As I walked through the sliding glass doors of the Goodwill Outlet-North, I was taken aback by all of the movement happening throughout the store Goodwill employees were working hard to rotate the large, blue bins out onto the floor — a process that happens every hour. Customers shopped around the employees, seamlessly moving from bin to bin, as any outlet veteran would. Some shoppers parked up against the outlet walls, protecting full carts as they waited on family members and friends who were still browsing.
While I settled into the new environment, I thought about how different the outlets are from the traditional Goodwill stores. Outlets differ from the stores because there are no shelves or clothing racks. Instead, items are sorted into multiple bins spread across the sales floor, and items are also purchased and paid for by the pound, instead of by set tag prices.
At first glance, it seemed as though the bins had no order, but I quickly noticed a pattern as I walked around the aisles. The bins are organized into clothing, housewares, books and miscellaneous items. Outside of the aisles, large furniture pieces stand next to a glass display case showcasing name brand shoes, purses and electronics.
Taking all of this in, I decided to start my shopping adventure. Other shoppers flew around me, quickly filling their carts with items before I could even sort through a small section of the bin. Despite their eagerness, all of the customers were friendly and left room for shoppers like myself to browse. Some customers even pushed items toward me thinking that I might find them interesting.
Many things caught my eye while I shopped at the Outlet. As I browsed, I thought of ways that the different objects could be used. Someone had donated a large metal container full of gently used crayons. I thought about how it would be a great purchase for a teacher searching for classroom art supplies. Unable to think of a use for myself, I left the brightly colored crayons for someone else to find and cherish.
Inspired by the art find, I continued to shop for items that I could potentially turn into a DIY project. I came across a pile of records and began to shuffle through the titles. As a University of Kentucky student, I chuckled when I came across a ‘Christmas Eve with Colonel Sanders’ album. I decided to purchase it and take it back to school, in hopes that other students would get a kick out of seeing the icon’s face on a record.
I picked up a few other albums as I shopped. Though I don’t own a record player, I bought the vinyl records to paint and hang up in my dorm room. I also found a small dish that I plan to paint and use as a ring holder as well.
After spending an hour exploring what the outlet had to offer, I learned a lot. Visiting the outlets provides a one of a kind shopping experience. It can be a bit overwhelming at first, but it is definitely something I would encourage everyone to try at least once. Bargains are sprinkled throughout the store. You never know what you might find lurking in those big, blue bins.