If you enjoy secondhand shopping online, get ready to bookmark ShopGoodwillMadison.com!
Your New Favorite Way To Thrift
I gush about my thrifting adventures at the many Goodwills in South Central Wisconsin and now you can go on your own thanks to ShopGoodwillMadison.com! I’m excited to shed some light on this site and tell you more about what I learned during a recent tour of the home office in Madison, Wisconsin.
Let’s dive right in!
Tour de Goodwill
To get the most accurate information, I went straight to the source. The Goodwill of SCWI Home Office in Madison was kind enough to let me tour their facilities and ask lots of nosy questions.
I’ve taken a private tour before but I’m still in awe of how organized and well laid out the warehouse is. Above is a photo of me meeting with one of the many experts, Will, who helps to evaluate and research the items that are put up for sale.
Online vs. In Store
So how do they pick what goes online and what stays on the floor? Items are chosen for their potential resale value with all funds going towards the job coaching service that Goodwill SCWI provides. So if something is highly sought after, they’re more likely to sell it online to get the most profit for their cause!
Everything you see online is something that was actually donated to the stores. I found out there is a weekly newsletter that circulates to the employees which tells them what items are trending and what would be better suited for ecommerce. The main items they focus on reselling online are electronics, jewelry and apparel (which we’ll talk more about in a second), household, and books.
Despite having a system in place to scout potential pieces, lots of valuable items still end up on the floor. Like one customer at a store who paid next to nothing for a painting that had a value of over $10,000! However, when things don’t sell online, they are sent back to the stores to be resold so that means you still have a chance at scoring your dream item in real life.
Meet The Experts
Many of the experts started off as employees within the Goodwill stores and eventually found their true calling in the company. Like a lot of us, they learned on the job through many years of hands-on experience.
Below is a photo with me and Michael, “the record guy”, who blew me away with his extensive knowledge of musical history. Did you know that the Synchronicity album by The Police actually has over 36 different cover variations?! Michael even had a few to share with me.
But more than that, he’s interested in preserving their history and passing it on to another person who will cherish it. Every time new music comes his ways, he’s careful to inspect it, sanitize it, and use the Goldmine Grading System to determine its value. He enjoys putting together similar audio paraphernalia to create bundles that get sold on ShopGoodwillMadison.com.
The Making of a Bundle
Speaking of bundles, I was in for quite a surprise on my visit when I was asked by Debbie and Stephanie in the clothing department to make my own lot of clothes and accessories to put up for auction!
Before I jumped in, they told me about their process for testing precious jewels and purses for authenticity, how they sort their loot (well organized plastic drawers), and how they come up with their own lots to sell.
The idea to group items together was only a recent exploration. It happened after lots of good items were going unsold and rather than send it back to the store, they decided to combine their huge stock with unsold items and BAM!, a great idea was born. So far, the venture has been well-received so I was honored that they asked me to make two bundles to sell online.
Each bundle started with a handbag and grew from there. The “sweet” spot is about 12 items with a mix of necklaces, rings, bracelets, brooches, earrings, sunglasses, watches, and a piece of clothing to be tie everything together.
I even got to assist Stephanie when it came time to set everything up in the photo studio. My job as a stylist at Maurices has me well trained for dressing mannequins so I felt very comfortable helping out!
In the end, we had two incredible sets. Stephanie took the photos, edited them, and put them online within the day. The auctions were live for 7 days and, if unsold, would get relisted. But wouldn’t you know it, The Outfit Repeater community was just as excited about what I created and they received lots of bids in their time frame!
While I could go on and on telling you about each department, I think it’s more important to give you some insight about the overall website and it’s operations that will help make you a more informed buyer!
• ShopGoodwill.com started in Orange County, California during the early 2000s. In 2003, Madison joined them with a team of just two people! The website has grown to include many districts all over the country who each sell items online to help support the Goodwill mission.
• Selling things online helps to further reduce waste at Goodwill as it gives items an opportunity to be seen by a very wide customer base as opposed to just a few people in a store. More eyes = more chances at being sold and kept out of a landfill!
• They value quality over quantity. With that in mind, about 90-125 pieces are listed online every day with about 100 items shipped out per day.
• All shipping is done right from the home office! They’ve even got experts for that. 😉
Thank you once again for having me tour your facilities, Goodwill! I hope you enjoyed learning more about them just as much as I did. Let me know in the comments what item you’re coveting from ShopGoodwillMadison.com!
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📸 by me and Addie Peck