Buying Clothes By The Pound: 11 Tips For Shopping The Goodwill Bins

Buying Clothes By The PoundLooking for where you can buy clothes by the pound? Whether you are shopping for yourself or want to resell your items online for profit, you will learn how and where to buy clothes by the pound in this complete guide.

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Where Can You Buy Clothes By The Pound?

When you hear people talk about “The Bins” and buying clothes by the pound, they are probably referring to Goodwill Outlets.

Goodwill Outlets are different than their retail stores. Most items in the Outlets are sold by the pound. Some items will have a marked price.

How Do Goodwill Outlets Work?

There are a few different ways Goodwill Outlets get their inventory.

1) Unsorted Merchandise

A lot of times, Goodwill does not have the time to sort through all of their donations. Anything they are not able to get to will head to the Outlet locations.

You may be able to recognize these types of goods as a lot of times they are still in the bags they were donated in.

You will find a lot of junk (bags of socks, anyone?), but there may be a few hidden gems here and there.

2) Sorted Merchandise

When Goodwill receives donations, they will sort through and keep what they are going to sell in their retail stores.

The rest heads to the Outlets to be sold by the pound.

3) Unsold Merchandise

Merchandise in Goodwill’s retail stores that does not sell heads to the Outlets as well.

You will be able to recognize this type of goods because it will have the Goodwill tags still attached.

The pros to these types of goods, is it has already been sorted through and most is in good condition.

There are some great founds to be had with this type. Some items may have been priced too high to sell. Others may have been marked with a special tag so they never when on sale in the retail store.

Some Examples Of What I've Found At Goodwill Outlets

I buy anywhere from 30-50 pounds weekly from Goodwill Outlets to resell. This is from spending around 3 hours in one weekly trip.

I make approximately $500 per trip. 

Here are a few big finds.

Books are normally $0.50, however I quickly hid this in my cart under a lot of clothes and forgot to pull it out when I went to check out. So I paid by the pound, around $1. Sold for $159.99 plus shipping

Book From Goodwill Outlet

Paid around $4-5 for this coat. Sold for $79.99.

Coat From Goodwill Outlet

Paid $4.99 for this coverall flotation device. Sold for $79.99.

Paid around $3 for these vintage boots and sold for almost $100.

And my best find of all time (unfortunately I never saved a picture, so excuse that) – a vintage Filson mackinaw coat. Paid around $4 plus $16 for dry cleaning. Sold for $212 and was returned for fit. Sold the second time for $249.99 plus shipping!

Filson Found At Goodwill Outlet

If you enjoy seeing sales like this, be sure to check out these posts:

Tips For Visiting Goodwill Outlets

There’s no doubt that shopping at Goodwill Outlets is an experience!

Here are 8 tips to make the most of your time there.

1) Know What To Expect When You Visit Goodwill Outlets

If you’re considering visiting a Goodwill Outlet (a.k.a. “The Bins”), you will want to know what to expect before you get there.

Expect It To Be Dirty

First off, know that everything is uncleaned. Someone donates boots with dirt, they end up in the bins exactly like how they were donated.

Worse than dirt, you may come across clothes with bodily fluids such as blood on them.

You will even come across underwear. Lots of underwear. You can always tell the first timers by their reaction to coming across their first pair!

Nothing Is Sorted

Goods may be roughly sorted. There are two main categories of types of goods:

  • Textiles (clothing and other fabrics)
  • Hardlines (or hard goods) – this is pretty much everything else.

Items may also be sorted out into a few other categories such as:

  • Glassware
  • Picture Frames
  • Shoes
  • Accessories (Purses, bags, luggage, scarves, hats)
  • Books
Items Are In Bins

Almost everything at Goodwill Outlets are in bins, hence the nickname “The Bins.”

To find anything, you will need to sort through items in the bins. This may be quite the arms/abs workout as you will need to push and pull to see everything in each bin.

