6 Thrifting Hacks from Ex-Goodwill Employees

The best day to shop and more insider secrets.

There's something magical about finding a hidden treasure at your local Goodwill. Whether you set out to score deals on a regular basis or thrift less frequently, these gems make hours of digging through old T-shirts worth it. But sometimes, you find dud after dud after dud. The reason? You're not using the right strategy. To help you optimize your thrifting hours, we rounded up ex-Goodwill employees' favorite hacks for finding the best products and prices. Read on to learn their insider secrets, which are sure to improve your thrift experience tenfold.

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1
The best time to shop is right when the store opens.

goodwill secondhand store

You may miss some of Goodwill's best items if you shop mid-day. According to Goodwill employee and Reddit user GoodwillGuru, the best times to shop are right when the store opens and a little bit before it closes. "We usually put stuff out at the end of the day and before we open," they say. "At the end of the day, when customers are thinning, that's when we put out furniture and sometimes restock the selves. If we get a lot of donations, we'll put out a few shopping carts of new stuff just at night." The early morning hours are when the regular shoppers come in to scoop up the best new pieces, they add, so you'll want to get in before them.

2
Try visiting on Sunday or Monday.

closeup of a goodwill price tag
ZikG / Shutterstock

In addition to a best time to visit Goodwill, there's also a best day. "I recommend Sunday evenings and Mondays," says former Goodwill employee and Reddit user ThePetPsychic. "People having weekend rummage sales will typically get rid of a lot of stuff to Goodwill." By shopping right after these items are put onto the floor, you might stumble upon something incredible.

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3
You'll get the best deals on out-of-season items.

clothing rack at goodwill
ccpixx photography / Shutterstock

At Goodwill, it makes sense to shop for summer clothes in winter and vice versa. "Nobody buys winter jackets in the summer," says former Goodwill employee and Reddit user PopDisaster00. "Just like any other store would do, Goodwill marks up winter items in the winter because they can, and people will pay more." Fortunately, you may find yourself on the winning end of someone's off-season closet cleanout. So, if you spot a stunning jacket, you should pick it up ASAP, even if you won't get to show it off for months.

4
Ask a manager if a discount is possible.

broken yellow cup on white background
Shutterstock / auns85

Haggling is fair game at your local Goodwill. Reddit user GoodwillGuru notes that many clothing prices are likely set in stone, but the price of furniture and wares may be negotiable. "If [an item is] far too expensive, and no one is buying anything (i.e. it's sitting on the floor for long), then you should at least mention it to the manager," they say. You never know when you could score a deal on top of a deal.

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5
The store is refreshed completely every four to five weeks.

clothing racks goodwill store
ccpixx photography / Shutterstock

Ever wonder how long it takes the average jacket to sell at Goodwill? "It depends on how busy the day has been, but generally within two to three days," says one former employee and Reddit user. "I would say it takes about four to five weeks for everything in the store to be new." Visit frequently so you can find the best pieces.

6
More valuable items are sold on Goodwill's website.

Golden chain close up. Fake jewelry
Shutterstock

If you're on the lookout for expensive jewelry, watches, and furniture at your local Goodwill store, you may be out of luck. "We were told that if we came across anything that was valuable to take [it] straight to the manager so it could be sold to our e-commerce store," says former employee and TikTok user @scroochmagooch. "Those items that we find are valuable do not get put out on the floor. It's sent to wherever our headquarters is so it can be sold online on Goodwill's version of eBay." Here's the link, in case you're interested in scoring some pricier pieces.

Juliana LaBianca
Juliana is an experienced features editor and writer. Read more
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