Best Day to Shop at Goodwill and Other Thrift Stores

  • by Reba Collins
Best Day to Shop at Goodwill and Other Thrift Stores

For the last few years my husband and I have been visiting thrift stores multiple times each week to find items to resell. We’ve become “regulars” at Goodwill and other thrift stores and have paid attention to how things work at these outlets.

What is the best day to go to Goodwill? To get the best items at Goodwill many say to go early on Monday because people drop off their donations on weekends after clearing closets or having a garage sale. Unless you’re shopping for furniture or large items, which they put on the floor right away, it really doesn’t matter what time you shop. When shopping for clothing, there is no best day or time to do your thrift shopping. Thrift stores get so many clothing donations that they can’t keep up and the donations tend to get stacked up in their backroom donation area. The employees continuously work to hang and place items on the floor. The shopping area is continuously getting new items, the day or time you shop is of no real consequence.

If you live in a small town or remote area where the Goodwill store near you is the only one in a large radius, this may not hold true. The smaller stores tend to get less donations, thus they have less to put on the floor. They may be able to get all the new donations from Sunday out on Monday morning. In this case, knowing how your Goodwill operates can greatly help you know when the best time to shop will be.

Getting to know the manager and employees can be beneficial. Ask the cashier or floor clerks what days and times are best for shopping. Even peeking into the backroom donation area can give you a lot of information. Do they have clothes stacked to the ceiling or is the room relatively empty?

What day is REALLY the “best day” to go to Goodwill?

Since we only shop for clothing and live in a huge city, we don’t think twice about when to go thrifting other than when the specials run. We like to get the best deals, so we only go when 50% off deals are offered. And that’s not just for Goodwill, we apply that rule to all the thrift stores where we shop unless their regular prices are super low and they never offer 50% off.

Goodwill stores across the nation are all operated individually. We live in Houston and our stores are operated by Goodwill of Houston. Because each group is autonomous, you will find stores in different cities operate with different daily sales and specials. We find that even going to another city in Texas gives us a totally different experience.

For the longest time, our Goodwill stores offered a color of the week and each day there was a different percentage off that color.  Tuesday-Thursday was 25% off, Friday-Sunday was 50% off, and Monday was 75% off. They also offered 25% off everything for seniors, teachers, military, and first responder on Wednesdays. That has now changed.

Now they give 25% off Sunday-Tuesday and 50% off Wednesday-Saturday for the color of the week. And they’ve removed the senior, teacher, military, and first responder discount.

The discounts offered are by locale, so you’ll have to check with your local Goodwill to know exactly what discounts are offered where you live. Then, if discounts matter to you, you can choose your day by the discount offered.

What time should I go to Goodwill to get the best deals?

What time is best is subjective as well, however, we find the stores to be less crowded when they first open. Again, since we only buy clothing, the day and time really doesn’t matter. As long as we have the opportunity to get the discount we want, we’d just prefer to go when the store has less shoppers. But, even though we like shopping with less crowds, you can often find us thrifting on the weekend when it’s the most crowded.

What days and times should I go to other thrift stores?

The smaller independent thrift stores operate more like the small Goodwill stores found in more remote areas. Even though we’re in Houston, the independent stores don’t get as many donations. So, following that most donations are done on the weekend, Monday afternoon may be the best day to go. However, again, you need to know how each store operates. Many small stores are church based and closed on Sundays. So maybe those stores get most their donations on Monday. Also, many only accept donations on certain days, you’ll need to find out what those days are.

Over that last year or so, we find going to thrift stores other than Goodwill is working out better for us. Each local independent store has its own days and times for the 50% off specials. We keep a whiteboard on the wall to remind us of what specials are on which days.

If you shop on the best discount day like us, you will want to find out their discount schedule.

What if you’re looking for the most stylish items?

If you’re looking to find the most stylish clothing items, you probably don’t care about getting the best discount. At Goodwill, the discount is done by a colored barb stuck through the clothing. We look for the color of the week. That’s not what you’ll want to do.

You will need to look for the new racks coming out of the backroom donation area. I find that they come out periodically throughout the time we’re in the store. The bigger the store, the more often they come out. Some stores stage them in a wide aisle allowing shoppers to go through them before they put them on the regular racks. Doing this helps deplete the number of items the employees have to put away. At some stores the racks are quite tight.

This practice is great for those wanting to see what’s new and it’s where the best brands can be found.  Take note of the color barb of the new items as there are always a ton of new items already on the racks. If you see a large group of the new color on the regular racks, go through it as those items were just recently put there.

What if you’re looking for something specific?

If you’re looking for something specific, finding that one item is going to be a challenge. You have no control over what the thrift store will have, and even if you find it, it might not be in your size. It’s best to have an idea and then go thrifting with an open mind. Be willing to take other items that are like what you want or even totally different but will still work for your occasion.

Remember, you not only need to find the item in your size, but you need to make sure it’s in good condition since not all items at thrift stores are perfect.

If you are determined to find a specific item, be sure to give yourself a good lead time to find it. Go to many different thrift stores and be super patient. Lastly, if you don’t find it, don’t be too hard on yourself, just resign to the fact that it couldn’t be found.

Don’t Overthink It

Whatever day and time you decide to go thrifting will be a good time. Maybe that day will be a good day and you’ll find a ton of items or maybe it won’t, you can always try again on another day.

Don’t hesitate to take thrifting trips and try Goodwill stores and other thrift shops in other towns. Making a day of thrifting a event with friends or a family member can be a really fun way to spend a day.

Whatever you do, be sure to make it fun. Don’t overthink it, and always remember, there will be different items the next time you go!

What do you find is the best day to shop at Goodwill? Let me know in the comments.

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