Are Thrift Stores Becoming Too Expensive: Part Two

Posted On Friday, June 29th, 2012
Filed Under: How To, Looking FLY on a Dime, shopping, Thrift Stores
thrift store prices, how to thrift shop
Two weeks ago I posted what may have just been my most commented on {via the blog and Facebook}, shared, liked and tweeted post. When I posed the question, “Are Thrift Store Prices Becoming Too Expensive?,” you guys chimed in and the overwhelming answer was yes, the prices have increased.

Some people blamed the lagging economy {more people need to thrift so the prices are reflecting that}, others feel since some re-sell thrifted finds, the stores are upping the prices and a few people even believe bloggers like myself are responsible, since we’re putting a spotlight on thrift shopping and making it “chic.” 

Hmm, whatever the cause, us frugal folks aren’t too happy with it. 

And Goodwill was the one thrift store in particular that everyone kept singling out. 

I’ve been a long time Goodwill supporter {shopping, donating and I even styled a Goodwill fashion show for disabled workers}, so I wanted to hear their side. I reached out to the New York and New Jersey branch of Goodwill to see how they determine prices and what percentage of sales are dedicated towards providing services to those in need.

Here’s what they had to say….
First off, thank you and your readers for your feedback. We really mean this as your comments, concerns and compliments help us serve you better. 
As far as pricing goes, the stores’ profits support Goodwill’s mission – a dedication to providing opportunities to those outside the economic mainstream. You can learn all about that mission at our programs/services blog, Where the Goodwill Goes, detailing our youth programs (like ballet lessons, summer camp, after-school activities), veteran programs (like Goodwill Suits Vets, giving out a free interview-appropriate outfit to veterans on special holiday weekends), recycling initiatives, rehabilitation programs (like PROS), and many, many more. While our stores serve to fund our programs and provide jobs for those otherwise facing barriers to the economic mainstream (including visible and non-visible disabilities), we also aim to provide an interesting array of like-new clothes at affordable prices at our Goodwill stores. 

To do so, we rotate goods, run weekly sales and have a shoppers award program for frequent shoppers. Still, please remember every dollar you spend at Goodwill is put to incredible use, benefiting the less fortunate members of your community – in fact, 92 cents of every dollar supports direct service, whether to single mothers, people with disabilities, veterans, kids, or others in hard circumstances looking for an opportunity to create a better life.

So there you have it…

 What do you guys think? Does this change your mind about Goodwill or other thrift stores? Are you okay with paying higher prices if you know the money is benefiting those in need? Has “thrifting” become too chic, so should we just expect higher price tags?

Source 

 

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  • http://twitter.com/KimberleeVDW Kimberlee VDW

    I love Goodwill and everything that they do. I don’t think their items are very expensive. Other “thrift” stores that try to sell you over the top vintage finds are the ones trying to make a profit :/

  • pntszdinFluence

    I’m torn! As a budding mini-philanthropist, I’m all about supporting orgs and causes that help people live better lives. That being said, I’m NOT spending $20 on an item at the thrift store with a Forever 21 tag. I’ve seen items like that too many times. I think pricing should ALWAYS remain as low as possible. The clothes were donated, so it’s pure profit.

    Happy to learn that 92 cents of every supports someone in need. That is awesome!

  • Seckols1

    Let me ask a question of Tom: Where do you think the people you are helping have to go to buy clothes? If they are like me, the only option is the thrift stores. Once you start pricing used clothing that is as expensive as the new clothing stores, we are left without any options. So if you are saying ‘we are pricing our clothes for fashion shoppers to support our programs’, that is one thing. But you can’t also say ‘we are here so low income people have a place to buy affordable clothes’. It’s one or the other.

  • http://www.myblackfriendsays.com myblackfriendsays

    This is basic economics. If something at GW is more than you are willing to pay–then don’t buy it!! That is the only way that prices will come down. If someone else is willing to pay the higher price, don’t blame Goodwill for trying to maximize their profits. Especially when the money goes to fund such worthwhile programs.

    • Typhanie Stewart

      I agree! And to be honest, considering thrift prices are going up across the board, I think Goodwill is still the cheapest!

