Thrifters have noticed a significant change in recent years when it comes to Goodwill prices. Instead of finding incredible bargains like $2 tops and $0.50 books, they are encountering higher prices, sometimes even surpassing the prices of new items at Walmart or Target.
As thrifting and sustainable shopping have gained popularity, particularly among Gen Z, with thrift hauls flooding TikTok, it begs the question: Why is Goodwill becoming more expensive, and are these rising prices justified?
Let’s delve into the items where Goodwill might cost you more than mainstream retailers, explore the reasons behind the price hike and discover tips for staying thrifty while shopping secondhand.
Goodwill Items That Could Cost Less at Walmart and Target
Nobody heads to Goodwill intending to spend more on used items than they would on new ones at Walmart or Target. However, many recent shoppers have been taken aback by overpriced items at the thrift store, making them question whether they should stick to their local mainstream retailers.
Goodwill has been a go-to for those seeking unique, affordable dishes. But when it comes to basic items like jars and coffee mugs, shoppers don’t want to spend extra money when they could easily find them at Walmart or Target.
“The other day I saw a freaking spaghetti sauce jar for $2.99. If you bought the actual spaghetti sauce that comes in the same jar? $1.98,” said a Reddit commenter.
While browsing through the funny phrases on old coffee mugs at Goodwill can be amusing, shoppers have noticed that the high prices on these items don’t always align with their value.
“I can go to Goodwill and buy someone’s old, scratched-up coffee cup for $2.29 or go to Ikea or the dollar store and buy a new one for $1,” another a Reddit user said.
Although Goodwill can occasionally offer incredible deals, some of its pricing seems to lack thorough research.
“So many things at my Goodwill I can get cheaper new,” a Reddit user said. “And some stuff I know they were selling for more than what it cost in the first place. They were trying to sell a normal bottle of soft soap for $3. At Walmart, it is $1.24.”
“I was in Goodwill last week. They had used men’s boxer shorts for $4.99 each. Used! And Hanes, not a fancy designer,” a Reddit commenter said.
A three-pack of Hanes boxer shorts from Walmart costs only $10.98 (or $3.66 each), making Goodwill’s prices miss the mark for shoppers seeking affordable clothing basics.
“I could buy threadbare Wrangler or Rustler jeans at Goodwill for $8 a pair or buy the same clothes at Walmart for maybe a few dollars more,” said another Redditor.
Why Is Goodwill More Expensive?
Experienced thrifters who have been loyal to Goodwill for years have noticed the recent price hikes. But what factors are contributing to the increasing costs of items at this once budget-friendly thrift store?
While some Goodwill prices may seem completely unreasonable, there appears to be a general upward trend in prices across all departments.
“Goodwill’s rising prices can be attributed to several factors,” said Casey Jones, founder and head of marketing and finance at CJ&CO. “Firstly, the cost of operations — including rent, utilities and wages — has increased over time. Secondly, the quality and brand of donated items can also influence pricing. High-end brands or items in excellent condition may be priced higher.
“Lastly, the demand for thrifted items has grown, especially among environmentally conscious consumers, which can drive up prices.”
How Shoppers Can Stay Thrifty at Thrift Stores
Despite the increasing popularity and prices of secondhand shops, there are still ways for shoppers to find amazing deals while maintaining a thrifty mindset. Here are some tips.
Know the Value
You’ll want to avoid being the person who unknowingly buys bottled soap for $3 at Goodwill when it costs only $1.24 at Walmart.
“Understand the retail price of items to ensure you’re getting a good deal,” Jones said.
Shop on Discount Days
Maximize your savings by shopping on discount days. Visit your local Goodwill to find out which days offer markdowns on specific categories.
“Many thrift stores, including Goodwill, have discount days where certain items or categories are marked down,” Jones said.
Additionally, Goodwill stores often provide military, veteran, student and senior discounts on specific days of the week (discounts vary by store and location).
Explore Other Thrift Stores
“Prices can vary greatly between different thrift stores,” Jones said. “Local, non-chain thrift stores often have lower prices.”
Take a look at St. Vincent De Paul, The Salvation Army, Savers and other boutiques in your area to compare prices and find a thrift store that fits your secondhand budget.
Secondhand Alternatives to Goodwill
In today’s digital age, thrift stores are no longer limited to brick-and-mortar establishments. Online thrift websites, where anyone can buy and sell clothing, have contributed to the rise of online thrift shopping, offering increasing competition to Goodwill.
“Local thrift stores, consignment shops and online platforms like eBay, Poshmark and ThredUP offer a wide variety of secondhand items,” Jones said. “Garage sales and estate sales can also be great sources of low-cost items.”
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