Goodwill Bins Tips for Resellers: How to Find Items to Flip

The Goodwill Outlet is one of those places that thrill some people while horrifying others. Also called “the bins”, because of the big blue bins all the merchandise is piled into. It’s really another level compared to regular thrift stores. But it’s also one of the best places to buy items to resell online and make a huge profit because of how items are priced.

I do at least 90% of my thrifting for my reselling business at the bins because it’s the only place you can buy inventory with room to make a good profit since regular thrift stores can be expensive now. In this post, I’ll share all about the Goodwill outlet and my best Goodwill bins tips for resellers.

Here’s a video I made with bins tips, too!

What’s the difference between Goodwill Bins and Regular Goodwill Stores?

Alright, so here’s where people get confused. Goodwill is Goodwill, right? Wrong!

Goodwill retail stores are your typical thrift store. Everything’s sorted neatly (mostly), and each item has a price tag. Similar to how a regular store is set up. But at the Goodwill outlet, it’s much different.

When you step into a Goodwill outlet, instead of neat racks, you’ll find massive blue bins filled with stuff. And the best part? Instead of individual price tags, most bins locations will charge you based on weight.

The price per pound differs at each location, but it’s usually much more affordable than the individual prices at a Goodwill retail store. I’ve paid anywhere from $0.79/lb to $2.99/lb.

Compared to regular thrift prices, this can be a steal! Imagine you pick up 20 items and your finds weigh 4 pounds. At $2.99/lb, that’s just under $12 for 20 items! Even if you find heavy items that weigh 1lb, that’s $2.99 for one item which is hard to find at most thrift stores.

Honestly, it’s a whole different vibe and can feel a bit overwhelming if you’re a first-timer. But the bins truly is a reseller’s gold mine. 

How do items end up at the bins?

Usually, stuff that didn’t find a home at the regular stores gets one last chance at the bins. There are also raw donations that never made it to a thrift store, and these can be gold! It all depends on what your Goodwill Outlet location has available at any time.

How Does the Goodwill Outlet Work?

While all Goodwill Outlet stores can have their own rules, most of them work similarly. Before you embark on your first trip, there’s some info to get you familiar with how it works. The Goodwill Bins aren’t exactly the Wild West, but they’re definitely a tad more intense than your regular thrift store.

So, once you walk in, you’ll notice these enormous blue bins arranged in rows. Most of the time, they’re sorted into clothing/textiles in certain bins with hard goods and basically anything else in other bins. Shopping carts are littered all over the sales floor as people search through the large bins.

To shop, grab a cart or a basket (I recommend a cart) and start digging!

Now, let’s talk about the yellow line. This might sound like something from a game, but it’s serious business. (I’m only half serious).

When they roll out new bins, you’ve got to stand behind the yellow ling. It’s like the starting line of a race because when new bins come out, it’s like Black Friday meets a scavenger hunt. Be polite, be swift, and may the thrifting odds be ever in your favor!

Honestly, it’s not as bad as people make it sound. Just keep your hands to yourself and wait for the staff to tell you it’s safe to dig. This is for everyone’s safety. There are almost always some impatient people who will try to dig in before it’s time, but if you’re nervous, be patient and observe so you can get an idea of how it works.

Personally? I usually hover in the back and watch others dig so I can swoop in and grab something if I see it, without dealing with crowd. Then when the excitement dies down after a few minutes, I’ll start digging.

Once you have a cart full, you take it to the front where they will weigh it, and you’ll pay the price per pound and be on your way!

Get Ready for Your First Trip

If you’re about to head to the Goodwill Bins for the first time, this is for you.

What to Bring

  • Small Crossbody Purse or Belt Bag: You want your hands free, and a crossbody purse with a zipper is perfect to safely stash your personal belongings without getting in the way of your treasure hunt. A belt bag works too.
  • Hand Sanitizer: Things can get dusty, and you’ll be touching a lot. A little hand sanitizer spray will your hands fresh, especially before you get back in the car to go home and feel a little grimy.
  • Headphones: Since I usually spend a few hours there, I usually listen to a podcast or some music. I use these wired earbuds so I can’t drop one and lose it in a bin!

What to Wear

  • Comfortable Clothes & Shoes: Imagine you’re heading to a workout, but instead of weights, you’re digging through hundreds of pounds of clothing. No really, it’s a good workout. You may go home sore. Wear something you can move around in comfortably.
  • Gloves (optional): If you’re a bit squeamish about diving deep into those bins, bring a pair of gloves. I don’t wear them because I like to feel the fabric while digging around.

