Experiencing the Goodwill Outlet Center

When clothes are $1.39 per pound, the rules change.

By Mikala Everett, Texas State University


There is an unspoken rule among the artistically-inclined college students.

You must get at least 80 percent of your clothing from thrift stores, hole-in-the-walls or dumpsters. If you don’t, do you even art?

As a left-minded individual, I choose to buy around 70 percent percent of my clothing from thrift stores. The rest of my wardrobe is given to me by my loving parents, who don’t like the fact that I choose to dress like a homeless person in other people’s clothing.

Two weeks ago, a dear friend of mine who happens to not be imaginary, called me excitedly about a new thrift warehouse that she stumbled upon. Sadly, I had to shovel ice cream to over-sexualized toddlers at my day-gig, so I couldn’t make it that day. However, my time of glory soon arrived.

After leaving work, I went over to my comrade’s room and she showed me all of her finds. I watched in envy and wonder as she pulled out article after article of clothing.

Our very friendship was founded on the fact that we both have a slight obsession with clothing and love collecting as many items possible. It’s not even the shopping that we’re addicted to per se, just the possibility of crafting as many hobo-chic outfits that we could dare dream up. I listened tiredly  yet excitedly as she explained the Goodwill Outlet Center and how it worked.

The Goodwill Outlet Center is a glorious, cacophonous plaza filled with bins upon bins upon bins. Each bin is stuffed to the brim with clothes, shoes, bags, books and everything else under the sun.

Every 30 minutes or so, they remove some of the bins and replace them with new ones filled with glorious treasures. I listened raptly and with awe as my guardian angel told me of the riches to be found. I couldn’t fucking wait.

D-day dawned radiant and beautiful. The birds were singing, the cars were honking and my roommate snored as loudly as she possibly could. Originally, I was planning on backing out of our rendezvous, but as usual I changed my mind at the last minute and decided to go. And man, what a great change that was.

That change led to a story of love, heartbreak and betrayal. It changed me for the better spiritually and physically. Instead of dressing like any old homeless woman, I can now dress like a homeless woman that can afford a sandwich. My, the world is such a wonderful place.

My pal picked me up and off we went in search of gold. On the way to El Dorado, my amiga regaled me with tales of the many believers that had traveled to this holy place, and of all the spoils they received in return—for only $1.39 a pound. That’s right, $1.39 per pound of clothing. My heart exploded and put itself back together only to repeat the process the entire ride there.

When we arrived, I could only gaze up at the edifice in amazement and thank the universe for allowing such a structure to exist. As we entered the building, a blast of cool air caressed our faces and the smell of used clothing wrapped around our bodies, enveloping us in excitement.

Even though the building is the size of two warehouses, it was beyond packed inside. People milled around everywhere, snatching items from other shopper’s carts, digging through bins and bum rushing to stacks of newly filled bins. It was so beautiful.

My chum tried to find us a cart while I moseyed over to the first row of bins. A little hesitant, I peered into a bin and gingerly pushed around some clothing. A dark-haired woman about half my height grabbed a shirt that I was loosely hanging on to.

A Pilgrimage to the Mecca of Thrift Stores

After about 10 seconds of quick deliberation, I decided that the shirt was not worth the effort required to stomp the bitch back in place. I checked my temper and wandered off to find my only ally in that wild, wild, store.

I found my companion near the shoe bin and we began to rummage through all the bins in the row. All it took for me to leave my tentativeness behind was finding one glorious, super cute shoe. I began searching through the bins like a madwoman, and upon leaving the shoe section I had six pairs of shoes in the cart. It was magnificent. We continued through the store, and several hours later found ourselves with a very heavy and full cart.

I’ll never forget the things I saw that day. A woman sent her kids to distract us so that she could snatch some items from our basket—unbeknownst to her, neither my friend nor I give a rat’s ass about how cute some snot-nosed kid is.

I witnessed nothing short of a mob storming toward new bins every thirty or so minutes and it was scary as hell. People were elbowing each other and I’m pretty sure I saw a fight or two break out. It was some serious stuff, but I couldn’t help falling in love with it all.

My buddy had led me to believe that everything costs $1.39 a pound, and much to my horror she was very wrong. As I moved my giant laundry bag full of clothing and shoes onto the scale, I crossed my fingers hoping the cost wouldn’t be too dire.

My heart broke and my soul left my body when the cashier told me the total was $50. I shook my head and my cheeks flamed as I hurried to put some of that stuff back. There was no way in hell I was spending that much money. Not at Goodwill—nice try, Satan.

It turns out that shoes were $1.69 a pound and clothing was $1.39. I still ended up leaving with three pairs of shoes and a decent amount of clothing, but I will never see my friend in the same light again. Et tu, Brute?