For this month’s Tuesday Night Thrift adventure, Nicole and I hit up the Goodwill store on 51st Avenue, one of my frequent haunts. Before I show you what I found, here are some things you need to know if you’ve never stopped into a Goodwill before, and want to give it a try:

• Goodwill organizes its store by categories; within each category by size; and within each size by colour. This is helpful if you have a set list of colours that you shop for (or, conversely, avoid).

• Most prices at Goodwill are standard, and determined by category. So, for example, in Edmonton (and Calgary) all dresses cost $7, all pants cost $8, etc. Some pieces are individually priced, but they are typically placed on separate racks. There is no rhyme and reason, in my experience, to what clothing Goodwill will price individually – hockey jerseys and 90s prom dresses being an exception. Bags and shoes (and household objects) are always priced individually.

• Every week, Goodwill has a “50% off colour tag” sale. The concept is simple: each item has a plastic coloured tag (or coloured sticker, in the case of things like shoes) attached to it. When it’s “50% off green tags” week, all items with green tags are … you guessed it, 50% off.

• Goodwill is a non-profit (unlike, for example, Value Village) which means, among other things, that you won’t get charged GST (sales tax) on your purchases.

• Goodwill does not give stamps or coupons for donations, but will do so for purchases. For every $25 you spend, you get a stamp; with 10 stamps, you can get $15 off any purchase of $25 or more. It’s not a huge discount, but considering the standard prices (and the weekly sale), Goodwill is still one of your best bets for getting the most value for your bucks.

Alright, enough talk: let’s look at my thrift spoils. Nicole and I were not keeping score, but I think I came away from our excursion pretty well … even though there was only one, solitary Anthro piece to be found, and I didn’t even end up getting it:

sleeping in snow jacket
sleeping in snow jacket
I talked someone else into trying it on, but I don’t think it was a winner for her either. Oh well. Moving on, I was super tempted by this Alice sweatshirt (official Disney swag, y’all) – my kids are currently obsessed with AiW, and I’m thrilled – but I decided to be generous and pass it on to Nicole.

Left: Disney; right: Madewell
Left: Disney; right: Madewell
I did get the Madewell sweater on the right (above). It’s forest green (colour palette, check!) and vaguely fisherman-y, and that’s my sweater catnip right there. It’s going to get a lot of wear this winter, especially on weekends, and I am debating having it replace one of the Vince sweaters I thrifted earlier this year, which has been something of a disappointment.

J Brand x 2
J Brand x 2
I also scored two pairs of medium-rise J. Brand skinny jeans. The regular medium wash (Utopia) pair replaces my old William Rast skinny jeans (too big). The teal pair (Riviera wash) is a substitute for the *grey* J. Brand skinnies I thrifted recently, only to decide after one wear that they were too big. I re-homed those with Nicole, which means that this pair is 100% guilt-free.

Rag & Bone sandals
Rag & Bone sandals
I was on the fence about these Rag & Bone wood wedge sandals, but my rubber arm was conveniently twisted and I bought them. I’ll have to decide next year if that was a good idea or not.

Rebecca Taylor top
Rebecca Taylor top

Funny story about this Rebecca Taylor top. I was loitering near the changing rooms, waiting for Nicole to finish trying on her finds, so I stopped to look at the “reject” rack nearby when – lo and behold – I found this. In my excitement, I went to show it to Nicole … who thought I was bringing it for her to try. The result was a hilariously awkward exchange, which Nicole insisted we recreate for the benefit of some of the other ladies who had joined us for Tuesday Night Thrift; check out her post to see/read all about it. Bottom line: this top had my name all over it. Sorry, Nicole! (I did make it up to her, don’t worry.) It will replace my old Rachel Roy floral top, whose print I still adore but which no longer fits very well.

vintage dress
vintage dress
Last but not least, the ladies talked me into buying this vintage velvet dress. It was on sale for $3.50 so I bought it mostly for a laugh. I know velvet is super on-trend right now, but I have traumatic memories from the 90s that prevent me from embracing its resurgence. However! I like the dropped shoulder details on this dress, and am telling myself it has a Vivienne Westwood vibe – hello, neo-classical aristo-quirk! There is a small hole at the bottom of the zipper in the back, which I will need to try to fix, but overall it’s in remarkably good condition – and it was made in Canada!

All in all, I spent just under $48 for all my loot. It goes without saying that these were all things I *absolutely* needed* (fresh out of everything, I am). You can stop laughing now, plz. All kidding aside, apart from the shoes and the dress, the other things I bought are quite practical and will replace/upgrade existing pieces in my closet … which is my story, and I’m sticking to it.

Stay tuned for an announcement about next month’s Tuesday Night Thrift — Nicole and I are working on something to make it extra fun.

Note: Chapter 10 of A Temporary Engagement is now up. Read it here.

9 Comments on Tales From the Thrift: October’s Tuesday Night Thrift

  1. I would have laughed at the velvet dress, too, but holy crap, it actually looks amazing on!! I would totally wear that on one of my fancy nights out. I love things that are just a bit over the top

  2. I wish my local Goodwill sorted by size! But we do get stamps for donations here that lead to 20% off a purchase!

    • I wish Goodwill here gave stamps for donations! As it is, I donate at Value Village where they give out 30% off coupons.

      My Goodwill sorts by size but only in the sense of Small, Medium, Large, XLarge. And sometimes, things can get misplaced. But it’s helpful.

  3. Ooh, I love that first jacket – I would not have been able to pass that up! Awesome re the jeans, and I love those sandals!

  4. Wow, your Goodwill sorts by size? Incredible. None of the Goodwills in Southwestern Ontario do that. Category and color only.

    There’s a large Goodwill in Sarnia that doesn’t sort by anything, other than tops and bottoms. I’ve never seriously browsed their racks because you’ll find an XL sweater next to a M button-down shirt next to an XS tank top, ad nauseum. It’s a horror-show. The first time I went there it was late at night and I just thought they’d had a busy day but every time I’ve returned it’s been the same.

    And we get tag sales maybe once every few months here. So far it sounds like Alberta has better Goodwills than Ontario.

    Also, I was never into Vince before but I just thrifted my first sweater. I was going to sell it on my eBay store and I tried it on to assess the fit and I fell in love. I literally live in it now. It’s pilled more in the past few days than some of the sweaters I’ve owned for years. It’s a wool/silk/cashmere blend, and it feels like I’m wearing clouds. Seriously stacked combination of materials there though. The Vince sweater I thrifted tonight is 100% cashmere and super itchy and not very flattering.

  5. I never comment, but I read you religiously since I’m a big thrifter myself. But that velvet dress is making me comment. WEAR IT. It’s amazing on you.

    • Aww, thank you! You know, it’s been really growing on me. I’m looking forward to finding the right opportunity to bust it out 😉