The Glory of Goodwill Oulet

Portland takes everything to the next level. Weirdness, urban farming, recycling, you name it really. And especially thrift store shopping. Buying second hand is almost more popular here than buying new and the prices can reflect that as well interestingly. But hold on to your hats my friends. You have probably never experienced thrift store shopping like this, not just Goodwill shopping, but Goodwill OUTLET shopping. That’s right, a whole new level of crazy.

I first experienced the Goodwill outlet with my friend Rachelle last fall. It was… experience. I think we were so in awe of the gravity of it all that we weren’t sure how to process it. We couldn’t figure out why all these people were standing around in a large circle waiting and then we saw it coming, a new table was being wheeled our way. It was like a bunch of piranhas in a feeding frenzy when it finally arrived. Sheer madness.

There are some rules to follow while there:

  • Always wear gloves
  • Do NOT touch your face or hair before sanitizing up to your elbows (which is very hard to do. You begin to itch from the thought of what is lurking in the bins)
  • Beware of incoming tables (They are huge and move fast)
  • Beware of the crazy’s around you because they can be ruthless

So on Monday I decided we should take a family outing to the Outlet. Matt had never been there and what better place to take your kids than the germ infested storage nastiness that it is. It just builds up their immune system right?

It was a fun experience to be sure. We walked away with several very great items and my favorite one was a food processor that looked like new and it works like a charm. And Jenna couldn’t have been more pleased with her 2 new princess dresses. When she’s older she can go for her wedding dress. There were about 10 in one bin and they actually looked decent. (I’m only kidding of course, I’ll buy her a new one, maybe). And please don’t worry, I used a great amount of bleach and cleaner before anyone could touch them without gloves on.

I think that I may do a new series on the comments that people have about this place on Yelp. They are so hilarious they had Matt and I rolling with tears streaming down our cheeks last night. Here’s a couple reviews people wrote:

I opened an old Japanese paper umbrella here and my body was infuriated. I sneezed and sneezed- then caught a chest cold that lasted a month. For all I know it is still there.  If my parents only took me here when I was a baby-  I would never get sick. 
  Look out when bins of ‘new with tags’  crap from target or somewhere come out.  I have a cell phone video of an entire bin being cleared in about 5 seconds.
I’ve been cut there, took a swinging hardwood plank to the forehead once, got an elbow in the sternum from an aggro local and had the stinkiest woman I have ever faced press her wet armpit onto my shoulder.  I almost fainted in disbelief.   This place has also provided me some amazing junk and a fair amount of money here and there.  Got a 60s tube driven guitar amp for 7 bucks, mint Yashica 124G, an old Hiroshige block print, plenty of other minor treasures-    but minor.
        -Do yourself and everyone a favor and buy new-

They should charge admission to get into this place.  Put up a giant marquee out front.  Or let a documentary crew in there to film the madness.  Cause what goes down here is nothing short of amazing.  Life as Performance Art.  

The customers run the spectrum from homeless(-looking) to eBay entrepreneur (also kinda homeless-looking).  Standing elbow-to-elbow, digging through piles of crap to find that diamond in the rough.  Scoping out ahead for possible treasures, ready to snatch or swipe at a moment’s notice.  Marking territory like tomcats.  This side of the bin here.  That gosh-awful, nearly-free-at-$7 chair there.  

At a minute before 5, I wondered what all the ruckus was on the other side of the warehouse– people milling about a certain area, all staring into the same empty space in front of them, anxious with anticipation.  Everyone seemed to hold their collective breaths when on the hour, workers wheeled new troughs of stuff into the empty space…  Ever watch wildlife footage of piranhas at feeding time?  Yeah, it was something like that.  

Goodwill Outlet = place where they take stuff that didn’t sell in the regular stores to die.  Probably the best free entertainment I’d had in a long while.  Also a great place to get cheap crap.  If that’s what you’re looking for.  Reduce, Reuse, Recycle!

Would you want to read more of these reviews or am I the only one who thinks they are funny? Let me know. And have you ever been there?!

3 thoughts on “The Glory of Goodwill Oulet”

  1. that is just too funny!!! We have a Goodwill here, but no outlet, that is just cracking me up!
    I actually don’t like Goodwill (not to be snobish), but the unorganized area drives me coo-coo. I DO shop at thrift stores and stuff, but more like Savers (all the clothes are matched by size AND color…and it just seems more organized)
    That whole sentence makes me sound snobby i know….but i’m not really! 🙂 Love thrift stores, and finding good bargins.
    Thanks for the laughs!


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