      Typhanie
      http://www.mygarmentsofpraise.com

      • Jonathan

        I don’t think Goodwill is still the cheapest! I bought the other day a nerf gun for my son for $4.99 I though it was a good price but guess what? same day I saw the same gun but New with darts and everything for the same price $4.99 so I don’t buy anymore at Goodwill.

    • Thorn1k

      I agree as well. With many other products and services increasing in costs, I am sure Goodwill isn’t pocketing the extra profits as much as they are just trying to offer the same amount of additional services to those in need, and those services may be costing them more to provide.

  • http://www.myblackfriendsays.com myblackfriendsays

    And another point about the fact that something was donated. If you donated a valuable item (say something worth 100 bucks) wouldn’t you rather see it sell for 30 bucks instead of $10? If you’re donating to help an organization, it would make sense that you would want them to get the most money for your donated goods as they could.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=609976034 Dana Hohman

      no….I would actually sell my high dollar item then give the money to charity; not by having Goodwill take their slice first!!!

      • http://www.myblackfriendsays.com myblackfriendsays

        The big part of the reason people donate things is so they don’t have to deal with the hassle of selling them. It is a lot easier to drop something off at a store than write an ad, put it on craigslist, answer emails, set up a time to meet, etc, etc, etc.

  • Good Cooker

    I like to shop at thrift stores to find a bargain! If I choose to give my money to a charity, that’s my decision. It’s great that they donate to charity, but Goodwill is a business!! I prefer to shop at thrift stores where their staff are volunteers and the profits go to a local homeless shelter.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=643375156 Renea Henry

    I wait for sale days.But I find it absolutely valid that these stores are raising prices while they have such a high visibility. The stores are meant to raise money for programs and if demand is up, then prices go up too with the ultimate benefactor being the people who take advantage of their programs. Still the best deal in town- got a cashmere sweater two days ago for $4!

  • http://www.EatStylePlay.com/ Eat.Style.Play

    I mean i think people should remember this is a non-profit organization, and I have a aunt who benefits from their work as well. So i get it, and yes, they are one of the fewr organizations that give more of a percentage to their programs instead of Admin cost, and working for a non-profit in the past i get it, they have more people coming and took it as a chance to mark up prices, but I also remember when Goodwill didn’t even have tags in the clothes and everything was equal.  I don’t know I still don’t like that the prices are jacked up, but at the same time, it’s still ALL very Cheap, especially when i just saw a full on Dior vintage suit in there for 10 bucks. I guess it depends. For those who really depend on this to clothe their kids, and themselves when they are really doing bad it sucks, for us who might just be looking to add to our closet, and aren’t sruggling then it’s probably not as bad as it could be. 

  • Tam_Bo

    I’m all for supporting non-profit organizations. BUT, the bottom line is Goodwill is getting their merchandise for FREE. If their prices are equal to or close to store prices such as Walmart, Ross, TJ Maxx, etc it defeats the purpose of “thrifting” in the first place. There are other non-profit organizations who do work in my community just like Goodwill and they have not increased their prices. When I feel Goodwill’s prices are too much for my budget I will just simply take my money elsewhere. To each their own. 

  • http://www.mylifeinthecurvylane.com The Curvy Girl

    I love shopping at Goodwill but I don’t feel that their explanation really answers what you asked. It just sounded like a regurgitated rah-rah mission statement. I agree with the comment below that says if the prices are too high, don’t shop there. As much as I love to shop at a few local Goodwill stores, I have put merchandise down because it was more than if I bought it new. Another one to watch? Plato’s Closet…

  • Lilith_smith

    At least at Goodwill, there are willing to help out if you can t afford their merchandise, and they give back to the local community.
    This is not the case of Value Village that has outrageous high-price, is clearly a for-profit organization – that is why you will never have a referal from a social worker to have free goods from Value Village. Prices are not to be changed, or discussed, wether you can afford them or not, and that is shocking given that they had them for free in the first place.
    That is why I would encourage people to give items to charities like Goodwill, the Salvation Army, or WINS (Women In Need Society) first before Value Village.

  • Lilith_smith

    oh, and Value Village doesn t state clearly how much out of your dollar goes to charity, nor to which charity. Basically it is their own pocket first, and for sure they don t seem to care much about the people in need in their own community.

