Goodwill Retail vs. Goodwill Outlet

Whether you’re an avid thrifter or an online reseller, you are probably familiar with Goodwill Retail Stores. However, did you know that Goodwill also has another type of store? They’re called Goodwill Outlet stores and are also known as Goodwill pay by the pound stores, Goodwill weigh and pay stores, or Goodwill bin stores.

What’s the difference between Goodwill Retail Stores and Goodwill Outlet Stores? Goodwill Retail Stores are the first stop for donations. After items have set on the retail shelves for a period of time, they are shipped to a Goodwill Outlet Store where they liquidated by the pound before finally being auctioned off or recycled.

An Example of Goodwill Outlet Store Pricing

The most common way that merchandise is sold at Goodwill Outlet Stores is by the pound. However, most locations also offer some items at highly reduced prices.

Here’s an example of what to expect:

goodwill-outlet-store-pricing-example

The discounted pricing makes Goodwill Outlet Stores a favorite sourcing location for eBay, Amazon, Etsy, and Bonanza sellers!

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The Goodwill Outlet Experience!

Shopping at Goodwill Outlet Stores is an experience, unlike any other thrift store you’ve ever shopped at.

While some items may be sorted and put in bins separately, such as clothing, most of the items are not sorted. Items are brought out in large blue bins which you will have to sort and dig through to find the gems.

Meanwhile, you’ll be competing with many other pickers and thrifters who are swarming the bins and looking for the same treasures you are.

In our experience, the bins are lined up in many rows throughout the store. After a row of bins have been on the floor for a while, someone will announce last call for that row which will be removed and replaced soon.

When the new row comes out, everyone will line up on either side of the bins, but they are not allowed to touch anything until a worker gives the word. That’s when all chaos breaks loose.

Between fighting carts and working your way in between people to reach the goods, your adrenaline will be going!

Also, be sure to keep an eye on your cart as it’s common for items to go missing after you’ve put them in your cart. It helps if two people go together so that one can keep an eye on the cart. Also, if you’re a reseller, the second person can be researching items and deciding which items to keep and which to put back.

Goodwill Outlet Store Tips: Key Things to Remember

  • You must remove items immediately after paying; they do not allow items to be put on hold.
  • Bring a vehicle that can haul away large quantities.
  • They do not provide shopping bags. Bring plastic totes that you can place your items into once returning to your vehicle.
  • They do not offer returns or exchanges; items are sold as-is.
  • Bring gloves so that you can safely sort through the bins.
  • Make sure items that have multiple parts are complete (i.e. coffee maker, food processor)
  • Plan on spending at least an hour, time will go by quick!
  • Full detail list of all tips here

Goodwill Outlet Store Locator

BLUE = Goodwill Outlet locations exist
RED = Goodwill Outlet locations not available

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Real Trip Case Studies

We live in a suburb of Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Our nearest and only Goodwill Outlet store is located in Des Moines, approximately two hours away. We made the drive three separate times. The first two times we traveled in a group of three. The last time only two of us went. Having more than one of us allowed for better coverage of picking throughout the store simultaneously. It also allowed one to sort through cart and call back home where another researched online to see if the item was a good deal or not. And having another person to watch over your cart while you need to use the restroom is also beneficial. We have turned our back on our carts for a few seconds, only to turn around and witness another customer take something out of our cart and claim for their own! Learn from our mistake and take this advice, “travel in pairs” at minimum.

Trip #1

  • Purchased 42 items
  • 23 items sold within 30 days of listing
  • 32 items sold within 90 days
  • 8 items were deemed no good to resell
  • 1 item still remains listed and unsold
  • 4 hours picking time
  • Gross Profit – $505.60

(Gross = Sale price minus eBay listing fees, final value fees, PayPal fees, shipping fees, packaging)

Less Purchase of items (96 lbs @ $.59/lb.) = $56.64

Less fuel costs Des Moines and return to CR = $42.00

Net Profit = $406.96

Items worth mentioning:

  1. Brother GX-6750 Electronic Typewriter (new in box!) Yes, we actually retrieved this at the outlet store new, unopened, in original box. We sold on eBay for $74.99! You can try viewing this on eBay with listing #121232106431. However, they take viewing away after 90 days of sale, so you might research and view listing on Terapeak. If you cannot view listing number in either link, click here to view similar type listings.
  2. Numark TTUSB Professional DJ Turntable (used). We sold on eBay for $49.99. You can try viewing this on eBay with listing #121261088827. However, they take viewing away after 90 days of sale, so you might research and view listing on Terapeak. If you cannot view listing number in either link, click here to view similar type listings.