Here’s What You Can Do

Depending on your comfort level with dirt and germs, you may want to consider bringing:

  • Gloves
  • Mask

Both of these are very common to see at the Outlet (even pre-COVID!).

 

 

2) Only Bring What You Need

When you shop at The Bins, only bring the absolute essential items.

Leave everything else at home or in the car.

You do not want to be that lady setting her purse down in the bins only to have someone think they found an awesome treasure. (Yes, it’s happened to me – I was the one who thought I found a really nice purse)!

You also don’t want to be that parent frantically running through the store telling everyone to look for their kid’s phone that was set down in the bins. (Yes, I’ve seen that happen too)!

Here are my essentials:

  • Keys to get back in the car
  • Credit card/driver’s license to pay
  • Phone to look items up

That’s it!

The only time I have anything else is if I’m shopping with a little one. Then I will bring in a snack for them.

3) Plan On Spending At Least 1 Hour Shopping

Goodwill Outlets aren’t a place you can just pop into and find what you are looking for.

It takes time to sort through things.

Plan on spending a minimum of one hour shopping, preferably more.

Make sure to stay for a “bin rotation.” This is when they remove one row of bins and bring out fresh, new bins. This is where you can find gold!

4) Keep Your Eye Out For Money!

This is a fun tip!

In additional to being on the lookout for awesome items for yourself or items you can flip for profit, you will want to keep your eye out for money – cold hard cash!

I rarely find money because I’m looking for other things, but my kids find money all the time because that’s what they are looking for.

I even know someone who found $250 in a pocket!

Here’s some tips:

  • Coins are often in the bottom of the bins.
  • Check purses and all the pockets (Be sure to turn in any credit/debit cards, or identification cards).
  • Pat pockets of clothes to hear a crinkle of paper money.
  • Listen for the jingle of coins.
  • Know that you may also come across gift cards with money still on them.

5) Understand The Pricing

When you head to your local Goodwill Outlet, it’s important that you understand how the pricing works.

Every Outlet is different. Even for the several I’ve visited near me, the prices and the categories are different at each one.

Most (if not all), will give a substantial price break the more you buy. As an example, my Goodwill Outlet gives a hefty discount at 30+ lbs and at 50+ lbs.

Some Outlets will also have a fixed price for unmarked goods that are very heavy. For example, I recently came across a duvet cover that weighed nearly 8 pounds.

At the standard cost per pound it would have cost me around $10. However, with the fixed price, it was only $4.99.

This is the most important part when it comes to pricing: you will want to have everything separated by categories for the cashier. This is especially true if you are using the roll-on scales (more on that next).

Here is the reason: the cashier will not sort through your cart for you. So for that 8 lb duvet cover, had I not pulled it out ahead of time, I would have paid the per pound price.

This same thing will happen for other categories such as glassware and books, so make sure you have them separated for your cashier.

6) Shopping Strategy

Strategy for shopping?

Definitely.

Here’s the shopping strategy I use:

  1. Grab items
  2. Sort later
Grab Items

Pick one row of bins and go through them bin by bin, up one side down the other. I like to put my items in the baby seat area of the shopping cart.

Sorting

Once I’ve made it through a row of bins (preferably before another row is brought out), I then sort through my items.

You will want to check items for flaws such as holes, stains, or ripped seams.

Once I’ve gone through my items, I then place them into the main cart area.

That frees up the baby seat area so that I’m ready for when the next row of bins comes out.

7) Scales

Goodwill Outlets will typically have more than one way to weigh your items.

There are two main types of scales you will encounter:

  1. Countertop Scale
  2. Roll-On Scale
Countertop Scale

The countertop scale is a scale on the counter used for small items. Some Outlets may have a small container that sits on top that will help hold your items while they are getting weighed.

Roll-On Scale

A roll-on scale is a large scale in the floor. With these you can wheel your cart right onto the scale. 

They will subtract the weight of the cart and charge you just for your items in the cart. It’s important that you have the correct cart (for which they know the weight) if you want to use this option. Keep reading for more about shopping carts.

