What to Expect at a Goodwill Outlet Store

Goodwill Outlet Store. Photo © Flickr user Paul Sableman

Heard about Goodwill Outlet stores, and wondering what they''re all about? Here's the scoop:

Goodwill Outlet stores serve as the liquidation centers for Goodwill retail stores. In most cases, merchandise is moved to an outlet location, if it fails to sell within six weeks.

Goodwill Outlet Pricing:

Once merchandise is moved to an outlet location, it is typically sold one of two ways: by the pound (very exciting), or at a reduced per-piece price.

Either way, you can expect to pay at least 75% less than you would at a Goodwill retail store.

What You'll Find at the Goodwill Outlets:

You'll find the same things that you would find at a regular Goodwill store – clothes, shoes, linens, housewares, furniture, knick knacks, books and everything in between – just at a better price.

Shopping at a Goodwill Outlet store is a unique experience. In some outlets the merchandise is sorted, but more often than not, the merchandise is simply brought out in large bins for you to sort through.

If you like neat and orderly, this experience isn't for you. You'll have to dig through a lot of merchandise to find "the deals", and you'll have to do it while being swarmed by other shoppers who are doing the same.

Tips for a Successful Shopping Trip:

  • Bring a pair of gloves to protect your hands from any unknowns that you may come across in the bins
  • Go when you have several hours to dig
  • Leave the kids at home, if at all possible. Goodwill Outlet locations are usually very busy, and the customers can sometimes get aggressive
  • Keep your finds close to you. People will shop out of your cart, if given the chance
  • Shop often. New merchandise is put out throughout the day
  • Learn the rules. Some outlet stores make you stand behind a line while they put out new merchandise. Step over the line, and you'll have lots of people yelling at you

    Things to Know Before You Go:

    • Goodwill Outlet Stores have a cash-and-carry policy, meaning you'll need to have a way to haul that big couch home as soon as you buy it
    • All items are sold as-is, and cannot be returned or exchanged

    Goodwill Outlet Store Locations​

    Goodwill Outlet stores sometimes go by different names, including as-is stores, bin stores and blue hanger stores. They're usually free standing facilities, but may be attached to a regular Goodwill store.

    To see if there's a Goodwill Outlet store near you, use the store locator at the top of the Goodwill website. Just check the "outlet" box, and enter your zipcode or city and state. It'll return all the results in your area.

    Note that Goodwill Outlet locations have a red rectangle next to them. If there aren't any outlet stores in your area, your search will show all of the regular Goodwill locations (these are marked in blue). It would be better if a search for outlets only brought up outlet stores, but that's not the way they currently have it set up.

    Trying to Stretch Your Money?

    Use these tips to save even more at thrift stores, and be sure to check out the Goodwill Computer Works locations, too. They're a good source for cheap computers and electronics.