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IAmA Goodwill Employee Ask Me Anything!

Aug 23rd 2014 by Garrod_Girl • 37 Questions • 284 Points

I've been working at Goodwill for about 3 weeks now. I do everything from cashier to receiving donations to pricing.

Proof: http://imgur.com/gallery/eTk1rvD/new

EDIT: Thanks to everyone who asked questions. It was super fun to hear from all of you! :) Hope I answered all your questions as well as I could have.

Q:

How do you come up with the prices? I've seen some things both ridiculously over and under priced....

A:

All clothes and linens (bedsheets, table cloths, etc..) have set prices, as do books and CDs and the like. What we call "hardgoods" (plates, cups, and all the other random stuff on the shelves) do not, generally have set price guides. Those items are left up to the employees to price. I, too have seen things priced incorrectly. Those items are often taken out and repriced.


Q:

This is interesting. I frequently go to GoodWill and Salvation Army stores and have seen the most ridiculous prices on junky looking stuff. There's a store in Orlando that has such high prices that I could buy the item brand new somewhere else. The furniture prices are absurdly high.

A:

We sold a table with a set of 6 chairs for 20 bucks a few days ago.


Q:

I've saw with my own eyes at a local Goodwill store attempting to sell an empty CD spindle for $5. I've seen plenty of items(especially games) being sold for more than what you could go on to Amazon and pay for the item plus shipping for less of a price. I'm not saying it's always like there, because I know for a fact you can get some really good deals if you browse around enough. There are about 4 Goodwills in about a 20 mile radius. One of which I refuse to ever go to because of how expensive everything is. I drive by it every so often. At first I went to browse, after a while I went to laugh. Eventually I stopped going.

A:

I've seen those at my store, too. Not for 5 dollars, mind you. Some people are desperate to make their production numbers, so they put out anything they can. I tend to avoid pricing that kind of stuff.


Q:

What happens to all the toys? I've donated tons of toys to my local goodwill and have never seen any on the sales floor.

A:

It could be that they have been shipped out to another store elsewhere.


Q:

Do you work at the Topsham one? I was blown away by how nice it is compared to others I've seen.

A:

I work at the Ellsworth store


Q:

unfortunately it didn't fit me, but a friend of mine did end up buying it. being a 36r makes suit shopping at goodwill roughly as useful for me as shopping in a big & tall.

A:

Wow. Well, that certainly is shocking. I've never seen anything like that at any point at this store, but in some bigger cities, I imagine it happens quite often.


Q:

What's the sketchiest/strangest item you've received?

A:

We seem to get a lot of used underwear, but the sketchiest was a teapot filled with a mysterious white, watery substance. We chucked it immediately. Everyone had their suspicions about what was in it, but nobody wanted to say. Another sketchy one was someone who tried to donate an old grody looking mattress.


Q:

Where does the other 10% of the stuff come from?

A:

We get in what we call "New Goods" which is the stuff like the packaged socks and new jewelry and shoes you see in the store.


Q:

It wouldn't matter to me if the clothes were washed or not. I would still wash them.

A:

XD I really wish we washed the clothes. Other than time, I don't know what the issue would be. Do you work at a production facility store or just a store-store?


Q:

LOL. A store store. Heres some proof. http://imgur.com/V3biSbL I work under the GICW branch which seems to be WAYYYYY different from yours, its interesting! (You were talking about 1 day to buy items, our policy is 3. The way pricing goes seems odd!) IDK!

A:

It's the best I could think of! How does the pricing work in your store?


Q:

People are trained pricers they have to research brands and such and should know approximate prices we take those and cut them in half (usually lower than half). Say a new pair of Nike frees came in. Retail they are $80-90 at the store we sell them for $30-40. Brands that are unknown are researched and than priced appropriately.

A:

Wow. Yeah, that is way different. Sounds super efficient, though!


Q:

I still cant get over the fact that clothing isn't washed though. Lol that upsets me cause YUCKY! We also don't take beds/bedframes. Owelll nice meeting a fellow goodwill employee

A:

We don't take mattresses, but we do take bedframes if they are in good condition


Q:

I still cant get over the fact that clothing isn't washed though. Lol that upsets me cause YUCKY! We also don't take beds/bedframes. Owelll nice meeting a fellow goodwill employee

A:

Thank you! It's been great talking to everyone. Sorry to gross you out!


Q:

How often do you keep things for yourself? The best?

A:

haha! I get this a lot from customers. Everything that comes into the store goes right out to the sales floor or onto the truck. There are some employees, I'm sure, that hide items for later somewhere in the store. Of course, we get a good look at everything that goes out, but the company policy is that an employee must wait 24 hours to buy an item after it has been put on the floor.


Q:

How long does it take for, say, an average jacket to sell? And how often does the store completely refresh inventory?

A:

It depends on how busy the day has been, but generally within 2-3 days. We use different coloured barbs and stickers and every week we pull a certain colour and send it out on a truck. I would say it takes about 4-5 weeks for everything in the store to be new.


Q:

I typically buy old video games from Goodwill (NES, SNES, etc.), but lately these games have went from $3 to around $8 a piece, even for the really crappy games. My question is, who's the genius behind some of these ridiculous prices?

A:

Whoever gets them first in production gets to price them.


Q:

I went in the other day and some speakers and receivers caught my eye. Are these products tested? Are they guaranteed to work? If it didnt, could I bring it back?

