Sunday, July 31, 2011

Outlet and About

My trip to the Goodwill Outlet store was very interesting, to say the least. Since least is not what I want to convey, I will go into detail.

This was my first time going to an outlet store of this nature and it was far from what I had expected. I'm not quite sure what I had expected, though, but this was far from it. First of all, if you've never been to one of these stores, let me explain how it all works. There is a gigantic open floor with some items (TVs, couches, dressers, etc.) on one side and on the back wall. In the middle there are huge plastic bins on rollers, or wheels, if you prefer fancy talk. Bolted to the floor are small bumpers which enable the Goodwill employees to situate the bins into perfect position and, obviously, to keep them in place while people browse. Here is where the excitement happens. Every two hours, on the odd hour, the employees pull all of the bins to the back and switch them out with all new bins. At this point, it gets pretty intense, in a Pavlovian sense.

I noticed most people lined up where the shoe bins were about to be placed. Apparently, people love dirty old shoes. So, they roll the carts out and then it's a free-for-all. At this point, I could already tell who was new to the experience simply by the fact that they did not have a cart. I did not have a cart. You see, everything is sold by the pound. From the Goodwill Indy website:

Clothing, housewares, books, toys, DVDs and CDs: 69 cents per pound.
Glass: 49 cents per pound.
Paired shoes: 99 cents per pound.

As you may have guessed, that is cheap! I mean how much can a DVD actually weigh? So, back to this free-for-all. Just as I could tell who was inexperienced, it was easy to tell who had played this game before. Gloves. These people were serious and the bins really were dirty and dusty. After watching for a few minutes I decided to start browsing myself. It's a little crazy. You'll be digging through some items and then shit will just start flying from every direction as people are trying to discard what they don't want as they dig deeper. I was examining a copy of Heart's "Dreamboat Annie" and a fuckin' purple dinosaur (not Barney) went whizzing right by my hands. Again, these people are serious... or maybe just rude. Probably a combination of both. Either way, it is a feeding-frenzy type of atmosphere and quite something to behold in person.

Here's the kicker: 95% of the items were pure dogshit. Right away I could tell that most of the merchandise had to be the stuff that didn't sell at other Goodwills because they still had the colored tags on them... err, I mean tags of color. Even the furniture items weren't in the best shape. Then again, you can't really argue with an $11.99 couch. Finding a t-shirt, let alone a vintage shirt, was simply impossible. I think I only saw about eight adult-sized t-shirts in all of the bins combined. That is not to say that there was a lack of clothing. Every other bin was filled with clothes. People, and families, literally had multiple carts overflowing with clothes. Then I started to realize something.

Most of the shoppers seemed to be from low-income families. Of course, it's not good to make assumptions, but when a teenage girl is buying her bras from a dirty old bin in a warehouse, she's probably not rich. This was definitely not a hipster shopping spot. In that sense, the store is really, really great. I grew up "food stamp poor," so I know what it's like to not have cool clothes. Though, I did have a pretty sweet Dukes of Hazzard shirt and my brother had an awesome Fonzie ringer. Point being, it's good that families can spend small amounts of money and provide clothing for their kids. It was also pretty obvious that people were spending their whole Sunday there, waiting for every bin change.

Now, about the 5% of stuff that is not dogshit: I did meet a picker named Mike. I had noticed a guy, with his own family in tow, and all of their carts were full of vintage board games. Yes! I struck up a conversation with him and it turned out that he comes to the outlet store often to pick board games and sell them on E Bay. Since the merchandise changes every two hours, I imagine if you lived close by, the store would be excellent for that kind of shopping. Other than that, I didn't see too many worthwhile items, sans the guy who scored a guitar. Can you imagine paying for a guitar by the pound? At 69 cents a pound to boot. I also found a 1962 Superman comic book, but the cover was missing. I don't think there is much of a market for comics with no covers.

Overall, I'm not really sure if I'd go back. I think if I went with a group of people it might be fun, just for the experience. However, you would definitely have to stay through two bin changes to make it worthwhile. Two hours isn't that bad, if you think about it.

After that, I went to the regular Goodwill that was a couple blocks away and scored this, oh-so-funny, vintage tee:

This baby is nice and soft and has the early to mid-'80s Screen Stars tag.

Mr. Natural Gas is going to Maria's shop. By the way, that Bloomington, Minnesota shirt sold in less than a day. Maybe someone thought it said Bloomington, Indiana.

No comments:

Post a Comment