  • Midnight

    I shop a the thrift stores for a work outfit or dress. The Goodwill in my town the prices are pretty cheap. I also donate things too. BUT only things that I cannot sell myself rather it be a yard sell or Ebay. I have seen the store workers go through my things and it put to the side not to even make the floor. So I make my own money by selling things myself. It helps me make money and I know exactly wear my money goes which is in my pocket. Sometimes you can find things cheaper at Ross or Marshall’s rather it be regular price or clearance. And it is clean.  Why not help yourself in the tough economy.

  • Zenzele Bell

    They didn’t answer the question – they just issued the same statement they would give to anybody, for any reason.  Goodwill may be responding to the market, but keep in mind that they get all their merchandise FREE OF CHARGE.  People donate, and Goodwill makes money.  I wish I could run that kind of business.

  • sarah

    They didn’t answer the question or concern

  • Madeline

    Glad I’m not the only one who feels this way! I’ve gotten amazing steals at GW, but I’ve noticed lately that prices are on the rise. Salvation army is a lot worse in my area though. I’ve seen stores for both organizations charging outrageous prices for designer knockoffs lately. I visited a GW out of town and they had all of their “designer” bags in a locked display case. I know certain brands pretty well, and as soon as I picked up a “Coach” bag I was able to tell it was fake. I asked the associate if he was aware that it was counterfeit, and he said that he knew. I ended up getting a (genuine) Dooney and Bourke crossbody that was the exact same price! I also asked to see a Coach at SA the other day, which also turned out to be fake. They were asking $80 for it! Maybe I’ve been spoiled by spending $1 for Dior and finding similar bargains in stores that don’t price things according to brands, but I feel like things are getting a little out of hand.

  • http://twitter.com/SummerNelson Summer N Pridemore

    Goodwill CEO makes over 2 million dollars/ year. And doing a price comparison on a particular mens shirt, Kohl’s was cheaper. I’m not saying Goodwill doesn’t do a lot of “goodwill,” but other such thrift stores exist that are NON-profit, some even giving 100% of what they make away. I’d rather support a place that I can really trust is doing my community good.

  • Jarlath Healy

    Goodwill is ripping people off, period. These thrift stores were once the hot-spot for hidden treasures and really reached out in our communities for those who couldn’t afford to go to commercial stores. Greed, like anything had ripped that notion to shreds. If you were getting free stuff and paid your workers as low as you could by federal/state law. Wouldn’t you want to sit high and dry while paying someone else to handle the e-mails? Goodwill’s got it made, free stuff, people have to get rid of the old and in with the new. People who donate have no time to care about the poor or thrifter’s who shop there. They just wanna get it GONE. It will continue to get worse as folks now-a-days just want to sit back and watch someone else handle the problem.

  • Myemail Fromhell

    I would really like to see their financials before I could make a judgment on whether their prices are fair. While it is true that I have seen items priced in their stores equivalent to or more than retail “new”, I wonder what it costs them to do business. Keep in mind that there is probably a high percentage of garbage that gets dumped on them as opposed to items they can actually sell and it costs money/manpower to get rid of all that garbage. So to keep Goodwill in ”check” as far as my budget goes, I just buy those items that I KNOW are a bargain and leave all the high priced items for someone else to buy. I am glad I have that choice.

  • JeNeff

    A couple years ago, a new GW store opened here (Northeast Ohio) and the manager was interviewed in the media. He said GW as a company is trying to lose the “thrift” image and trying to position itself as a competitor to Walmart or Penney’s. This is pretty bold talk from a company that gets its inventory for free. Penney’s and Walmart sell NEW items. And they have to pay their suppliers. Goodwill is still a bargain hunter’s haunt, but much less than it used to be. I saw a Longeberger basket at a GW a few days ago for $90. I used to buy Longeberger baskets–that basket wasn’t that much when it was new and I saw similar Longeberger baskets at a consignment store for one-third that price. GW sells its used shower curtains for $5-$6 yet you can buy brand new ones for $2 less at a closeout store down the street.

    I have a feeling the administration at GW setting the prices caught on to flea market mavens and Ebay buyers who were shopping GW and then reselling the stuff at a profit. I suspect some manager decided that GW may as well cut that middleman right out and make that profit themselves. Unfortunately, that hurts the shopper who uses GW as a way to clothe her family.

