Tab's Tips for What to Buy at Goodwill

Goodwill shopping, like a lot of shopping, is hit or miss. Sometimes you’ll leave with nothing and other times you’ll leave with a cart full. We call the latter “hitting the jackpot.”

That means it’s a numbers game–the more often you go in, the more likely you are to score something fabulous.

However, there are some things you might not think to look for that, if you do, will make your shopping endeavors more successful. So here are

Tab’s Tips for what to buy at Goodwill.

If you’re new here or need a refresher, check out…

Secrets of a Savvy Goodwill Shopper (one of my most-read blog posts of all time) and

Five clothing items I always look for at Goodwill.

The idea is that Goodwill is going to have a HUGE selection of items that spans a variety of brands and eras, unlike traditional retail stores where you’re stuck with a limited selection of trends, sizes and colors.

At secondhand stores, you truly never know what you’re going to find.

If you’re looking for a spoon rest, you could score a fancy number from a department store for 90% less than retail or a funky vintage number from the 1960s. That’s what makes it so fun! 

1. Kitchen gadgets and utensils

I recommend against buying anything that isn’t able to be sanitized or at least washed thoroughly, like wooden utensils. I do get…

  • stainless steal or glass bowls for soap-making and baking
  • measuring cups and spoons (I like to leave the correct measurement with the item, like my 2/3 cup in my oatmeal container or a TBL scoop with the coffee)
  • crocks to hold utensils (or large pitchers)
  • vintage or ornate silverware or serving pieces (iced tea spoons and large serving spoons are my favorites)
  • oversize coffee mugs (the preference of the men in our house)
  • beer steins to decorate our bar
  • funky containers for sugar, napkins, tea supplies, etc. You have to think creatively for this one
  • cake and muffins baking pans
  • bar wear (especially if you need something like margarita glasses for one party)
  • tins for tea
2. Wreaths

Even if you pull everything off of it, a $3 or $6 wreath is still cheaper than a plain one at a craft store. You can always add ribbon or more flowers to suit your taste.

3. Books

Besides beautiful coffee table books (the beach, gardening, home decor), you can find extra copies of your favorites to give away, lovely gift books, kids’ books or fiction you don’t want to pay full price for. And hey, for $1, if you start it and hate it, just donate it back!

4. Tea cups and saucers

I frequently add to my collection and give them away at tea parties but there are many other uses.

  • put candy in them to have around the house
  • to store your best earrings on your dresser
  • fill them with potpourri as a gift
  • add wax and a wick to make a candle
  • to plant a flower or succulent

I also love pretty bowls and small dishes to hold jewelry or office supplies.

5. Linens

I’ve actually found some of my favorite aprons, table runners and scarves ( yes, scarves) in the linens department at Goodwill.

Make sure to hit the “miscellaneous” section!

You can find new and like-new place mats, table cloths and vintage items, too.

6. Frames

People often get rid of outdated or unusual artwork (like from Grandma’s stint in the watercolors class) but you can find some ready-to-hang pieces. Look for matching sets of two or three for bathrooms or random hallways.

I often take the picture or art out to use the frame, like the giant one I painted turquoise and added chicken wire to to make a memo board.

7. Baskets

I’ve found beautiful woven numbers, IKEA baskets for my cube bookcases, fabric-lined ones and beyond. They’re a fraction of the cost of retail.

8. Small collectibles to add to your Christmas village or fairy garden

You can find all sorts of odds and ends to add more personality to your collections or fill in space on bookcases.

9. Pots, statues, pillows and candle holders for your outdoor areas

Even non-outdoor pillows can work on protected porches. There is often a plethora of wrought-iron candle holders and wall sconces that work beautifully outside. Pots and ceramic creatures are abundant, too.

10. Anything you don’t want to pay full price for

In other words, unless you’re in love with something specific from BB&B or Target, keep an open mind and check Goodwill first (dish drying racks, bathroom accessories, tablecloths…the list goes on).

I’m was recently on the hunt for a small basket to use as a trash can by my bed and scored a sturdy little cutie for half price!

Enjoy treasure hunting! I’d love to know what you find.

What’s your favorite recent secondhand find? Comment or hop on over to the Facebook page.

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