A:

The majority of the electronics are tested, yes. I had the privilege of trying out some electric hedge trimmers yesterday. They are not necessarily guaranteed to work, however. And, yes. If it doesn't work, you can bring it back for a refund.


Q:

How does the pricing work on non-clothes/cds/books items? Does someone run everything through ebay? Or is it just too big a flow to stop and think?

A:

There is a list of high-price items that we check every week for things to send off elsewhere. However, many things often slip through because it would take far too long to check every item online and that's where people find good deals. There are always antiques that slip through, too, because not everyone realises/knows what they are.


Q:

Do you have a particular type of item you keep an eye out for personally?

A:

Any sort of Star Wars or Doctor Who stuff, usually. I also look out for clothes that I like. It's hard to put out so many cool things and not do a little window shopping as you go along!


Q:

Do they treat the workers ok? It seems like a hard job, especially dealing with a ton of slightly odd people/customers, but the ones I frequent seem to have low staff turnover.

A:

I can't even begin to tell you how amazing my managers are. Everyone gets along very well at my store. The next-newest employee, aside from myself, has been working here for 7 months, so people tend to stick around. My starting wage was $9.15 an hour, so that tends to convince people to stay ;D Even with the stress and strange customers, it makes it all worthwhile to have a different experience every day.


Q:

That's good to hear. I love popping in to the stores near me. It's like a 7 day a week yard sale. I donate a lot of stuff too. Gotta keep the stuff flowing.

A:

I agree. I grew up with a family that's crazy about yard-saleing, so this is a great treat for them. And I'm glad to hear you donate! Thanks for your support! :D


Q:

I am eternally grateful for the $400 Italian espresso maker that I got for $7.99.

A:

Perfect example of finding a great bargain XD That sounds like quite the find!


Q:

Any tips on finding cool stuff? Are any of the prices negotiable? Like can i offer a litle less if i think its not worth the listed price?

A:

I guess the best tip would have to be come in every day XD The best things tend to go fast. The prices can be negotiable depending on why you'd like them to be changed. Another big factor in my store is the manager you ask about a price change.


Q:

Ever encounter any bed bug related issues?

A:

No bedbugs as of yet. And, thankfully, no fleas. We have had earwigs (I hate these things with a passion!) and we had one cockroach, which was quickly squished by one of the braver managers (he was the only male working that night, so he came to our rescue haha).


Q:

Don't squish! You can actually spread the eggs around further if its a pregnant one. Trap and flush!

A:

Ewww Wish I had known that earlier!


Q:

What's the worst, most disgusting thing you've had happen in your store?

A:

Let's just say, no-one wanted bathroom duty that day...


Q:

How often do you get old games and systems? r/gaming seems to regularly have great find posts

A:

It all depends on what we get for donations. I've sold 3 PS1s, a Wii, a PS2, a few XBox games, and one copy of Star Fox.


Q:

I work management at the Central Indiana Goodwill's. My question, do you or how often do you have 50% off sales?

A:

We have 50% off sales every day. Each week, we have a certain coloured barb or sticker that is half-off.


Q:

Do you happen to have a sale devoted to everything being on sale?

The GICI have a sale the first Saturday of every month in which everything, minus items the store buys, is half off. Just curious if Maine has a similar sale.

A:

Woah, that's awesome! But, no, we just go by the colour system for sales.


Q:

Is there an "average" GW customer?

A:

There are regulars, if that's what you're asking about. They're they ones who come in every day and buy stuff.


Q:

do you realize that sometimes you guys get 200 dollar+ golf clubs, and sell them for 3 dollars? thank you very much for allowing me to get 2 callaway drivers, 1 big bertha and one x2, both in excellent condition, and a fair number of other serious clubs for under 20 dollars.

A:

Actually, I believe there are some golf clubs in my store now. Not sure what brand, though. This happens because we either don't know how much they're really worth, or because we're not sure, so they go for cheap.


Q:

I got a couple of RennFaire shirts and a jean jacket for some River Cosplay doing this. :D

A:

Still looking for stuff like that. Halloween is always great at Goodwill


Q:

When it comes to jewelry, do you look for gold and silver if so do you test them or send it out? And as far as other noticeably high dollar items do they get sent out?

When does something get selected to go on goodwill auctions.com?

A:

We don't often get jewelry in donations where I work. What does come in is sent off to be sold elsewhere. I'm not sure what goes on goodwill auctions or how. My best guess is that it would be high price items on our watch list. Those are generally sold online.


Q:

I assume coins would be on the watchlist as well .. What other items are on the list?

A:

Certain hand bags, Beatles records, some TV shows (if they're in boxsets). For some reason, Cabbage Patch Kids are on the watch list O.o There are four or five pages of things that are to be sold online. It's constantly being updated, too.


Q:

I never find any Boy scouting or camping equipment at any of our local Goodwill stores. I have to believe that these items are being donated. Where are they?

A:

We had 2 pup tents brought in at one point. There seem to be a lot of canvas canteens coming in as well. As with any Goodwill store, it all depends on the donations that people bring in.


Q:

has mackelmore boosted sales?

A:

I'm sure he has. And you can stretch 20 dollars pretty far at Goodwill.


Q:

What's the best way to get bedbugs?

A:

1-star hotels? XD