Trip #2

  • Purchased 31 items
  • 18 items sold within 30 days of listing
  • 25 items sold within 60 days
  • 5 items were deemed no good to resell
  • 1 item still remains listed and unsold
  • 4 hours picking time

Gross Profit – $330.03 (Gross = Sale price minus eBay listing fees, final value fees, PayPal fees, shipping fees, packaging)

Less Purchase of items (57lbs @ $.59/lb.) = $33.63

Less fuel costs Des Moines and return to CR = $42.00

Net Profit = $254.40

Items worth mentioning:

  1. Sony Radio Cassette Corder CFS-W304 AM/FM Player (used). We sold on eBay for $34.99! You can try viewing this on eBay with listing #12157277634. However, they take viewing away after 90 days of sale, so you might research and view listing on Terapeak. If you cannot view listing number in either link, click here to view similar type listings.
  2. Homedics Massager Heat Pad Chair with Vibrating Cushion (used). We sold on eBay for $29.99. You can try viewing this on eBay with listing #121251417887. However, they take viewing away after 90 days of sale, so you might research and view listing on Terapeak. If you cannot view listing number in either link, click here to view similar type listings.

Trip #3

  • Purchased 14 items
  • 8 items sold within 30 days of listing
  • 11 items sold within 150 days
  • 3 items still remain listed and unsold
  • 3 hours picking time

Gross Profit – $154.84 (Gross = Sale price minus eBay listing fees, final value fees, PayPal fees, shipping fees, packaging)

Less Purchase of items (21lbs @ $.89/lb.) = $18.69

Less fuel costs Des Moines and return to CR = $40.00

Net Profit = $96.15

Items worth mentioning:

  1. Furby 59294 by Tiger Electronics, Hasbro Interactive toy (used). One of our most fun listings and sales. We sold on eBay for $29.99! You can try viewing this on eBay with listing #171370791853. However, they take viewing away after 90 days of sale, so you might research and view listing on Terapeak. If you cannot view listing number in either link, click here to view similar type listings.
  2. Husqvarna Sewing Machine Pedal FR510 (used). Yes, parts sell. You don’t need a complete assembly to make sales online We sold this sewing machine pedal on eBay for $17.99. You can try viewing this on eBay with listing #171370459003. However, they take viewing away after 90 days of sale, so you might research and view listing on Terapeak. If you cannot view listing number in either link, click here to view similar type listings.

We hope there is a Goodwill Outlet store in your region. As you can see, you may need to travel a distance in order to benefit, but please note seeing our Live Case Study, that we still made profit after each visit which included the cost of fuel.

You may ask, why travel to one of these stores? Why not just purchase the item within one of your local Goodwill Retail stores? Yes, you could and probably are currently doing that. However, when adjusting for each of these item costs purchased at the Outlet location, we have $1-$2 per item investment. The sewing machine at our local Retail store would have been priced from $9.38 – $15.38. The turntable and Homedics heat pad massager would have been priced similar. The Furby and sewing pedal would have been priced around $5.38 – $9.38. Could we have still made a profit based on our local Goodwill Retail store costs? Yes. Would it had been the same amount of profit? No. And though we have travel expense, our cash flow was less than purchasing at higher prices locally.

Now you can see why Goodwill Outlet stores are a hidden secret among online resellers. Knowing about these locations is valuable and should become part of your business model if you are a picker. Not all states have a Goodwill Outlet location, however, some other organizations have similar type stores.

About the author

If this information has been a blessing and you would like more of our online sharing adventures, visit The Family Pickers.