Definitely NOT Goodwill™

April 9th, 2010 Comments

basic essentials pressure cookerGrowing up, my Mom taught me to be creative and thrifty – one of her haunts was the local Goodwill store.  Even late into her life, my Mom would proudly return from her trips to the Goodwill and do something creative.  But she also found good bargains on clothes, gifts, and various other great deals.  I’ve always had great loyalty to the Goodwill™.

That all changed yesterday.  Like I do sometimes, I stopped at our local store in Longview, to browse, explore, and decompress.  There is something about the browsing process that stirs my creative juices – and sometimes I find a killer deal. 😉

Yesterday, I thought I’d discovered one of those killer deals. There, on a middle shelf was a shiny, apparently new, but out of the box, pressure cooker.  The Wife had asked me to keep my eye open for a pressure cooker, and this one was only $24.99!  I called to check with The Wife, and sure enough, that’s what she wanted – but she had another brilliant idea, that is to Google the pressure cooker and check the price.  Maybe this wasn’t a $70 item after all.

My search revealed that I could get the same pressure cooker, new, and still in the box almost anywhere for the same glorious price of $24.99.  At this point, I figured the person who sets the prices also assumed this was a $70 pressure cooker, so I was still a Goodwill fan.  I asked to talk to the manager, and that’s when things began to go downhill.

Not only did the manager show a total disregard for customer service, which was annoying at best, and foolish at worst.  When I explained that I could get the same cooker at Sears for the same price, and at Bed, Bath, and Beyond for $10 cheaper, she essentially explained that I could come back in three weeks and if it was still in the store, she’d reduce the price.

First of all, I am not going to wait three weeks to buy something that I could order from Amazon and have delivered within 48 hours. Second, I wondered, why would they intentionally price something at full retail price?  That’s when it occurred to me, this is their strategy.  It’s well known that the Goodwill™ takes in tons of donations and reduces prices over time in order to move older inventory.  But this is where I have a problem with this strategy.

Not everyone who shops at the Goodwill™ is armed with a mobile Internet device, nor do they have a brilliant spouse who recommends they use said mobile device to check prices.  Worse, the Goodwill organization has a strong reputation for looking out for the disadvantaged, but this policy of overpricing items seems to take advantage of those who are most inclined to shop at the Goodwill™.  It appears that the Goodwill™ markets itself as an organization that values providing opportunities for the disadvantaged, but at the same time preys on those who trust them to provide value-priced merchandise.

At this point, I see no reason to continue to supporting the Goodwill™ through my donations or purchases.

End of rant.


  1. I remember when I was a kid, my favorite thing to do when I went to my grammas house, was to go to Goodwill and Value Village. She bought me so much for a few dollars. Now, I go in, and it’s true, I do find some things, that I can actually get somewhere else for less. It is truly sad that our world has come to a place where even those who we think are there to help the disadvantaged, are greedy. So we have to look for bargains or sale items at the resale shops, where everything used to be a bargain.

  2. Brent says:

    It has been my experience, when met by an unresponsive manager at the thrift chain here, that the regional manager is far more responsive.

    1. gwalter says:

      I’m sure that’s true Brent. And if I really cared about a silly $25 item I could pursue that option. My issue is systemic though.

      First, Goodwill is known for bargains, everything should be priced as such. 75% of shoppers in the Longview store with me did not have the capacity to discern that this was not a bargain.

      Second, the store manager, who may have been having a bad day, should always set the highest example of customer service. This is a training/hiring issue. It would be wrong to punish or reprimand or discipline this manager.

      Third, regional/corporate management should be providing the policies and training that would empower this individual manager to make reasonable decisions, in a fair and friendly manner.

      Finally, all businesses need to realize the pressures of Google Goggles/Barcode Scanner, social media, and the mobile Internet in general.

      This is really a shout out to any brick and mortar business – and I welcome a reply from Goodwill themselves. Let’s see if they’re paying attention.

  3. jim cowdrick says:

    I respectfully submit that you are not being objective and impartial.
    Good will takes in donated items and resells them, using the proceeds to fund other beneficial programs. Goodwill stores also benefit patrons/the community by offering goods at reduced prices. The pressure cooker was for sale at the marked price with the proceeds to go to the charitable programs. Some people shop at Goodwill out of necessity, others go to get goods they want while at the same time contributing to a good cause. (The annual Girl Scout Cookie drive is an example.) Customers had free choice to purchase or wait. If the patrons considered the price high they pass it up until the reduction policy would lower the price to the level that “the market would bear.”
    You said that you were browsing, looking for a deal but not an immediate need. Could you have watched and waited until the price was lowered?
    Are you reacting because you had a personal difference of opinion with the manager?
    Was the price out of line? Were you taken advantage of buy the purchase? Was the item misrepresented?



    1. gwalter says:

      Jim, clearly this is an emotional response, notice my final sentence re: “End of rant.”

      However, this isn’t really about me. This is about a system that is unresponsive to the pressures of the Internet, pricing that could be considered predatory to those without the means, the will, or the wisdom to double check prices – in other words, some might wrongly assume that because it’s sold at the Goodwill, it is a bargain.

      I understand that the Goodwill has done much good in the past – and may even continue to much good. I also understand, very personally, that we are in a down economy. As a business person, I also understand the pressures to stay fiscally sound. However, this item should have been priced lower than full retail to start with.

      My disagreement with the manager was not significant. This is a systemic issue, not personal. I am arguing for better training, better pricing policies, and more responsive customer service – and like always, not for me personally, but for the voiceless and dis-empowered who may not have the tools to ask for this themselves.

    2. gwalter says:

      Jim, many people have similar expedriences, at various establishments all the time, but they never openly talk about it – they just never go back. However, they will often tell at least 10 people about their experience – yet that business is out of the loop and never gets the feedback in a way that will benefit them, or in a way they can address.

      By writing about this incident in the Social Media space, I am giving the Goodwill an opportunity to be a part of the conversation and espond appropriately. It is their choice.

      Recently, a friend of mine blogged about an experience she had at a local restaurant. Her story was reported on the local news and within 24 hours the small restauant chain had adjusted their policies.

      Now I don’t have near the readership of @sarahgilbert, and I don’t think this is that big of issue, however, I don’t believe the Goodwill is as responsive as @burgervilleusa either. We’ll see…

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