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Ex-Goodwill Employee Sends This New Warning to Shoppers

You may want to consider this when you head out to your local second-hand store.

Goodwill stores are a haven for thrifters and those who just want to score a good deal. Chances are you've ended up browsing at one of these second-hand shops, whether you were looking for a vintage Halloween costume or if you prefer to upcycle clothing and give it new life. But these stores don't only sell clothes, they offer everything from books to furniture to those now-vintage DVDs and CDs. But if you've been to your local Goodwill lately, you may have noticed some inventory changes. Read on to find out what an ex-employee says you won't ever find at Goodwill stores.

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Goodwill has been around for 120 years.

putting clothing in donation bin
Fotorina / Shutterstock

Founded in 1902 by Methodist minister Reverend Edgar J. Helms, Goodwill was established on the philosophy of "not charity, but a chance," according to its website. Helms collected goods from wealthier areas of Boston, hired less fortunate workers to repair them, then sold or gave those goods back to the workers.

Today, you can shop at over 3,200 Goodwill centers across the nation, where donated items are sold to "fund job-training and placement programs in their communities," according to the Harvard Business Review. In 1999, the organization also launched its online platform,, which had generated over $1 billion in sales by 2021. This number seems staggering, but there may actually be a reason for it, one former employee said.

Certain items are no longer sold in Goodwill stores.

clothing racks at goodwill
ccpixx photography / Shutterstock

An ex-Goodwill employee named Jonathan took to the social media platform TikTok to share information about one company practice. According to the TikToker, he worked as a drive-thru ambassador, meaning he was responsible for pricing donated items before they were put out on the floor.

During the process, however, certain "valuable" items were set aside to be sold on Goodwill's online platform instead of the brick-and-mortar stores.

"We were told that if we ever came across anything that we thought was valuable, to take it straight to the manager so it could be sold to our e-commerce store," the TikToker said, noting that items are auctioned off on the platform, as "Goodwill's version of eBay."

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If you were looking for those rare second-hand finds, you might be looking in the wrong spot.

closeup of a goodwill price tag

Heading to hunt for hidden treasures or collectibles at Goodwill stores could end up being fruitless, per the former employee's warnings. "Nowadays, you just can't find really good items at Goodwill, because they're all getting sold off to be sold at this store," he warned.

The TikToker also said that Goodwill employees have scanners, which can be used to check barcodes on items that might be valuable, particularly rare books, video games, DVDs, and Blu-ray discs.

"Those get scanned, and if it pings in our system as valuable, they immediately get sent to e-commerce," he said. However, as Blu-rays are becoming less valuable, they might be easier to spot in your local store, he added.

Commentators said they also experienced this when shopping at Goodwill.

shoppers outside of a goodwill
Jonathan Weiss / Shutterstock

There are 150 comments on the TikTok video, with some users saying that they too have noticed the lackluster selection at their local stores. And Goodwill employees on the platform also echoed the TikToker's statements about the e-commerce policy.

"This is exactly why I stopped donating to Goodwill," one user wrote, with another adding, "This is accurate! I was a store manager at Goodwill and I was delegated to send valuable items, books, shoes, purses, etc. to corporate."

Others disagreed, stating that their local Goodwill stores don't follow this practice, while separate commentators said that they opt to shop and donate to local thrift stores instead of Goodwill.

If you're holding out hope to find one of those big-ticket items at Goodwill, there is a chance they could fall through the cracks, but otherwise, you may want to consider shopping at another thrift store.

"Maybe you can get lucky if a drive-thru ambassador is slacking and doesn't know that something is valuable and you can find it, but that's the only real reason to go shop at Goodwill," the TikToker said.

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Abby Reinhard
Abby Reinhard is a Senior Editor at Best Life, covering daily news and keeping readers up to date on the latest style advice, travel destinations, and Hollywood happenings. Read more
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