Note: if you are going to be selling and shipping your things, you will want your own scale at home. This is one I recommend:

Last update on 2021-03-04 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

8) Shopping Carts

Every Outlet I’ve visited seems to have issues with carts.

Namely, lack of carts.

At a lot of Outlets, if you want a cart you have to get there early. Even then, you might not get a cart.

There are a couple of solutions for this.

  1. IKEA bags
  2. Foldable shopping cart
IKEA Bags

Bring your own IKEA bags. Since they don’t weigh much, you can use them for checking your items out. 

They are also handy for sorting as you shop (I recommend at least two) as well as carrying everything out to your car when you are done.

Thankfully, you don’t have to make a special trip to IKEA to get their bags. They can be purchased right from Amazon!

Last update on 2021-03-04 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Foldable Shopping Cart

The other option is to bring your own foldable shopping cart. If you don’t want to have to carry your bags around, this could be a great option for you.

Foldable shopping carts fold flat, but still take up some room. So make sure your vehicle is big enough to transport it.

Last update on 2021-03-04 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Finding the RIGHT cart

The other issue that comes up with shopping cart shortages, is that a lot of times the Goodwill Outlet will go and purchase additional carts.

While more shopping carts is a good thing, these carts have a different weight than their original carts and so you will not be able to use them on the roll-on scales.

When you frequent a particular Outlet, you will know which carts are the ones you can use on the roll-on scales. Otherwise you will need to ask an associate if the cart you got is okay for the scales.

 

9) Bathrooms

Unfortunately, a lot of Outlets also have problems with their bathrooms.

Because of this, a lot have closed their bathrooms to the public.

Here’s what you can do:

  • Limit liquids before hand. (I like to keep a bottle of water in the car for afterwards to re-hydrate).
  • Ask nicely if you really need to go. The couple of times I’ve had to do this (once for myself and once for my toddler), they haven’t turned me away.
  • Your state likely has Restroom Access Laws if you have a medical condition that requires bathroom access. You will most likely need to have a form filled out and signed by your physician and you will need to carry it with you.

10) Taking Your Stuff Home

Every Goodwill Outlet I’ve been to, does not provide bags for when you check out.

Some may have cardboard boxes near the register for you to use, but this may be hit or miss.

Once you’ve checked out, you will need to head out to your vehicle with all your things loose and load up.

If you don’t shop with IKEA bags, I recommend having boxes in your vehicle to keep your things neatly in your car. Again, I like at least two boxes so I can sort things before I get home.

I actually prefer three boxes:

  1. One for items I will be taking pictures of as “Flat Lays.”
  2. One for items that will be going on my mannequins.
  3. One for items that need washed and/or personal items. (I only wash what I have to before reselling).

11) Afterwards

When you are all done and loaded up, here are a few tips:

  • If you used the store’s shopping cart, return it to inside the store so that you will have a cart for next time (so it doesn’t get stolen!).
  • If bathrooms are available, wash your hands.
  • Keep hand sanitizer in the car and use it if bathrooms are unavailable.
  • Keep water in the car and make sure to re-hydrate after what may have been a bit of a work out.

(This is the water bottle I use. It keeps things hot – or cold – forever!)

Last update on 2021-03-04 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Where Are Goodwill Outlets Located?

Goodwill Outlets are located in all but 15 U.S. states.

You can go here to find the location nearest you. (Map will be half way down the page).

Even if you don’t have one near you, it may be worth it to travel. Many resellers travel 2-3 hours one way to spend the day collecting things to resell.

 

Reseller Bootcamp

If you are interested in turning your Goodwill Outlet finds into cash, I’ve put together a FREE 5-Day Course called “Reseller Bootcamp.”

You can sign up and get the course delivered straight to your inbox. In it you’ll learn:

  1. What kinds of items you can flip.
  2. The best places to sell to maximize your profits.
  3. 6 keys to taking professional looking photos.
  4. The 5 components to get your items sold.
  5. How to turn flipping into a steady and reliable income.
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