Is Goodwill really all that good?

Goodwill presents itself as a charity, but everyone has secrets

Bing Heine-Van Fossen, Managing Editor

Thanks to social media, thrifting has come to define our zeitgeist. This newest trend has sent people everywhere rushing into thrift stores to get deals and find hidden treasure. Despite its newfound popularity, some might be surprised at the dark secrets behind Goodwill, the mainstream thrifting company. 

According to Alice Minium, a writer for Medium, there are some key reasons as to why Goodwill may not be the best thrift store to spend your money at. Keep in mind that Goodwill is not the only thrift store that takes part in immoral practices; there are other establishments that do the same things… but that doesn’t make the corporation innocent.

Have you wondered what Goodwill does with all the donations that do not make it onto the shelf or sell quickly? Well, as Lizzo says, “truth hurts.” It turns out, Goodwill sends the excess clothes to third world countries. Seems like a decent plan, right? The issue here is that Goodwill sends the items to these countries to sell them. The whole point should have been to make a donation, but they are still just trying to profit off of struggling people. While they are a corporation, they present a charitable image to the public; but selling old clothes that weren’t ‘good enough’ for America to third world countries shows a lack of respect. This implies that  Goodwill just wants to make itself appear charitable so that it will remain popular. As this has shown, however, anything that is not bought will just be sold to third world countries.

Anyone who regularly shops at Goodwill can notice that their prices have gone up since thrifting became popular. Now you will be paying around $8 for someone’s old jacket; this might be seen  as a good deal now, but remember that you’re buying it secondhand from people you don’t know. In addition to this, one of the main appeals of thrift shopping is to find ‘hidden gems.’ Now Goodwill will set special items (e.g. Kate Spade purses, as well as other designer labels) behind their counters, charging around 40 dollars or more for these items, which seems pretty steep for a donated purse. On Goodwill’s official website, which includes items for sale as well as for auction, they are selling a $1,560 Nigerian Sapphire and Diamond Ring. Oh, and shipping and handling is not included, that will cost you an extra $60.

Goodwill also abuses the Fair Labor Standards Act under Section 14 (c), which allows them to pay their employees a minimum of 22 cents an hour. advertises the fact that they are a nonprofit who helps to give jobs to those in need, but they will not even pay those people a living wage to help them get back on their feet.

Goodwill sets nearly unbearable quotas for their underpaid employees, forcing them to hang up 100 sets of clothing in around 32 minutes. If the employees do not reach their quota, then their pay will be docked. With a wage that cannot compete with the poverty line, the employees cannot afford to rest for even a second.

On the  topic of employment, Goodwill acts as if hiring disabled people as well as people who were formerly in jail is something that should right all of their wrongs. The disabled and formerly convicted do have a hard time finding jobs, but that is a societal issue that Goodwill should not be benefiting from. Goodwill advertises themselves as if they are tolerating the unbearable by hiring people of the disabled community. When you think about it, that’s not truly being inclusive, especially at the rate they are being paid. 

Amanda Mannen, a Goodwill employee, has stated that the executives at Goodwill are making six figure salaries. The old CEO was even fired due to how unreasonably large his salary was, even including a country club package. Even though he was fired, his severance package included $600,000. Let that sink in. A company not paying people enough to buy ramen (33 cents for one pack of Maruchan shrimp flavored instant noodles at Food 4 Less) could afford to let their overpaid CEO leave the company for $600,000. Think about all the good that money could have done; think of how many people it could have helped. 

The worst of Goodwill’s crimes is their attempt to cover up all of their dirty secrets, and marketing themselves as though they are a charitable company. The fact of the matter is, Goodwill is jacking up prices because thrifting has become a trend, while also refusing to pay their employees a compensated wage so that people can enjoy the fruits of their hard labor.  Through all of this, Goodwill says they are helping and making a change for the better; however, their practices are ignoring those who truly need it. In the end of the day, they are doing more to help people than most companies are which clearly isn’t saying a lot.

Is Goodwill still worth it?