I love doing interviews with actual Goodwill shoppers to illustrate just how much value you can get for you, or your family, simply by strategically shopping at our stores. In this blog, I’m picking the brain of my friend of 25 years, Stefani Miller. I knew Stefani before she had a family, and I’ve watched her ease into the life of a busy mom and business entrepreneur. She is the poster child for back-to-school shopping for her kids! As a matter of fact, I was recently at Goodwill researching ideas for an upcoming blog post, and low-and-behold there was Stefani with her 10-year-old daughter and her niece, shopping for kids clothes! I decided then and there to get her take on why Goodwill has become an important and fun part of her shopping experience as a mom and homemaker.
|Stefani's children, TJ (left) and Anna (right), have both
modeled for Goodwill. Click here to view our Amazing Looks,
where both are regularly featured.
Stefani, as a mother of four, how did Goodwill become a valuable resource for you and your family?
Being a part of the fashion industry, looking my best has always been important to me. Naturally when I had my kids, dressing them adorably also became a must. With four kids, purchasing clothes became a real expense. As resale shops began popping up, I started to investigate more options for purchasing clothes for my large family. Goodwill was a natural fit. I enjoy the hunt for a great style piece, along with the MUCH better price tag. Now if someone in my family needs something, I try my Goodwill store before venturing into a full-price retail store.
Concerning kids and back to school, what type of items do you look for when that time of year rolls around?
My secret for finding the best back-to-school items are to go frequently. Every day new items show up on the sales floor. I look for the basics first. JEANS. My kids live in them. Because kids grow so quickly, most kids don't wear their clothes to the end of their life span. Next, I seek out t-shirts. Fun graphic t's that can be layered with cardigans and pullovers are a favorite in my house. Sweaters, jackets and snow-pants are also on the preliminary list. Because they're usually worn only for one season, they are in great condition. Just this week I found a pair of white North Face snow pants, and a navy-blue down (feather) Abercrombie & Fitch ski jacket for my youngest daughter. These two pieces would have cost me over $200 had I bought them new … I paid a total of $14 for them. Once I have enough of the basics, I get a little choosier and seek out fun, new pieces to mix in.
Can you tell us about a few of your favorite purchases for the kids, or for yourself?
Because I shop at my Goodwill so frequently (I even have a favorite employee that I seek out to say hello to when I'm there … Hi Brooke!), choosing only a few favorite pieces would be difficult. One of my very most favorites is a chair and ottoman that sits in my bedroom. It's a light-green toile fabric, masterfully crafted, vintage Tudor replica chair with claw feet and scrolled wood armrests. It's stunning. I also recently found a gorgeous handmade quilt. Occasionally when I have more time to search for treasures, I venture into the jewelry cabinet. I have a wonderful vintage Ralph Lauren gold chunky bracelet. It's gorgeous. Shoes are another favorite in our house, for my kids especially. They now prefer shoes that are "soft" … meaning already broken in. This summer I found a beautiful black sleeveless Donna Ricco sundress. It's in mint condition. I wore it with a white jean jacket to an outside cocktail party and had tons of compliments. Did I mention it was $5.99? Chuck Taylor’s are all the rage with my kids these days … I found two pair in my daughter’s size! Navy, polka dot and a light teal color. At $4.99 a pair, I thought why not get both?
Our mantra is reduce, reuse and recycle. How do those words impact your family?
Reuse and recycle are definitely my mantra as well. I recycle everything I can. Clothing and furniture are so easy to reuse. I'm trying to reduce but with prices like this, it's hard to resist the great find! I like the fact that after I'm done with something, I take it back to Goodwill and another person finds new joy in discovering it. I purchased, a few years ago, a pair of Gap pajama bottoms. They looked like they'd never been worn. I wore them for two winters and donated them back to Goodwill. I looked for them the next time I went in, and they were gone. That's a great feeling. They're still out there being loved. Someday, they'll become someone’s dust rag! Ha!
Any tips for the first time “mom shopper” at Goodwill? (What to look for not only for kids, but for the household in general, when to go, etc.)
My tips for a first-time Goodwill shopper would be to take your time. It can be a little overwhelming walking in the door. It's a big place. Walk around the entire store before looking at any one rack. Get to know where things are, like the children’s department, women’s department and household furnishings. Every Goodwill store I've been in has been really well laid out. Next, make sure you know whether you're there for a specific piece, or there just to look around and see what you might find. I recommend seeking your NEED list first because you will "FIND" many things you don't really NEED. Once you have your bearings, commit to looking in one section at a time. You don't have to look at each piece of clothing. Scan a small area on the rack and look for a fabric, color, or pattern that stands out. Another great tip is to narrow your focus. Be specific. If you know you need certain items for your wardrobe, go in with a detailed list. Most of the shirts are color coordinated. White, Size M, long-sleeve shirts are usually hung all together. This mode of shopping sometimes takes a little longer so make sure you have the time. Lastly, ENJOY. It's a great feeling knowing you got a great deal on a great piece and that it helped people in the process. I like supporting this mission. Thanks Goodwill! See you tomorrow!