The only Goodwill that I’ve known of in Atlanta is pretty far from my apartment. I went there once last summer when I was unemployed and seeking adventures to fill my time. It was a pretty good thrift store, but its distance made it impractical to visit very often. So imagine my excitement when I spotted a sign on the way home from running a work errand saying “Goodwill opening soon!” At only 3-ish miles from my apartment, this new location would be much more convenient for me.

Goodwill is one of those places that is somewhat of an enigma to me. Even after reading their website, I’m not entirely sure what they do, though it’s clear they provide employment and job-hunting services. And their thrift stores are at the heart of that.

Andy and I went and checked out the new location this past Saturday. I was a little wary of shopping at a thrift store that had just recently opened–would they have any stock in yet? Well, that question was answered as soon as we walked in the door: yes! Even the parking lot was bustling. The store was a big, open warehouse with well-define sections. The racks were extremely full! I don’t know whether they transferred items from some of their other locations or if all of this had been donated prior to opening this store, but either way I was impressed.

When arranging clothes, there seems to be a trend toward organizing by color. I love this in general (I keep my own closet set up that way), but I’d prefer if the clothes were then arranged by size within each color. Goodwill has the color system down pat, but it’s tough to browse because you have no idea what size anything is, and sometimes it’s hard to find the label due to how it’s hung. You have to really be willing to hunt in order to find anything. My tactic is usually just to scan the racks and see if any particular color or fabric jumps out at me. If it does, I then dive in and look for sizes. Despite this minor annoyance, I did manage to find a cute dress! It’s a bright blue, sleeveless jersey dress with florettes on the bodice. I think it will be super comfortable and easy to throw on for work in the warm weather. I was impressed with the selection of brands and the quality of most of the items. In the mens’ jeans section, I saw lots of Gap, Levi’s, and the likes that were in great condition, which is unusual for used men’s clothing. Of course, you have the odd 80s style dress or polo shirt thrown in the mix, but all in all, I’d say the stock was pretty current. (I think at thrift stores that has a lot to do with what demographic is donating, i.e. the neighborhood where the store is and who it’s run by.)

I also found a couple of books, which surprised me. I usually shy away from books at thrift stores because there is no organizational system whatsoever. I can’t blame them–it would take a volunteer or staff person wholly dedicated to the books to keep them arranged. But since I was on an exploratory mission of the new store I took a glance, and 2 that have been on my “to-read” list happened to jump out at me! I snagged paperback copies of Rick Warren’s The Purpose Driven Life and Tracy Kidder’s Mountains Beyond Mountains for $1.50 each.

My final observation of this store, though, was that the pricing seemed a bit off. My dress, which from what I can ascertain is a moderately priced department store designer brand, was only $5.99, which is a great deal. The books, at $1.50, were on the high end of what I would pay for a paperback (though I snatched them up because that’s still far cheaper than buying the Kindle version). And then some of the housewares seemed exorbitant! I could have found new versions of some of the things at Home Goods or Marshall’s for what they were asking. I’m all for charging what things are worth if they’re a high-end brand or in particularly good condition, but nothing I picked up seemed that to me. I didn’t get a good feel for the pricing scale they use, since it seemed like there was such a wide range. But either way, if you’re in Atlanta and in the mood to dig, I’d recommend checking out the new Goodwill on Northside Drive. You’re bound to find something that catches your eye!

Laura Lindeman

Laura Lindeman