    My daughters work and, like lots of teenagers, shop the mall. I no longer donate their nice clothes to GW–I give it to the Salvation ARmy.

  • Keltickaren in Baltimore

    I bought One scarf and Two belts..$16.00! I can do that good or better at Macy’s.
    Yes, I know the goods are donated and they have overhead, salaries, electric bills, etc.. but this is absurd.

  • Really?1

    I know this thread is old But I have something to say.Being that the goodwill is suppose to help families in need they should set their prices accordingly.I saw a family in the goodwill shopping for Christmas her son saw a shirt that he wanted he begged his mother to buy the shirt but she couldn’t afford it.That was heart breaking to me. I was told by an employee the workers set their own prices after she was in disbelief over them setting a price of 49.99 for a used pair of heels. Basically the goodwill is suppose to be a store where family who cant afford retail prices shop.If they want to act like Walmart they shouldn’t receive the tax exemption

  • annie

    i would like to emphasize a very important point here…this is not a thrift shop, its a front for a supposed “non profit” organization that helps people. There upper management get 6 figures income, I know this because I know personally and upper manager in California and he drives a freaking 80K BMW.
    Oh yeah like today, a woman standing outside the goodwill in Lancaster California, with swollen legs and feet, her feet were swollen she had taken off her shoes and couldnt get them back on. SO she was desperate, I saw her enter the store and learned about her story later. But what was horrendous was the fact that GOODWILL would not sell her a pair of shoes for $5 that she had been able to collect from patrons prior to entering the store. The only pair of shoes that would fit her were a pair of mens tennis shoes but they were asking $29.99 for them. A pair of used free donated NIKES! It broke my heart listening to her try to explain to the cashier she had to begin her walk back home but couldnt without shoes. The manager appeared and refused her as well. I was dumbfounded, I will never donate to this store again in my life, they are nothing but heartless, gouging and greedy in every way. They treat their employees like slaves too! Please for the love of Pete , next time you go in the GOODWILL make a complaint about their ridiculous pricing and lack of empathy to their community. All they care about is profit.

    • Swen.Ardere

      The Mormon equivalent (Deseret Industries) isn’t much different.

  • naut

    92 cent per? yeah right. At $719,147, Goodwill chief Michael Miller is the highest-paid nonprofit CEO in Oregon. Goodwill of the Columbia Willamette booked $106.4 million in 2010 revenue. So much for non-profit.

  • Mike hawk

    Why do your CEO make millions?

  • http://www.facebook.com/hope.olson.5 Melissa Olson

    Actually this article isn’t even factual. They do not support people with disabilities, at least in my county and the next they do not. They will not hire them or help them get jobs. The owner is a billionaire and the CEO makes almost $600,000 a year salary. They get their merchandise for free and then price it close to retail. They are out to make money and that is the bottom line! It should be a place where a family can go and be able to clothe themselves for a decent price. However, I am middle class and I can’t afford their items. They want $12.99 for a blouse and I can go to Ross or watch sales and do better getting a new one. They are asking $100 for used throw rug when the store downtown has the same size new for only $59.99. When I need a good laugh, I stroll through there, shake my head and then leave! If everyone stood up and refused to shop there maybe they would get a hint and lower their prices?

    • LookingFly

      The article is definitely factual and they do support those with disabilities. Maybe you haven’t seen it in your area, but it’s true.

  • jack copeland

    It’s funny too, all of a sudden brands like Tommy Bahama jump to more than triple in price, even if the shirt is tattered…

  • goodwilly

    I have “Goodwilled” for years watching the business morph into a nearly new item like retail outlet store. They search eBay and the Web, etc then prices accordingly. This is an acceptable practice except for one glaring issue, (and it is not because they get it for free, though this is a valid point, cost versus mark-up retail price). No, it is the fact most of the items are VERY used, often have something wrong requiring repair or are just broken junk someone dumped on Goodwill rather than tossed in the trash. Wasn’t the idea to price items at a point to reflect this risk? This is how it used to be but not anymore. Now they ship items off to be listed online, stuff you’ll never see, if they think it is worth it. For instance, you need an old computer for parts or maybe a person in need. Not anymore! You don’t get them at Goodwill. Non-profit my butt, just another way of twisting words. The old gray mare, she ain’t what she used to be.

