Seattle, WA

My Ultimate Goodwill Outlet Thrift Guide

Before my end-of August road trip, I went to the Seattle Goodwill Outlet for the first time and had quite THE EXPERIENCE. I shared about my experience and styling those thrifted pieces on my IG-Highlights, and a lot of you seemed to really love it.

So as requested, my long-await Ultimate Goodwill Outlet Thrift Guide is finally here. But before you dive in, simply do a Google search or click here to find out the closest Goodwill Outlet store nearby. After this blog post (if you’ve found it helpful and inviting, grab a friend and head out thrifting this weekend!

why thrift at Goodwill Outlets?

(but not at the normal Goodwill Retails)

blazer thrifted at the Seattle Goodwill Outlet for $1

my ultimate Goodwill Outlet thrift guide

  1. Be prepared to spend at least 2 hours or even an entire morning or afternoon: Time surely goes by fast if you’re really here for the bargains and determined to find cool things. Just don’t go if you don’t have time for it. I hate it when I see some people who are just here for a minute and pick up a few things on top of the piles with their two fingers. I’ve seen some people like that and am not sure why they are there.
  2. Bring gloves: Latex gloves would work just fine since you want to dig through the bins quickly each item at a time and each bin at a time. Bigger gloves will prevent you from going through thin and small items. I did NOT bring gloves and hated myself the entire time.
  3. Wear comfortable clothes that you don’t mind getting dirty and dusty in. I was sweating so much because all of the heaving lifting and pulling (talking about clothes and big pieces of linens that got in the way!). Don’t be surprised if you even find furniture and questionable things inside of the bins.
  4. Don’t carry your personal bag or if you do, keep it with you at all time. Also, watch your cart and make sure it’s within sight because chances are, people will start going through your cart. You cannot leave things on hold and leave it to go somewhere because it’s a Goodwill Outlet! In addition, the next thing you’d find is that you’ll be shopping next to homeless people or many kinds of people. You’ll just never know, so please be careful!
  5. Go early. The Seattle Goodwill Outlet is opened at 8 AM every day, so it’s best to arrive before they’re opened. I’ve heard there is always a line. Think people who do this for a living or who are in this seriously to make profits from it! You don’t want to miss out on finding good stuff by arriving here later in the day when there is eventually nothing good left. I’m unsure the exact time when Goodwill Outlet gets their new inventory in, but most people prefer to go in first to snag large items like bicycles, coolers, suitcases, large toys or household wares. I went at around 3 pm on a random weekday, and I still found some good stuff (well, it’s all subjective at the end of the day).
  6. Have a plan: Here is mine! I like designers, vintage pieces, or brands that I like. Things that are made in European countries like France or England tend to be better made and constructed, especially when it comes to blazers and outerwear. I am always on the hunt for vintage Levi’s jeans. Stuff made from 100% wool or silk is really special to me. I pick up one piece of clothing item at a time and move one bin at a time. I always scan for labels first, for brands, material composition, and where they are made in. Then I’d quickly look for NO stains, rips or visible damage. If an item meets all of those criteria within the first few seconds, I’d throw it in my cart and do the second or third inspection before the checkout. Remember you can always re-donate them if they don’t fit after you try them on at home.
  7. Bring a friend or put on your headphones: I always have fun and very much enjoy shopping by myself, but I think it would also have been so much fun to go with a friend. Anytime I’m out thrifting like this, music really helps me get in the zone and gets things done, so my advice is whatever you do, be mindful of the people around you! I’d occasionally look up to watch people, and it’s fun!
  8. Don’t come with an expectation to find anything in particular and things are not hung on hangers as many Goodwill Retail stores do. It, in fact, is a messy and filthy place! I repeat: it is GROSS here! My strategy is to stay focused on your favorite categories to help save time and energy: mines are clothes and knick-knacks, so they are just in the center bins. Many others are here for books, electronics, furniture or shoes, and they tend to have their own sections dedicated to it. I’d avoid the shoes 100% because they stink so badly!
  9. Bring a few reusable shopping or grocery bags to store your thrift finds at the end. The Seattle Goodwill Outlet that I went to did have a lot of these bags available near the cashier area, so I did end up grabbing a big one. *At the Seattle Goodwill Outlet location I went to, there were plenty of reusable bags available near the cashier section. But it’s always a safe thing to be more prepared than you think!
  10. Shower and wash all of the clothes immediately. I get weirdy itchy every time I go thrifting and trust me, it might be something in the air or bugs or whatever I don’t know. I always shower when I get home just to be safe. In addition, I also wash all of the clothes I’ve thrifted after going through the care instruction tag. For silk or wool, I’d suggest you steam it a few times or spots clean them. Take it to a tailor if you really love something and want to make it fit better on you or bring it to a dry clean to get rid of the thrift-store smell.