Remember, like any new experience, the first time might feel overwhelming. But the thrill? Oh, it’s contagious. If you’re anything like me, you’ll be obsessed with heading to the bins to see what treasures you can find next.

Goodwill Bins Tips

Alright, you’re prepped and made it to the bins. But how do you make sure things go smoothly and your cart isn’t just filled with random knick-knacks that won’t make you any money? You need a strategy! Here are the best tips for success.

Find the best time to go

The early bird catches the worm, right? I think mornings are the best time to go, but this isn’t a one-size-fits-all rule. You may find a different time works for you at your location.

Fresh bins vs. old bins

Fresh bins are the new stock rolled out, and it’s usually a mad rush when they come in. But definitely don’t disregard the older bins. I’ve found lots of gems that were missed by many people in older bins that have been sitting around for hours.

Remember, not everyone is looking for the same items you are!

Cart etiquette

Things can get cramped so don’t leave it blocking pathways, and definitely don’t dig through someone else’s cart. Golden rule? Treat others’ carts as you’d want yours treated. But also, don’t trust others with your cart. Keep it close because some people just can’t help themselves, or may simply think you’ve abandoned it. It happens.

Visit regularly

Not every visit is going to be gold. Some days, I walk out with absolutely nothing, and some days, I walk out with my cart so full everything is trying to fall out on the way to the car. 

Inspect items thoroughly

Many items end up at the bins because they didn’t sell at the retail store. Sometimes that means it’s damaged, or it can get damaged in the bins while others are digging around. That’s why it’s always important to thoroughly check each item to ensure it’s in good condition. Check for damage, stains, or issues that impact resale value.

Pay attention to weight

While most items at the bins are a steal with the ridiculously low prices based on weight, there are occasionally heavy items that aren’t worth grabbing. If something feels a little heavy and you’re not sure if it’s worth the investment, you can always take it to the front and ask them to weigh it.

Research each item

Unless you’ve sold an item before, it’s always a good idea to look up each item so you know it’ll sell for a good price, and it’s worth your time. This applies anytime you’re sourcing, but it’s important at the Goodwill outlet too because it’s easy to get caught up in everything being cheap.

Dig then evaluate

​I’ve found that it’s easiest to dig through everything and throw stuff in your cart, then park somewhere out of the way and slowly go through your items, rather than looking each item up as you find it. You certainly don’t have to do it this way, but it’s much more efficient, and it’s safer than taking your phone out every few minutes (many people have lost their phones in the bins). 

Keep your keys, phone, wallet safe

The bins are not like a stroll through Target. And while most people aren’t trying to steal things from you, it’s super easy to accidentally drop something into a bin without noticing.

Keep your phone, keys, wallet, and anything else important locked up in a zippered pocket in a bag, etc. to ensure you don’t end up one of those people looking through bins for their car keys so they can go home.

What is the best time to go to the Goodwill bins?

Most resellers who source at the bins prefer to go in the morning, but it really depends on your location and your preferences. I like to go in the morning when I know I can get there before opening and easily grab a cart and a parking spot. In some locations, that’s not an issue. Some resellers prefer afternoons when it’s slower.

Try going at different times to decide what works best for you! Honestly, any time at the bins is a good time, in my opinion.

Are Goodwill outlets worth it?

Absolutely! Unless you’re looking for pristine shopping conditions and clear prices, most resellers find that the bins are one of the best places to source because you can find such great deals. I source all of my best finds at the bins, and many resellers can say the same.

How do Goodwill bins work?

Instead of items being sorted by type and nicely presented like in a regular thrift store, you walk in to rows of big blue bins filled with merchandise. In most Goodwill Outlet stores, you pay by the pound. So, you load your cart or basket, then take it to front to get weighed, and pay according to the total weight.

In some locations the pricing is a set per pound amount, some stores have different price for different categories, and at some you get a lower price the more you buy. It varies by location.

Final Thoughts

The Goodwill Outlet can be a paradise for resellers or anyone with an open mind looking for a good deal. Whether you’re in it for the thrill, the finds, or the potential profits, there’s always something waiting to be discovered. To newbies, it can seem a little scary because it doesn’t work like a regular store, but once you go, I think you’ll be a little bit obsessed once you realize the great finds waiting in those giant bins.

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