  • Brooke

    no its def BS…what about single mothers like myself SHOPPING there?!?! trying to find affordable clothing and are better off going to walmart or similar stores because its basically the same price if not CHEAPER!!!! i saw a lamp for $25 at good will (lamp shade not included btw) and bathing suit top and bottom $4 each..then went to walmart and saw lamps WAY cheaper (BRAND NEW) for $12 and it came with the shade..and never before worn bathingsuits for $8..same frikkin price!!!! ps i also got my flipflops at walmart for $1 when i saw flipflops at goodwill for $5

  • oreo

    Goodwill where we live is so dumpy. Never has soap or papertowels in the ancient bathrooms. Still has the retail prices for used junk though. Went to a new goodwill by my sister-in-laws and the bathrooms have automatic everything and the new building was beautiful. I basicly will not go back to our dump after seeing that.

  • Pr3ttylilmonsta

    I just bought used heels there for ten dollars more then new online… Tell me how that’s ok? I’m a single mother to… Thanks goodwill. Lets see if they care when I call them tomarro. I feel like I’ve been robbed and we used to love that store…. Crooks.

  • Matt

    Once in a great while I will find a killer deal but more often than not I leave empty handed due to their prices. When they can’t mark something down two dollars to make it the same price as an identical item (two of the same pair and size of jeans) to make a sale then forget it. It makes me just leave the item at the counter and leave. I’ve shopped at 5 stores in the Eugene Or area and they all treat their customers the same. They have even adopted the rule of no backpacks in the store. Even though I was on my motorcycle and had to carry in my helmet, jacket, bag and gloves. The lady tells me you have to leave that at the counter. My response was “will you take responsibility for it if someone take my stuff”? Of course she said no, so I said fine I’ll leave then. Oh and my “bag” was a Camel pack smaller than the size of a large purse but they never ask any woman carrying purses in to leave them at the counter.

  • holliwoodky

    The goodwill in my town (Gaylord, Michigan) is a joke. A family friend’s home burned and the local dept. of human services gave them a referal to Goodwill to get $50 woth of free clothing/items that they could use, and the manager refused to honor the voucher, and told them, “Goodwill was not in the charity department.” Correct me if I am wrong but Goodwill’s mission is to help those in need. I will never shop at Goodwill agin after that, it is for profit not to help those who really need it.

    • consignment from a small town

      My husband and I own a consignment store in a small town. We are not a non-profit organization but, we have helped many people and families in need. Whether it be fire victims, someone who just had a spouse walk out and leave them with the children and all the bills, or someone on a fixed income that could really use an updated sofa or some clothes. We have had churches come in asking if we would be willing to help a family they knew and we did. We try to keep our prices fair and offer nice items to our customers. Many times, people have not had quite enough money to pay for their items and we have just told them to have a great day as we handed them the items that were partially paid for. As much as we would love to say that we are making good money off of our store, we are not. We sometimes struggle to pay the rent on the building, let alone the other bills that accompany the business. However, knowing that we are able to help those that really need it, makes every minute worth it for us. We considered becoming non-profit for a few reasons but instead decided that we would help people as they came in and as we could in any way that we could. Some people just assume that if you have a business like ours that you are making a killing. I guess for some, that is true. I have had people come into the store in need of furniture that is on consignment but could not afford the asking price. I have reduced it to the point that we do not make anything off of the item but, the consignor gets their share. We have seen families come in to shop for clothes for their children and overhear them telling the children that they can only get some clothes but not all that the child picked out and that they could not have any toys because that is all they can afford. I like to find what they were wanting and put it in a bag for them as a gift from me, as long as I ask permission from the parents first. I am a person that has to be thrifty when it comes to shopping for clothes and things, especially since we are raising a grandchild. I know how tight money can be. I once was a single Mom and learned what tough times really were. I gave up my last year or nursing school so that my husband and I could take custody of and raise our grandchild. We opened the consignment store in hopes to make a little money and to offer flexibility for raising a child. It has given us the flexibility for attending school functions and doctor appointments and family time. It has not made us a bunch of money but, it makes us happy to be able to help people. We may be the people that need help one day and I hope there is someone out there like us. Too many times, I have been in thrift stores such as Goodwill and overheard people talking about how “much” things were and how could they price things so high when they are donated to them. I just went into a Goodwill today with a few others. I happened to see a metal dog crate in the store. I asked how much and the employee told me $45.99. She looked at the other employee and said, “What?!?!? Why did they put such a high price on this???” I asked if the manager could come out since they told me that is who priced it. Manager came out and I asked him why such a high price. He told me that they sell for $120.00 and up. I asked him where and he told me online. I asked where online and he said Walmart.com. Well, I have been in search of one for a while now for our little dogs. I did not recall that particular one being anywhere close to that price. So, I came home and looked them up again. The prices started about 51.00 and went up but they went up as the size of the cage went up. Not to mention that the manager came out, did not smile or greet us…just simply walked up to us and looked at the employee and said, “Who called for a manager?” He was rude and actually provided humor to all the others in line near us with his response to the pricing. Some people put their items down and walked out after that. They too, were wondering why such a high price on something that is donated to them. It saddens me to read the post from holliwoodky about the family that they would not help. I just hope that there are plenty of other stores out there like ours with people like us that really do care to help. If you know of any, please share so we can be supportive of them. Thanks a bunch :)

