Bins at a Bargain


Andrea Porter

SLU student Lexxy Ahn poses in thrifted clothing

Are you a college student on a budget? Are you looking to update your wardrobe? Add some new home decor to your dorm? Discover a new book? Maybe start searching for a Halloween costume? You’re in luck! There is an extremely budget-friendly store right in SLU’s backyard…literally. If you look out North Campus windows facing Forest Park Avenue, the big bold letters “Goodwill Outlet,” will meet your eyes. 

Goodwill is a franchised thrift store that sells donated clothing, shoes, furniture, toys, and other miscellaneous household items. Unlike mainstream Goodwill stores, Goodwill Outlet receives all the merchandise from surrounding Goodwill stores that fail to sell their items within six weeks. The store’s nickname is “the bins” because unsold items are dumped into massive blue bins at this outlet store. It’s comparable to an Easter egg hunt: you don’t know what will be in the plastic egg, but the fun lies in finding the hidden eggs. 

The prices make your time at the bins worth your while. At just $1.39 per pound of clothing, you are guaranteed to spend up to 75 percent less than you would at the average Goodwill retail store. While dorm room furniture can cost up to hundreds of dollars, buyers can expect to find furniture at ten dollars or less at the Goodwill Outlet. 

Environmental sustainability is an additional factor for visiting the Goodwill Outlet. In the current age of social and environmental justice awakenings, it is the partial responsibility of young adults, such as college students, to pave the way. There is no doubt that shopping second hand is an effective and accessible way for college students to be more mindful and sustainable as they are purchasing clothes that would have otherwise been thrown away. Brand new clothing is often cheaply made; it commonly rears, stretches, or simply goes out of style, ultimately ending up in a landfill (where it can sit for centuries).

Though thrifting is environmentally friendly, it is important that it not be seen as a major solution to climate change. As Rajo Ronobir, a journalist and policy intern at Harvard, writes: “One should become conscious about whether their decisions are only helping certain populations, or whether they are collectively serving the low-income people who are disproportionately impacted by climate change in the first place.” A good rule of thumb is to only purchase clothing that is essential to your lifestyle; otherwise, you risk taking away an item from someone who truly needs it.

With the many thrift stores located in Saint Louis, there is a multitude of opportunities to explore new ways to shop in a budget-friendly manner. However, it is important to remember that while thrifting is truly beneficial to the environment, be conscious of what you are purchasing and from which neighborhoods you are choosing to thrift. With all this in mind as you plan your trip to the Goodwill Outlet, remember to get there early, bring your own bags, and keep an open mind.