How to Have a Successful 30-Minute Goodwill Trip

the 30 minutes goodwill trip

Do you have unlimited free time to spend thrifting?

If so, get the heck out! We don’t need your unicorn-types around here.

If the answer is no, I welcome you, friend. I often found myself driving past a new thrift shop thinking: I don’t have three hours to spend there today. Maybe tomorrow…

HA! Most of the finds that I write about came out of a 30-minute trip. But how is it done?

Have a specific plan. 

Always go into a store with purpose. Are you looking for a specific item right now? Do you need new dress pants? Has every single glass in your house been broken except for one, forcing you to use coffee mugs when serving guests water? (Not speaking from experience…) Go to that section first. Goodwill stores are extremely easy to navigate and have good signage. Even if your plan for the trip is “shirts”, that is more specific than “thrifting”.

Start in one aisle and go all the way down. 

It may be tempting to walk past the racks and hope something catches your eye, but this is often how you miss the best finds. Pick a rack or shelf in your pre-planned area and go to town. Start on one end and don’t stop until you get to the other. Yes, this means you won’t see as many aisles, but I would be willing to bet that you will find something you wouldn’t have noticed just walking by.

Look at the new item racks. 

If you have extra time after looking in the department you chose, look at the new item racks. Goodwill usually puts them in the back of the store (or wherever the store connects to the warehouse) and may even be brought out while you are there. These items have seen the fewest number of customers and are often where you will find the biggest selection of items salvaged from Target. (Yes, Target! Almost anything they cannot sell is donated to the nearest Goodwill(s) for resale.)

Don’t forget checkout time. 

Gauge the line a couple of times while you are shopping. If you notice a steady stream of people and only one register open, you might want to hop in line a little early.

Look at the case items last. 

Chances are you will be in line for at least a couple of minutes. Use that time to peruse the cases at the register. BONUS: If you see something you like, it will be easier to get an an employee to pull it for you when it’s your turn to pay. Just please be considerate of those behind you when mulling a purchase over. I often set up a deal-breaker in my head: If that curling iron box is still sealed, I’ll take it. I’ll only buy those Tory Burch heels if they have little-to-no wear. I don’t want that necklace if it is missing a stone. This has saved my indecisive self a ton of time.

Don’t be afraid to leave empty-handed.

This one gets a lot of people. We like to see a return come out of our efforts, but this can result in a misguided purchase. Wait for the next outing if you don’t truly need or love it. You will only regret it tomorrow when you have one singing fish in your possession and five fewer dollars in your wallet.

I have broken down a sample trip for you below. This timeline may have to change, depending on your line length or what you’re looking for, but it gives a great starting point. So what are you waiting for? Get thrifting!

the 30 minutes goodwill trip