  • JohnElligott

    Goodwill is a thief and more expensive than discount stores like Target/Walmart. Many in my neighborhood go to a new store and I had to look into this. The CEO gets over $700,000/year while they pay some disabled folks $0.22/hour. Something is definitely wrong here. Support decent retailers like Costco which pays a living wage and has decent prices. Goodwill is out of control. No one in my family will ever donate to Goodwill again. We donate to the mom and pop resale shop or give our clothing to real charities. Even a garage sale is better than donating to Goodwill.

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  • Smorfnimda

    They all check Ebay and see what others are paying for the item or they create their own auction site (shopgoodwill.com) and soak as much as they can out of people. Instead of donating the items to Goodwill we should go elsewhere. The Rescue Mission or Salvation Army seem to be a good place to go. Face it we gotta admit, we either go to goodwill to resell on Ebay or we more legitimately we need cheap clothes. No darn way are we going to pay Ebay prices for stuff!!

  • Christine Hudak Akers

    I’m not sure how to verify that the number (92 cents of every dollar) is accurate. I saw this recently, and it says “82 cents of every dollar on programs and services for people in need” (5th paragraph) http://www.goodwill.org/?p=17257

    I realize this article is over a year old, but a ten percent drop off is dramatic. I would assume they do an annual report?

  • John

    All new item prices have been raised to retail or above. In the Albany location, notebook was priced at $7.99…the listed retail price on the back cover. The same one was priced at a reduced $5.99 at Sears, right up the street. This “Charity” has lost its way. Give and buy from Salvation Army. They are absolutely non profit…and a good organization.

  • RosemaryPeppercorn

    Goodwill is a racket. (See the story in the link below…the management are crooks.) The Salvation Army is anti-gay. Garage sales, Craigslist, and eBay are better options. There is a thrift shop near us that benefits spay/neuter programs; that is the only one worth going to.

    http://www.newsobserver.com/2013/02/09/2667175/goodwill-husband-wife-team-earns.html

  • Elena Avlasko

    I walked into a goodwill store today… they had a very simple 14K gold thin flat chain bracelet on display. I looked at the price-tag and it said $350 on it. I realise that it’s gold, but for $350 I can buy a better new one at a department store. I looked around some more and found a sterling silver chain necklace in pretty beat up shape… The tag was for $30 which is what it would cost brand new at a department store. On that note I walked out. I think I won’t be returning to goodwill any time soon…

  • thrift shoopper

    I would never shop or donate to goodwill!! After how I saw them treat a worker there I have no longer shopped st any goodwill!! And all the above is bull !! Just go to Ross and get the same deals for new stuff!!

  • pitbullgirl65

    I’ve heard they pay their workers below minimum wage. And frankly? Let’s see their so called good works they are claiming to support.
    What about us who shop there? None of us are exactly rich, and I don’t care what it is selling for online either.