Saturday, June 1, 2013

Confessions of a Goodwill Shopper

Everyone has their own opinion of Goodwill Industries. Here's mine:

3 years ago, my grandmother, who has since passed away, began giving me various kitchen items. Pyrex, Fire King, Hazel Atlas, etc.

While researching these new-to-me items, I remembered various things my other grandmother used to use. I identified some dishes I had already inherited, and practically in the blink of an eye I was hooked on vintage kitchen stuff.

For the first time in my adult life, I began stalking thrift stores. I started visiting the ones I already knew about and found several new ones, such as Habitat for Humanity ReStore (Definitely my favorite of all to both buy from and donate to).

What I wanted was Pyrex, and lots of it. I discovered Pyrex Love, the flickr group, and a cool blog called Out Thrifting that was talking about the exact same things my grandmother gave me and was finding more of at the thrift store.


At the time, I could buy a Pyrex teacup or mug for 29-59 cents apiece. I bought colored Pyrex bowls & dishes for anywhere between 59 cents to $1.99. I bought a vintage rose Fiesta teacup for .19

I went overboard. Now, I wasn't exactly finding mixing bowls and dream pieces for these prices. Mostly it was stuff I really, really didn't need. Like Corelle in Pyrex patterns, Pyrex tableware/restaurant ware. Some Fire King & Hazel Atlas mugs. Miscellaneous Glasbake.

In other words, anything with that "Milk glass" look that was decorated in a kitchy way.

I had no outlet yet for the overload, so I actually donated most of it back.

Yep. Only it was typically bought from Goodwill but donated back to the ReStore.

Now, I kept plenty. I just bought lots of crap. Overeager beginning collector syndrome. And I've seen enough of the same thing from various thrifting blogs to know I am not the only one who goes overboard. :-)

For maybe a year, this is how it goes. Then, almost suddenly, no Pyrex anywhere.

I thought, "Oh no! They've caught on to it being a collectible!" I still kept hitting the thrifts, but nothing, nada. Once in a blue moon I'd find something at one of the non-Goodwill, church-based thrifts.

I also discovered For a good long while I was pretty happy that I could bid on things I had never seen locally. For my Pyrex fix I've bought a set of the gray banded dinnerware, the larger sized pink gooseberry casserole dishes (the 480 Cinderella casserole set) & that same set in "Friendship" with the decorated lids. I bought almost 2 sets worth of pink mixing bowls and refrigerator dishes, and the complete set of "Snowflake Blue" refrigerator dishes with lids.

I know that sounds like a lot, but spread out over two years, it's not so much. And also, I've never, even once, bought anything from ebay. So I still don't consider myself much of an online shopper.

Anyways, in the rare times now that I find pretty much anything vintage, it's priced crazy high. The glory days of finding Fire King mugs for less than a dollar are long gone, it seems.

But the reason I'm writing this post today is because I realize how defeated I feel. And it's not just prices that's doing it.

Out of habit, I searched shopgoodwill for Pyrex earlier today. Instead of being interested in what I was seeing, I felt sad. Every one of those auctions are Pyrex pieces that I think should be sitting on a store shelf, just waiting for a cute little blogger like me (Haha!) to buy it, clean it up, love it, blog about it. Instagram it. All that.

It's a local piece that came out of someones home. The original owner may not be with us any more. I think it deserves a chance to stay in the area and go to another local person. I know that may not ultimately be its fate, but it stands a lot less of a chance when it's being presented to a global audience, to whomever is willing to shell out the most $$$

I'm thoroughly sick of online. It's only online because it makes them more money. And does anyone know where exactly that money goes?! Cause I sure don't. I think they think that paying their employees is their charitable deed. But by that logic, Walmart is a charity. Target is a charity.


I hate how ugly my emotions get when I think about it all. I'm at that point where I feel that a part of me is saying that I don't want to shop at Goodwill anymore, because I don't want to give them any more of my money.

The other part of me is a real shopping addict that doesn't know if I can give it up! Even when I practically HATE Goodwill some days.

There have been many occasions where I've felt like what I buy is being inspected, so they can mark it up next time. I've been asked by a cashier if I'm a dealer, and I basically said "No, I'm just a hoarder." LOL!

Frankly, I don't think it's anyone elses business! AND when I buy something from the thrift store and resell it, I only resell locally. So I'm at least as good as my opinion that a local item deserves at least the chance to stay local.

And whether you like it or not, vintage is just the thing these days. Before the economy tanked, house-flipping was the side hustle of choice. Now it's flea market flipping. It's American pickers. The tides will turn when there are more opportunities to seemingly make more money in an easier way.

So, no, I don't think vintage is going to be as hot a few years from now. But by then, all the good stuff might have been auctioned off to the highest bidder in Japan, where they seem to have more of an appreciation for vintage glassware!

And as for the future of Goodwill, well, I don't think it's very bright either. I don't know that I believe thrift stores as a whole can even survive. Too much disposable crap that isn't really resellable. I think in general, thrift stores are going to basically become used clothing stores with progressively tinier sections for everything else.

I go back to Goodwill and will continue to go back because I'm a gambler. I play the odds, I lose money sometimes, and sometimes I win big. I have enough small wins to keep the hunger alive.

Intermittent reinforcement. It's a hell of a drug. lol!

Thoughts? Do you have a thrift chain you just love to hate?

Happy Thrifting! ;-)


  1. I am a new collector of fire king, milk glass, and other vintage kitchen stuff and my new go-to place is estate sales. Yes, you'll pay more than we all used to at Goodwill, but considerably less than at antique stores, flea markets, or ebay. In fact, I keep seeing local pickers and vintage store owners from my town at the same estate sales I go to ... so I know that's where they get their supply!

    1. That's good advice. Unfortunately I live in a rural area. Not many estate sales without having to drive 20-30 minutes out of town. And the competition from dealers in pretty stiff.

      Around here, yard sales are more prime pickin's, but my schedule doesn't permit it. I have zero time available on Fridays & Saturdays to get to estate sales, yard sales, flea markets, etc. which is why I'm basically a thrift store girl.

      Thanks for the comment & good luck with your new collection!

  2. YES! I am right there with you hun! I have been collecting about 4 years now and got started the same way hitting thrifts, and finding treasures to clean up and love. Nowadays though I can't ever find much on a thrift store shelf and and tired of having to pay shipping any time I want a piece. I wish the local stores would stop sending the pyrex to goodwill online so we could support our local goodwills and our own communities!!!!