It’s hard enough to stick with anything for a week or a month. Imagine challenging yourself to do one thing for the whole year.
An Issaquah woman has done that by shopping only at Goodwill stores for all of 2011.
I need to clarify two things right off the top. Goodwill did not pay the woman to spend her year “Living the Goodwill Life .” And, her name is Beautiful Existence. Really. She legally changed her name a couple of years ago after meditating on a mountain top in Colorado.
She has a unusual name and a curious outlook on the world. She wants to completely understand things that most of us don’t give a second thought, like thrift stores.
Beautiful wondered, could a person get everything they need at a Goodwill store?
“It was my goal to buy just from the Goodwill everything except for food. Even though the Goodwills sell food, I couldn’t really live off the snack candy or ask my family to do that,” she says. “For the most part, and I can definitely say being at the end of this, you absolutely can find everything you need at a thrift store.”
Outside of food, toiletries, and medication, she only purchased 15 items from a source other than Goodwill.
“They were very specific things like a particular color uniform for a class that I was in,” says Beautiful.
But everything else from Goodwill? Prove it. Oh, she can with stacks of receipts for the full year. What she paid for an item at the Goodwill is listed, and next to each item she wrote a comparable price from a retail store. For example, a child’s toy she paid 99 cents for has a retail price of $4.99.
The comparisons go on, and on, and on. Beautiful is waiting until the end of the year to calculate her savings, which she says will be “significant.”
Among her discoveries this year, two treasures that she paid $31 for which might be worth $8,000.
“I have a piece of jewelry that I purchased and I have a limited edition print from artist Harold Keeler who was a well known around here,” she says. “I’m trying to get a good estimate from a gallery and from a jewelry store before I actually put the final total together.”
Here are a few of her favorite Goodwill finds:
She learned from doing this challenge that our throw-away society gets rid of a lot of quality stuff, but that’s okay because it helps people who need to shop at thift stores. She was also surprised to see so many professionals shopping at Goodwill.
“I have seen more people at thrift stores that I would have never seen 10 years ago. They’re coming in off of work with their suits, definitely looking for designer labels,” Beautiful says. “There’s nothing wrong with it. If you think that all you’re going to find in there are certain types of people, you’re mistaken.”
Now that her Goodwill challenge is over, she has projects lined up for the next decade. Her 2012 plan, which she’ll also blog about, is called “Parents tested, mommy approved. Her latest edition of “Parents” magazine which has yellow sticky notes on almost every page. She’s been studying the publication and she’s going to spend the year testing the tips and suggestions found in articles, and taking on their advertisers to determine if their products live up to claims.
“I’ll check out all those ‘how to’ articles about what you should do with your kids, or how you can improve your love life. Is any of that stuff true? I’ll find out,” she says.