This Clever Goodwill Shopping Hack Is My New Fave Way to Score Deals

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Credit: Jimj0will/

I love going to thrift stores. For me, secondhand shopping is all about the excitement of not knowing what you’re going to come across and imagining how you can upgrade your thrift store finds. Thrift stores can be really overwhelming, though. As soon as you walk in, you’re bombarded with all kinds of colors, textures, and smells. So how do you decide where to start?

I usually head to the clothing section first so I can try items on and discard any I don’t want before checking out shoes, books, and home decor. But I recently learned about a thrifting tip where you go straight to the put-out racks and bins to see the new merchandise that hasn’t been hung or placed on the shelves yet. You can usually find these racks and bins in the aisles throughout the store.

To see if this trick works, I checked out my local Goodwill’s put-out racks and bins. While I didn’t find anything that suited me, it was nice to start my search in a few small areas, and I was pleasantly surprised by the quality of the items I saw.

Credit: Abigail Fallon

First, I took to my usual first stop, the clothing section, to scout out a put-out rack. I only found one in the clothing section that afternoon, and it contained men’s athletic clothing. The highlights of this rack included a lightly worn Nike running shirt and an NFL-brand Green Bay Packers quarter-zip pullover, which were good finds to be sure, but not for my own closet.

Credit: Abigail Fallon

Next, I located a put-out cart near the home decor section. To my delight, the cart contained several like-new items, including a set of three wooden spoons that would be perfect for a countertop utensil holder, and a glass chalice that would make a great drinking glass or jewelry holder. Though none of these items spoke to my home needs this time around, I can tell this rack could offer solid secondhand finds. 

In the end, I only left the shop with one item: a pair of H&M loafers from the garden-variety shoe section instead. The beauty and the effort investment of thrifting is that it’s hit-or-miss — you don’t find the perfect piece each time, but when you do it’s all the more rewarding. Taking to the put-out bins first, though, is a handy hack for honing your focus and spotting new arrivals before others. The next time I visit a thrift store, the put-out racks and bins will be my first stop.