How to Successfully Shop at Goodwill

I love a good deal…groceries, clothing…anything really. If it’s a good deal, I am over the moon.

I get that from my mom. She, too, loves a good deal. And from a young age we made regular trips to Value Village to sort through the racks and find some hidden treasures. That treasure-hunting mentality has stuck with me and I go often to Goodwill to see what I can find.

Now what about Value Village you might ask? As much as I loved going when I was younger, I prefer Goodwill to Value Village now…and it is for one simple reason: price. At Value Village, everything is individually priced, so the better stuff is more expensive. Goodwill has set prices for all the clothing. Pants are $8…whether they are from Walmart or J Crew. And that is where the deals can really be found!

If you are willing to put in the time, you can find a lot of great stuff and save a lot of money. I buy almost all my clothes at Goodwill and I think I dress fairly well…and I didn’t have to spend a lot of money doing it.

Let me give you a little example:


These are all the goodies I got the last time I went…now the game I like to play with myself is “How much WOULD I have spent vs how much DID I spend?”

Here is how it breaks down:

Item:Original Retail Cost:Goodwill Cost:
Point Zero T-shirt$45$6
Joe Tank$19$5
Smart Set Tank$20$5
Revolution T-shirt$20$3
Twik T-shirt$15$3
RW & Co Tank$25$5
Mossimo Shorts$23$2.50
Old Navy Shorts$30$5
AE Shorts$58$5
Areopostale Dress$35$6
Coach Sandals$90$10

How can you not shop at Goodwill?

Here are my tips for a successful trip.

Purge Your Closet Before You Go

I like to go through my closet and get rid of anything I don’t wear anymore before I go to Goodwill. It also gives me a chance to evaluate what, specifically, I am looking for when I go. Goodwill is a HUGE store, with lots of stuff, so you want to have an idea of what you are going in to find.

Also, by taking a bag of clothes, shoes, or housewares you are a) promoting a company that supports Albertans with disabilities and b) you are making room in your closet for more fun stuff!

Choose Your Time and Day Carefully

I like to go to early in the morning…it is a little less crowded and you can get a first look at the new stuff they have put out. Going on a Monday or Tuesday is great too, especially in the summer, because people drop off their garage sale leftovers after their weekend sales end.

You also need to give yourself a good chunk of time when you go to Goodwill. My friend Viv and I can easily spend 2 hours looking around and trying on clothes. To really make it worthwhile, block out some time and dive in.


Avoid a Few Parts of the Store

There are a few parts of Goodwill that I either never go in, or rarely go to unless I am looking for something specific. This helps cut down on the time you are in there…and you can spend A LOT of time in there…

  1. Housewares- unless you need something specific, don’t waste your time here.
  2. Bedding/towels/fabric
  3. Electronics/furniture/books- though we did find a flash that we could use on our digital camera for $5 (including batteries) I don’t spend much time in this area unless I have a specific project I am working on, need books for school or have extra time to wander around.

Know Your Size and Shop There

Pants, tops, sweaters and workout clothes are all sorted by size. So know what size you are, and when you go in, shop your size and the size below and above (since the workers at Goodwill are not always exact with where they put the sizes)

Put in the Time in a Few Key Areas

Dresses, shorts, jackets, skirts and shoes are not sorted by size. They sort these items by color (weird I know). It is worth it to put in the extra time and go through the entire rack to see what is there. Since you saved time on pants, tops, sweaters and workout clothes, you can spare a few extra minutes.

If it Remotely Interests You, Put it in the Cart

Get a cart and fill it up. The more you try on, the more likely you are to walk out with some great pieces. Plus as you shop, you are going to see brands you have never seen before and may never see again. If it interests you, give a try…what harm is there in that?

Put it in the cart

Take a Friend Along

I asked what harm is there in trying lots on…well sometimes you walk out with something you think is amazing…and in the cold light of your closet you realize you made a terrible mistake. It helps to take a friend along who is brutally honest with you. Some stuff at Goodwill is there for a reason…it’s just a little weird. You’ll put it on, look at yourself in the mirror and wonder “Is this weird, or super awesome cutting edge?”

You need someone who will tell you to slowly back away from the strange dress with the cute buttons.

Yes. No.

Look for the Deals

Goodwill already has great deals on clothes, but every month they put one of their “tags” (colored hang tags) on for 50% off. So sometimes you can get pants for $4 instead of $8! If you want to really challenge yourself, try to ONLY shop the sale tag and walk out with even more for even less!


Like any shopping excursion, sometimes you leave with arm loads and sometimes you leave empty handed. But if you like the hunt and love a deal, Goodwill might be the place for you. Just stay out of my sizes ok? I’m not sure I am ready to share yet…



Honey Garlic Cauliflower

School is in full swing and I’m right back in the trenches with 29 little Grade 3 students battling every minute of the day.

Luckily I have a real cast of characters who are already showing their quirky and sweet sides.

I had one mom write me a note that said,

I ask my son every day after school how his day was, and every day he has the same response: “This is going to be the best year ever because of my teacher”.

Yep, my heart melted a bit over that one.

Another parent addressed me as Respected Teacher in the agenda…that was pretty great.

One little girl came up to me at the end of the first week and said “Mrs. Skinner, I don’t like being in this class…”

She paused dramatically with a bit of a smile on her face

“I LOVE being in this class!”

Yes, this year is going to be fun.

Honey Garlic Cauliflower

When I told Andrew I was going to make honey garlic cauliflower for dinner, he only had two things to say:

Gross and Why

Andrew is not a big fan of my “1 vegetarian meal a week rule”…he’d much prefer an all meat diet.

But because I cook the meals and thought it looked interesting, I ignored his sass and made it anyway.

I started by cutting up a whole head of cauliflower and breading it using eggs and panko bread crumbs.

Honey Garlic Cauliflower

I placed the breaded pieces on a parchment paper lined cookie sheet.

I baked the cauliflower at 400 degrees for 20-30 minutes until it was nice and crispy. I even gave it a little broil at the end to make it even more crunchy and delicious.

While that was baking, I made the sauce.

In a saucepan, I mixed

  • 6 tbsp honey
  • 4 cloves of garlic minced
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1.5 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1/2 tbsp sriracha

Once that came up to a boil, I added in a mixture of 2 tbsp cornstarch + 6 tbsp water to help thicken it up.

Honey Garlic Cauliflower

I served this with rice and stir fry veggies and drizzled the sauce over top.

Honey Garlic Cauliflower

The Verdict- When I asked Andrew what he thought about it, he said, “The sauce is awesome, but it is still cauliflower. It is like it is pretending to be meat. Next time why not just put the sauce on some chicken?” Ok, he has a point, the sauce would be great on chicken or fish, but I really, really loved this and think it is a great alternative to meat. I would make this again in a heartbeat and I know I will use the sauce recipe with other things.