The “Good” in Goodwill

Have you ever seen the pictures of a child in a third world country and wondered how that little boy got the Ohio State t-shirt he is wearing?  I mean, did he visit the OSU?  Did someone from Columbus visit him?  Is he a huge fan of the Buckeyes? Chances are none of the above.  Little did you know when you cleaned out your teenage son’s closet last summer your short trip to Goodwill was the beginning of a long trip for that t-shirt.


What happens to that stuff that travels from the trunk of your car to the waiting bin at Goodwill stores? Does Goodwill sell everything you bring to the big bins?   Actually, almost.


Goodwill’s corporate data says that an impressive 82% of what is dropped at a Goodwill Retail Stores ends up on their shelves or on-line and is sold.  Every item pulled from those cardboard boxes is touched and sorted by employees.  Wearable clothing (not stained, damaged, or mildewed) is hung on store racks for four weeks.  If it doesn’t sell it is sent to a Goodwill Outlet Store.  Yes.  While it sounds redundant there are Goodwill Outlet Stores.  (The Outlet Store in Columbus is at 2675 Brice Road, Suite B, 43232) Here, items are sold at “ridiculously low” prices, according to the employee to whom I spoke. All items are sold by the pound with prices varying depending on how much you buy.


Then what? What if the item still gets passed over at the ridiculously low prices?  Believe it or not there are still more people who want the clothing that was unwanted by you, left unsold by the customers of the Goodwill Retail and passed over at the Outlet Stores.  Items that survive are bundled in huge lots (“It looks like a huge tennis ball with the cover off,” said the Goodwill  employee)  and sent to auction where they are bought by vendors with intent to sell the garments overseas, re-purposing the fabric, or shredding the fabric for use as furniture stuffing or insulation. Charitable organizations who operate in third world countries often use these auctions to find cheap, usable clothing for their non-profits care centers in the countries they serve.


The big message in all of this is NOT to throw away old clothing either for convenience or because you think no one will want it. Experts say that 12 million tons of clean, good repair clothing a year are filling our landfills when they could be charitably, usefully, and gratefully received by others. Including that kid in Africa who ends up with your son’s t-shirt. Go Bucks.


This blog is written by Kathy Chiero.  Kathy is the Team Lead for The Kathy Chiero Group of Keller Williams Greater Columbus Realtors.  Thinking of Buying or Selling?  Find us


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