• Elsie Hernandez

My Experience at the Goodwill in LIC

Every day on my way to work I pass by this Goodwill store in Long Island City, New York. I often wondered why so many people are lined up early at the door waiting for them to open. Honestly it’s been years that I’ve been seeing these same faces like clockwork waiting at this door. So finally on these two days I decided to see what the "Goodwill" is really about and why are these people are so dedicated to coming here everyday .

Whenever you walk into a thrift shop, most times clothes are tightly hung up on racks and sizes are possibly mixed up. Well not at this Goodwill. The place is huge and everything is mixed up and set in piles on huge bins. I spoke to a few regulars and they gave me the scoop on how they make a profit. I also spoke to a few employees who gave me the reality of how dedicated the people are.

I sort of got a mini training with two particular regulars who I won’t mention names, but they were and older and younger gentleman. Both come in to collect books, and vinyl records. On some days one guy said, he racks up on books that have a higher value and sells them online. He uses the Amazon app. to scan the value of the book and spends hours looking through them. By the end of each hour he usually has a pile. I tried it for a little bit, the older gentleman told me I had to pay attention to shipping and handling as well. The first time I visited I spent six dollars and racked up on DVD’s for Sky. We were so happy I brought home one of our favorite movies “Freaky Fridays”. The second time there were no DVDS out, so I focused on the people and their work. Yes their work, some of these customers make a livelihood out of buying at Goodwill. Especially since the clothes can be as low as like .39 a pound.

I found some random pics on with comments like “The herd waits for the fresh bins, seriously like the Hunger Games…..The crowd getting ready to sprint and pummel anyone in their game.” I thought these comments were probably exaggerated, but quite honestly they weren’t kidding. It’s a serious game at the Goodwill in Long Island City.

According to the staff some days can be rough at the Goodwill. Every two hours new items are put out, so the customers have to line up and wait until they are put on the floor. Here's the thing, one staff member stands in front of the line and yells out the rules, “no pushing, no running, no fighting" , but the customers have their own rules and the first thing I witnessed when they rushed in, was the pushing and shoving. One customer said, she never rushes up to the bins because most people do not know what the clothes are worth and that she has been in business for a year and is doing really well at selling her thrifts online. I told her I was so happy for her. It’s a diverse place, but the majority of the regulars on this particular day were of Dominican decent. All of the customers mean business. An Asian woman came up to the register area where I was observing, with a raccoon hat and I was like ewe. I asked did you run for that and she said, no I walked. The staff member said, you did not walk to get that, with a smirk on his face. I was amused by the woman, then she said, look it was made in the USA. Later on I saw her showing it off to one of her colleagues. Some of the customers that come in early have carriages full of stuff and cover it with a cloth so nobody can touch them. Then at the end of the evening they sort through them for the things that they want and leave the rest for the staff to cleanup. By the way, if you don't have a cloth on it, that means it's up for grabs.

On this day I learned a lot. I learned that people buy these clothes at a really low rate to resale them in their thrift shops or online and that some send it to their countries to resell. I learned through observation that people can be aggressive when things are either free or cheap. I learned that I really hate sorting through old clothes. I learned that some people sometimes just need something to do to keep themselves busy. Some of these customers are here from 8:00am to 8:00pm at night loading their carriages with clothes. Then I asked myself where does this money actually go to.

According to our donations help create jobs.

How You Help

When you donate to Goodwill, you’ve taken the opportunity to become a job creator and make a significant difference in the lives of individuals living in your community. After you drop off your shirts, shoes, blankets, electronics and other items, we sell them in one of our more than 3,200 Goodwill stores or on our online auction site, When someone buys your item, we use that money to fund job training and other services.

Maximizing the value of your donations is important to us. In 2016, we used 87 percent of the revenue generated through your donated stuff to support and grow programs that result in significant social impact for your community members in need of work.

Thanks to the programs made possible by your donations, more than 313,000 people earned jobs in 2016 that’s one person finding a job every 23 seconds of every business day.

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