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Dear Goodwill, Are You Getting Too Big For Your Secondhand Britches?

by on Mar 25, 2010

Image: Shelly Miller Leer

Table purchased Saturday at a city wide 1/2 price sale at Goodwill.

In one out of ten posts I usually mention a shopping trip to Goodwill. For me, it’s Mecca, one of my favorite places to relax and do some serious creative thinking. I promote you; I laud you on your good works and pure mission, etc. However, the prices on used furniture and furnishings have skyrocketed beyond realistic value. I mean, come on!!!

The true market value on used furniture, excluding valuable antiques and midcentury designer originals, is next to nothing.  Granted, price points are set at whatever the market is willing to pay, a sound retail practice, yet it may be wise to keep an eye on the bigger picture.

The problem is, now listen here Goodwill big shots, people shopping for trendy secondhand pieces will inevitably stop looking for deals in your MDF saturated furniture sections, and people in need of real deals can’t afford to pay the kind of prices you’re setting. Gradually, your trusty customers will start shopping elsewhere to satisfy their junk addictions or to really furnish their homes.

Salvation Army, for instance, understands they’ve got a big store full of other people’s junk. Not only that, you can point out the junkiness of a piece and they gladly listen and usually come down to what’s a realistic secondhand price, not as low as garage sale prices, but close to it.

That’s another thing; garage sale season is upon us. You can be sure that, at the end of a long day, garage sale organizers don’t want to spend another minute packing up their junk and hauling it up to the Goodwill.

Even on 1/2 price days, it seems that the prices have been set artificially high in order to appear to be a good deal. We’re not so enthralled with other people’s castoffs that we aren’t cognizant of how much money we’re spending.

I’ve always touted Goodwill as the place to find great deals but I’ve recently found myself listening to others complain about the high prices at their area Goodwills.

Interested in creative reuse, thrift store and flea market finds, and turning secondhand items into showstopping home decor? Curbly’s latest Make It! publication has fifteen original projects that show you how to recycle some style!



  1. Denise

    I live in Ontario Canada and have also noticed the prices rising.  It seems really unfair when they’ve recieved the items for free from generous folk who feel they are donating to a worthwhile cause.  It is supposed to help those of us who cannot afford to buy everything new, however it is turning into another ‘industry’ based on profit, not helping others.  I am totally dissapointed in Goodwill at this point and likely will be looking for a better place to spend my hard earned money!

    I feel it is yet another indicator of how crazy things are becomming in this world of ours, a place that has always been a refuge for others is now just another greed filled corperation.