skip to Main Content

Why You Should Shop at Goodwill Outlet (If You Sew or Craft)

Why you need to shop at Goodwill Outlet! Right now! I’m assuming if you’re reading this post you like to make things which means you probably have a craft stash. I tend to accumulate “stuff” that I can use as needed and I’m always taken aback by the price when I have to actually buy something specific from the store. Which is why I love thrift stores! But sometimes it’s hard to find craft supplies at thrift shops, and often even when you do its priced irrationally. Which is why Goodwill Outlet is so fun – you pay by the pound so things like sewing notions are dirt cheap! It’s also a great spot to get garments for upcycling.

I acknowledge these pictures are not awesome. I have been meaning to write this post taking pretty pictures of shopping hauls, but every time I forget and it gets toted downstairs or redistributed by my toddler son before I get a chance to bust out the DSLR. Please forgive me!

Already convinced? Find out if you have a local Goodwill outlet with their store locator! If you love shopping secondhand for the environmental aspect in addition to saving money, check out this post about upcycling/recycling toys too! If you’ve never been before and are feeling overwhelmed, check out my tips for shopping to upcycle before you go.

Des Moines Goodwill Outlet

This is what a Goodwill Outlet looks like! Lots of bins. This is where stuff goes when it isn’t sold in Goodwill stores after a certain amount of time. The bins are changed out throughout the day, with a warning given before over the loudspeaker. You fill your cart, wheel it onto a scale, and pay per pound. There are often larger items up by the front priced separately (like tables, chairs, gigantic picture frames).

It can be chaotic! There are lots of folks who make a full-time living “picking” and reselling on Ebay (it’s fascinating, really, I dabbled in it during a year of ‘creative’ employment in between jobs) and they come prepared with gloves and pointy elbows. I take my son with a snack and he is amused to choose one thing out (he changes his mind as we travel and has to weigh his options) but if he were too big to fit in the cart I think I’d wait until I could go alone!

Let me be clear, you have to like digging. Stuff is THROWN in and around by other shoppers. I love digging! It’s so fun to catch the corner of a sewing pattern and dig around deeper to find a ton of notions.

Obviously every outlet is going to be different, and every day (or even morning to afternoon!) is completely different. With that being said, I’ve been many times and never left without seeing (or buying) craft/sewing supplies like markers, stickers, stencils, fabric, and bias tape.

I am most excited about this giant white board – it would be perfect as a brainstorming board in my sewing room! Alas, it is an unfinished space with insulation for walls. So it will be a drawing board in the playroom. So many stickers, stencils, and play-doh toys. The vintage purse notions are intriguing, I need to do more research on how they’re used.


This next picture is going to make some of you cringe. So much plastic! I’m saving the duplos for when baby2 shows up and I split the little people with a friend. Those trains get daily attention! I’m planning on making a fun fabric bag for the laundry cart frame so it can hold my scraps.

I also stocked up on knit shirts for upcycling, can’t beat paying for clothes by the pound!


Are you convinced yet? Most people I mention it to say that they’ve never heard of them – and they’re not in all areas. I’d love to hear what you’ve scored, if you go!






This Post Has 20 Comments
  1. We have one in our area, it is unfortunately not in an area where I would go. I’ve heard it gets real serious- like chance of a fist fight serious! Awesome that you have on a little more accessible πŸ˜‰

  2. Jealous! The closest Goodwill “bins” is quite the drive away (3+ hours crossing several states!) so sadly I just have memories of how much fun I had going to the two in the Portland area. Good times. πŸ™‚

  3. I always hear amazing things about them. Our nearest one is in an undesirable area so I have never gone, but next time we go to Orange county, maybe I will stop at that one.

  4. I’ve been to the one in St. Louis once, and it was AWFUL. I did a blog post about it. I almost got thrown out for filming people fighting over the new bins being rolled out. There was broken glass, loose knives and diapers in the bins mixed in with everything else. The furniture was stained with what I believed to be feces. Never again.

  5. Hi.. I wanted to say that I’ve been to 5 different outlet locations. My thoughts are every store varies on merchandise brands n items. Love these outlets. I’ve purchased most clothing for my 3 sons n daughter from them. Plus toys furniture and tons of household items.
    Tips to give bring hand santizer n plastic gloves. Have time to shop because bins are changed out frequently n fun. Despite I have seen fights in nyc location but it’s so worth the price.
    Nyc location I found tins of Michael kors, coach, 7 for all mankind, Hollister the list goes on…

  6. I love Goodwill Outlets we have one about an hour from us in the Pittsburgh area and also one close to where I grew up in Virginia. I Love them both! I never make a trip to VA without popping in (sometimes daily) and I try to hit the one close to me monthly! I have found that they differ drastically! In Virginia I find a lot more “home” item like throw pillows and dΓ©cor (I actually use the throw pillows on my patio furniture much cheaper then paying $20 a pillow at Lowes for outdoor stuff! Plus cheap enough that if it gets ruined I can just toss it at the end of summer!) Here in PA I find more vintage things , both are great for upcycled clothing and of course kids toys! My husband found himself laid off this year right before Christmas, which being laid off is bad enough but lets face it December is the worst month! So we had to cut cost on Christmas shopping this year, thankfully my Daughter was only 11 months and we scored big by going to the outlet we spent $30 dollars on some really nice second hand toys which filled an entire shopping cart! Our entire family could not believe that we got such nice stuff for her and for so cheap!

  7. I have one and spend 2 to 4 hours in it once a month. Finds? oh my! leather belts for bag straps, fabric and upcycleable cloths for bags, good cloths to use and share, silk ties to upcycle, pretty dishes, jars for storage, tins to paint and store or give with cookies at Christmas, books, picture frames, art, supplies, quilts pretty enough to use, a blanket ,poly fiberfill. Dr. Martin shoes 2 pair. I bet you get the idea. I spend about 100.00 @ .90c a pound. It fills my car! I wash everything. Then I sew all month. Wow

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back To Top