Buying Collectibles from Goodwill:
When you can’t find what you’re looking for at Adriana’s Attic I would suggest trying Goodwill. No, not your local store although you may strike lucky there, but their online store. I came across them by accident several years back when I was looking for bronzes.
They have many categories available and you may well find stuff of interest outside of collectibles. I have on many occasions and searching for particularly hard to get items (not just collectibles) is part of my regular routine. I’m a camera nut and I always look there for bits and pieces that I may get a deal on.
The Upside of Buying from Goodwill
Every state in the Union is represented there. If you are lucky you may have several relatively local Goodwills you can easily reach. That’s not true for all of us (my nearest is 25 miles away) and many will not have one within easy reach at all.
ShopGoodwill has hundreds and hundreds of stores contributing which equates to thousands and thousands of items for sale. That means more choice for you; especially if you’re looking for something rare or even simply just hard to find. It never ceases to amaze me what goes through there.
You can get some really good deals there but there are some caveats which will be dealt with below in our “Downside” section. I’ve had some amazing deals like a bronze that in the blurb had the artist’s name wrong. The artist’s name was clear in a photograph so I did some research and found that most of his bronzes went for around $2000.
I got it for $50.02 shipped and I still have it. It was too interesting a piece to sell which had been my original intention. I have a house full of stuff I’ve bought to sell and have hung on to! Fortunately my wife is a bigger pack-rat than me so she is quite understanding!
The Downside of Buying from Goodwill
Everything is sold “As is” and you will see “No returns” everywhere. Those assertions however, do not supersede your legal rights as a shopper. If it is categorically not what they say it is then ask to return it.
I received a painting that was marked as being in excellent condition which had several holes in the canvas, over forty small areas of missing paint, and a nail sticking out through the frame. Nothing that was obvious in their pictures. It went back.
They will often make a disclaimer that there may be hidden or unseen damage and if that’s the case when you get it then that’s probably going to be tough luck.
If it turns up smashed to pieces send it back. I had another painting that was glassed in and it had been sent from the other side of the country with next to no padding at all around it. That’s the one over to the right.
Items will often turn up dirty. It’s nothing Goodwill has done, but rather what they haven’t done! People usually donate items to Goodwill without cleaning them first and Goodwill won’t clean them prior to putting them online. If it looks dirty then it will arrive dirty.
They will readily admit to not being experts in any known field so claims of authenticity are rarely made. If an item is fake and no claim has been made to it being genuine you are stuck with it. Authenticity is often inferred by the viewer but it is rarely explicitly stated or implied in their description.
Some Other Issues to Bear in Mind
No guarantee is made that all parts are present. I have had items turn up with parts missing that did not show in the photograph and weren’t mentioned in the description. Fortunately it was easy and cheap to replace most of them, but not all. Be prepared for that.
If a part is obviously missing then make sure you add the cost of replacement into your bid price. It’s no good buying a camera if the cost of a new battery charger and battery makes it more expensive than buying it complete elsewhere.
Tested: You will find many items (particularly electrical, computer and photographic) that will show “Tested.” This does not mean that it has been fully tested so be prepared for it not to be working the way it should. If it doesn’t say tested don’t assume it has been even if all they had to do was plug it in.
Untested: You will find even more items (again particularly electrical, computer and photographic) that will be listed as “Untested.” Sometimes there is a very good reason for this (no power cord or battery etc.) and sometimes there’s no reason at all. It is simply the way it is. Be prepared for an item to be completely non-working. I have had some but not many it has to be said.
Pay Attention to This When Buying from Goodwill
SHIPPING! STILL SHIPPING! AND STILL MORE SHIPPING! Did I get your attention? Good, please pay attention because this is a biggie. At least it is for me! The majority of sellers will only use FedEx and UPS which means that many small items end up being more expensive than they would otherwise be. It’s not a deal if the price plus shipping exceeds the price brand new!
The issue is further exacerbated because it would seem that very few of the sellers truly understand what dimensional shipping is. Time and again I have seen a dimensional shipping price charged when the package size would definitely not fall into that category.
That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t buy from ShopGoodwill but you should always check what your final price will be prior to bidding. Charity or not I am not prepared to be excessively charged for shipping. We ship all over the US and indeed throughout the world so we have a good idea of what something should cost.
There have been many times I have not bid because I consider the shipping to be extravagant.
Dos and Don’ts
- Check every single photograph listed for signs of damage.
- Always check the complete listing description. Flaws or damage are often mentioned that are not obvious in the photographs.
- Check that the description is backed up by what you see in the photographs. Sometimes what is shown in a photograph is different to the description. This can sometimes be to your advantage if nobody else has spotted it.
- Make sure that the item you want to bid on will be shipped! Sounds silly but some items (even those that could be packaged) are available for pick-up only. Most times this will not be an issue but it’s wise to check particularly for large or heavy items.
- Use their calculator to calculate the shipping and handling. That way you will know what your final price will be when you bid. Don’t assume it will be low just because it’s small.
- ALWAYS check around to see what price you can get an item for elsewhere. This is not so much for collectibles but for other items.
- If it is an item you can’t get elsewhere set yourself a maximum price limit and bid it. Don’t forget to add the cost of shipping into your maximum bid calculation though. That way the system will auto bid for you up to your maximum. Many folks like to snipe in the last ten seconds of an auction and you will not have time to up your bid.
- If you think you are justified in making a return always make sure that you speak to them first through the email support system prior to sending it off.
Incidentally, I received full refunds on the few occasions I have had to return items. On one occasion I was simply refunded without having to send it back.
The bottom line is check everything you can and do your homework as regards price.
And if you can’t find what you want in our store you can check out ShopGoodwill here.