On Saturday, about 20 ReuseConex attendees including a few from Austin Creative Reuse, were invited to a behind the scenes look at the Goodwill Outlet. This massive store at 6505 Burleson in south Austin is indeed a bargain hunters paradise. After Goodwill has actively marketed every sellable item donated, the unsold products make their way here. Sorted items are wheeled out to the main floor where shoppers look for “the good stuff”. Most items are sold by the pound. During my visit, I found a lovely green bowling ball engraved with “The Beast”. Luckily, bowling balls go for an cool $2.99 and are not sold by weight.
Besides bargain hunting we also toured the sorting area where unsold and unsellable items are sorted into 70 different areas (like suitcases, single shoes, hats, stuff animals), then baled. Baled goods are sold to recycling, reselling and reconditioning businesses around the city, state or country. While Goodwill does an amazing job of keeping lots of our extra “stuff” out of the land fill, it really brings home the effect of our constant consumerism. To see bales of stuffed animals, even with Mickey looking so content, was an eye opener. It really reminds us to purchase thoughtfully, then reuse, repurpose, regift, repair, reprise and value the things we have. While it’s great there are places like Goodwill and other wonderful thrift stores around our town who are willing to help us give our stuff a second life, we might all aim to just have a little bit less and be a little more content with what we have.