Goodwill Clearance Center - Five Tips for a Successful Shopping Trip


As if my Goodwill shopping addiction couldn’t get any more serious, I discovered my immense love for digging (literally) for treasures at the Goodwill Clearance Center (aka, the bins).

I recently scored 42 items (about 14 pounds) for $19.09. How amazing is that?

Since it’s one of the topics I get asked the most questions around, I decided to write another post on my top tips to navigating the bins. Below are my top five tips for a successful shopping trip at the Goodwill Clearance Center.

Set a Time Limit 

They say time flies when you’re having fun. If by fun they meant digging through hundreds of items in a Goodwill bin, then they’re right! An hour feels like 10 minutes when I’m digging through pounds of items.

During my recent trip to the bins, I decided to set a two-hour limit to see how it would go. I thrifted for two hours and eliminated for 30 minutes. While I went over the limit, it felt great to know that I could find dozens of pieces in just a few hours.  

Set a Budget 

Just like setting a time limit, setting a budget helps keep you on track. It’s tempting to say yes to everything knowing that each item is usually less than one dollar at the Clearance Center. Setting a budget keeps me focused on items that match my style, favorite brands, and expectations.

An easy number to start with is $20. It’s a big enough budget to get you dozens of items (42 in my case), yet small enough to not have you feeling guilty of your purchase.

Be Patient

Digging through items that don’t meet your expectations can be disappointing and discouraging. Trust me, even I deal with the heartbreak sometimes, but it’s so important to be patient and keep digging. Remember to look at every piece because you never know what you can be passing on.  

Something that keeps me motivated and encouraged is listening to music. So, don’t forget your headphones!  

Be Selective

This goes hand-in-hand with setting a budget. While it can be tempting to take everything home and eliminate there, it’s not a smart choice. Find a corner of the store and go through every single piece. Check for stains, rips, or discoloring. Turn the item inside out and make sure there are no imperfections. Trust me, there is nothing more discouraging than getting home to a bag of items that you can’t wear, sell, or gift. It pays to be choosy.

Be Prepared

OK, if you disregard any of my tips above, please do yourself a favor and keep this one in mind. While regular thrift stores can be a walk in the park for veteran thrifters, the bins are no joke. You’ll walk, dig, and touch things you’d never voluntarily touch (used underwear anyone?). By going in prepared, you’re setting yourself up for success and a more enjoyable shopping experience.

Happy Thrifting!