, you can have a second pair of eyes to keep an eye on your cart.

Call your location ahead of time. It’s a good idea to call ahead of time and find out what their bin rotation schedule is. You can also ask them what days and times are the busiest. This will help you figure out the best time to go to the Goodwill Outlet.

Plan your timetable. Once your know the rotation schedule, you can plan your day around that. You should try to be there for at least one rotation, if not two. You’ll want to plan on having a few hours to dig through the bins.

Have an idea of what you’re looking for. By knowing the specific items you’re looking for, you can save time by only searching for the things that you need. If you don’t want clothing, just avoid those bins altogether so that you’re not wasting any time.

Pack your supplies in the car. There are a few things that you should take a long with you to the pay by the pound store. We will talk about these more in depth later in this post, but here is the rundown: cut resistant gloves, hand sanitizer, bags or totes.

Dress the part. This is definitely not the place for heels and dress pants. Make sure to wear comfortable clothes and good shoes. Also, keep in mind that these places aren’t always the cleanest.

Right When You Get There

Check out the rules. As soon as you walk in the door, there should be a sign posted with all the rules. You need to be aware of their process for rotating bins, their cash and carry rules, etc.

Find out the prices. Along with the store policies, you should also see signs posted about how much they charge per pound. Some stores charge one price for everything, others charge less for the more you buy, and some charge a different price depending on the type of item you buy.

Wear cut resistant gloves. You never know what you might come across when digging through the bins. There are dirty things and dangerous things as well. Things often get shuffled around and broken so it’s not uncommon to come across broken glass that could cut you.

Dig where no one else is digging. Check out where everyone is gravitating to. Normally when people walk in the doors, they hit the first bin they see. Instead, try to go to the bins that aren’t being dug through as much. You have a better chance of finding treasures that other people overlooked.

Don’t get a cart. Eventually, you might want to get a cart, but to start, try going without so that you can navigate the store easier. Some stores will allow you to bring bags in so you could carry a bag around to put your stuff in. However, other stores don’t allow you to bring in bags or baskets.

As You’re Shopping

Watch your cart. It’s not uncommon for people to steal out of other people’s carts. It’s helpful if you have another person who can help watch over the things you’ve picked. Unfortunately, this has happened to us before and you have to be very watchful.

Cover your cart. It’s a great idea to use a bassinet sheet to cover the top of your cart. This is a great way to hide the things you found and make it less convenient for people to steal from your cart.

Talk to the staff. Getting to know the staff is never a bad idea. Don’t be afraid to ask questions about how the place is run and the process. Many of them will talk to you and it’s never a bad idea to get to know the people working there.

Think about the weight. Don’t pay for things that are going to add weight and that you don’t need. If the item you picked up comes in a box or with additional pieces that you don’t need, you can leave them in the bins.

Watch out for missing parts. This is especially true if you pick up a board game or something that comes with a bunch of parts. I found something one time and noticed it was missing pieces so I looked around in some of the other bins and found the parts that were missing.

When You Check Out

Double check items before buying. We usually take our cart off to the side somewhere and make sure that the items are in the condition and working the way they should be. On the other hand, if you’re not quite sure, remember that you’re paying much less than normal and it might be worth taking the chance.

Keep IKEA bags or totes in your car. Goodwill Outlet stores and I’m guessing most other pay by the pound stores, do not bag your items for you. Sometimes they provide bags for you to bag your own items. However, it’s a good idea to keep those heavy-duty IKEA bags or totes in your car to put your items in and carry them into your house when you get home.

Use hand sanitizer. Even though we normally wear gloves, hand sanitizer is a must for us. The bins are not for the weak at heart and it can get a little gross. Hand sanitizer is just an extra level of cleanliness 😉

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