"I got the best bargain — this book,” I said. “No, you didn’t. Look at this Coach purse,” my daughter said.
The fun of bargain shopping at Goodwill of Central Arizona is the thrill of the competitive hunt. Goodwill retail stores sell donated items at bargain prices to fund Goodwill’s mission of helping unemployed people to find jobs.
Two special Career Centers operate in Mesa. The centers are open to the public, and offer easy access to a career-services counselor. Services to the unemployed are innumerable: counseling, training, resume writing, computer classes, recruitment events, job fairs and tips on how to dress for success — and more. And 90 cents of every dollar are channeled back into the community to help Arizonans.
Please donate your unwanted items to Goodwill. Some things are too good to be thrown away or to be put out on the curb for bulk-trash pickup. The value of items donated to Goodwill can be deducted on your tax return. When you donate, get a tax-refund form to fill out and to file with your tax return. For a list of dollar values you can claim, go onto the Goodwill website and click “Donate” and then “Get Tax Info.”
If you haven’t bargain shopped at a Goodwill store, you are in for a surprise. Some of their merchandise is new or nearly new, especially children’s clothing. You will find all kinds of bargains: clothes, books, electronics, toys, furniture, house wares, and almost any other item desired by mankind. Some clothes are to be proudly worn and others are to create great gilly suits or Halloween costumes. For only $2, I bought a pristine copy of my all-time favorite craft book: Simplicity’s Simply the Best Sewing Book. I also bought priceless old sewing patterns that are now heirlooms. A cousin bought sporting goods for skiing, snorkeling and skating. He was amused to discover that the HD television model he bought ten years ago for $2,500 now sells for $25. And the TV set seemed to still work just fine at 99 percent off the retail price.
Goodwill has specials for everyone. Go on the Goodwill website and get an immediate coupon for $5. Sign up with your email to get additional coupons. On Sundays, students, teachers and the military get a 25% discount. On Tuesdays seniors get the same discount. Donated items receive a color-coded tag upon arrival. Color coding determines which items go on sale next. Cheap Saturday is every two weeks when everything is HALF OFF. Show up early.
People with loupes for eye glasses search through the jewelry hoping to find a diamond camouflaged among the zircons. Men examine nooses of coiled wires along with vacuums and washers. Goodwill employees give incoming electronics a once over and then provide electrical outlets for testing stuff.
People race into the store to outrun the Grim Reaper of Recession. The truly hot section on Cheap Saturdays is the furniture department. If you find something you want, buy it now. If you pass up a great book, for instance, some bibliophile will buy it first and will discover an autograph inside by Abraham Lincoln.
My family loves Goodwill. The girls find armoires, oil paintings, and picture frames. The boys finding bicycles, skate boards and pet cages.
In the small-toy bins, I found Batman and Spiderman and Headless Man at a price of six for a dollar. And Barbie dolls, some of them wearing their ball gowns and some of them wearing only magic-marker tattoos. When they were little, my sons lined their toys up on our back hill and shot them with bee bee guns. So I waxed sentimental when I saw a Han Solo figure with a bee bee stuck in his cheek.
Merchandise returns require original tags and receipts. You have fourteen days to return items to get a store credit. If you buy something too big to immediately haul home in your car, find a store employee to write up a two-part ‘”hold” ticket. One part is taped to the item you want and the other part is given to you to take to the cashier and to pay. Also, talk to the manager to make sure that he or she knows that you will be back to pick up your paid-for merchandise. Mix-ups happen like “lost” hold tickets. Another customer may buy your item while you are gone. Keep both your receipt and your hold ticket to get your money back. Caveat: pick up your purchase without delay.
With unemployment, high prices, and the Lizard Lick repo people hiding in your hedges, help yourself out and go bargain hunting at Goodwill.
Goodwill stores span the valley. Hours are 9 to 9 Monday through Saturday, and 10 to 6 on Sunday. Go to goodwillaz.org/for coupons, store locations, and more info.
• Linda Hutchings is a Gilbert resident and a life-long frugal consumer — uh, cheap skate. Please reach her at: firstname.lastname@example.org. Send her your penny-pinching ideas.