my experience shopping at the Seattle Goodwill Outlet

My first experience shopping at the Seattle Goodwill Outlet was quite interesting! I was overwhelmed and honestly shocked by how big the space inside was. There were quite a number of people at 3 pm when I got there! Unsure what to do first, I just walked around to check out what’s going on. I quickly realized no one cared who I was, I grabbed a cart like everybody else and started digging (yes, with my bare hands, and it was tough!).

Trust me, I had doubts that I could never find anything because I was such a picky shopper. After putting on my headphone and lots of patience after, I found one ‘cool’ thing after another (please refer back to my shopping criteria/plan above for ‘cool’ things). I remembered seeing a pair of Levi’s jeans, some yellow pleated shorts, and a lot more cool things but had to put a lot back because they wouldn’t fit me properly or there were flaws.

about this blazer and this outfit:

I am not sure the exact brand of this blazer. All I find are one label that had ‘A Hardy Amies Design. Tailored by Hepworths.’ on one side of the lining and ‘Guaranteed all wool. Made in England.’ on the other side. There are also two small tags inside the lining pocket with serial numbers of what looks like a customized piece with a size 42. Pretty sure this is a vintage men’s blazer because of the large vertical stripes and its dedicated sizing.

According to my experience, I do know that men’s blazers will either fit super large or run super long on me. I have never found or tried on anything from men’s that is perfectly oversized and flattering on me! As much as I love the idea of thrifting to find an ‘oversized’ vintage men’s blazer like this account or this account I follow on Instagram because they make them look so cool in photos. Trust me, as a fashion blogger myself who know exactly what it takes to create or shoot those images, things are not as what it seems!

For Instagram aesthetic, it really is all about the angle, not much about the styling or editing. Do you notice that they barely photograph the length of these blazers but they’d rather crop the photos to show just the clean lines or closed-up shots? I would not walk around Seattle wearing such huge blazers because they actually look ridiculous on! But anyway, because this blazer is a customized piece, its length someway somehow looks good on me. I’ve styled it with biker shorts and my new pair of Nike Air Force 1, pretty often seen on Instagram, I have to admit except the part that I don’t have any vintage baguette styled Fendy bag! Lastly, I wish it was a solid color, but hey, for $1 it’s an amazing find!!!

OUTFIT DETAILS:

blazer: thrifted at the Seattle Goodwill Outlet | cycling shorts: GIRLFRIEND COLLECTIVE | crop top: BRANDY MELVILLE | bag: STAUD | watch: ROSEFIELD (gifted) | sneakers: Nike Air Force 1 Low Sage

final thoughts:

My first trip to the Seattle Goodwill Outlet is THE EXPERIENCE on itself that I will never forget! Besides scoring so many good finds for such little money, it also makes me feel good that I help to get fewer clothes going in landfills or go to waste. It’s one of the most sustainable ways to do fashion definitely, and I enjoy it more and more every time. Things are not all butterflies as there will be days when you walk out with nothing. But if you have a few hours and run out of ideas on what to do, head to your nearest thrift shop ’cause you will never know!

I really hope that this blog post is helpful and that it inspires you to go out there ‘sorting the bins’. I think the Goodwill Outlets are way better and cheaper than the regular Goodwill Retail stores. I’d 100% do it again! However, regardless of how cheap things are here, please make sure to not buy things just cause because you don’t want to create waste by hauling too many unnecessary things either. Just take what you like and need, always!

Comment below how you think I have done from my very first trip to the Seattle Goodwill Outlet. Have you shopped at a Goodwill Outlet before?

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An Trieu

Currently based in Seattle, Style & Senses is my digital life and style journal of all things that inspire my senses and beyond. Hope you stay inspired, as always! - An Trieu.

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