Friday, April 21, 2017

The Glories of & How To Get Good Deals There

If you've read this blog for any amount of time, you'll know that I'm pretty cheap. I've been on a strict and shrinking budget for years now, leading to getting pretty creative at times to get things I want. While I'm a fan of getting things on the cheap, I don't like to buy "cheap things" (if that makes sense). I pride myself on knowing things that are worth skimping on as well as knowing where to splurge to get the best value for my money. My biggest hole in that for the past several years has been on handbags. I am notoriously rough on my purses, so I made the switch to buying leather purses as a rule about a decade ago. Back when I used to buy fabric bags or polyurethane bags, I was buying a new one every couple of months because the cheaper material just became tattered beyond repair. I still have the first Coach leather bag I ever bought back in 2004 and while it has a few stains, it's still perfectly wearable and sturdy. I have proved the value of my leather purses time and again. I would always buy them at outlet stores, making them cheaper anyway, and then I carry them forever. I'm not loyal to any brand name, I just want a quality leather item that will last. I haven't purchased any new bags because I really don't "need" a new one when my old ones are still fine, but let's be real - a lady just needs a new purse sometimes, amiright? Since I made several good sales on ebay a little while ago (selling things I no longer need in prep for my big move), I decided to splurge a bit on myself last year, but within reason. Enter is exactly what it sounds like: it's an online auction site that various Good Will locations around the country put their higher priced donated items on. If it's a fancy name brand, they probably have it on there now and again. I've seen lots of genuine Chanel, Fendi, Dior, Gucci, Coach, Kate Spade, Michael Kors, Cole Haan, Manolo Blahnik, Salvatore Ferragamo and many more names in items like shoes, sunglasses, purses, wallets, jewelry, coats, etc. It's pretty amazing, actually. Now I know you can find similar items and names on ebay with the same auction style format, but since ebay is more heavily trafficked and more of a household name, you are in higher competition for the nicer items and prices get high very quickly there. ShopGoodWill is run through items that were donated, so often the auctions start at around $9.99 no matter what the brand name is (some brands are even cheaper). Granted the fancier names tend to go up pretty fast, but still not like the prices you see on ebay most of the time. 

All that said, I wanted to show off a few of the items I got in my little "splurge" last year.
My first win was this Audrey Brooke silver textured leather bag. The bag arrived looking almost brand new - there is a tiny speck on the front bottom that you can see in the photo, but that was literally the only flaw. Even the metal feet on the bag were not scratched! After a quick vacuum and wipe down with leather cleaner, I filled this baby up and have carried it around ever since. The silver color goes with everything, plus this bag is deceptively large - I'm consistently amazed by how much I can fit inside it. I had never heard of Audrey Brooke before, but again - I don't care about names so long as I like the look of the bag and it's leather. From what I've found online, these bags seem to retail in the $100 to $200 mark for genuine leather, so I'm ridiculously pleased with the $18 I paid for mine including the shipping :)
My second purchase was just a bid on a whim because I figured the price would go up and I would not get it, but I might as well put in a bid just in case. Well, this paid off and I won the auction, lol. All three of these items were sold as one lot (something the Santa Ana, CA Good Will does which is really fun). I got a black and gray leather Cole Haan purse, black patent leather Cole Haan peep toe wedge heels (in my size, 9), and an Anne Klein watch all for $35 shipped. How crazy is that? I've bought Cole Haan purses at the outlets before and paid $100, normal retail being between $200 and $400 for their leather bags. The shoes are at least $100 retail, also genuine leather (and they have gray snake skin on the wedge heels), and Anne Klein watches retail for about $60 - $100 new. I could care less about the watch, and I sold it for $15 on ebay, lol, but I've worn the shoes many times and I love the bag. This bag is the one I mentioned in my Yerdle post (back when Yedrle was still around - so sad) - the bag was in amazing condition, just needing a slight wipe down (because I'm a germophobe) and a vacuum out, except that the shoulder strap was not included. This isn't a deal breaker by any means, but I do prefer carrying my bags on my shoulder, so I was thrilled to find the strap on Yerdle.
Sure, the strap is yellow, but since the bag already has color blocking with the black and gray, I think it looks deliberate and kind of fun :) And if yellow doesn't match my outfit, I can always just un-clip the strap and use the handle. The strap is Coach brand leather by the way (and it cost me like $2, lol).
My final purchase last year was the most fun in my opinion and the one I had to actually fight for. This is another Cole Haan bag with orange leather and some kind of woven material - I love the color and style of this purse, so I was willing to keep bidding to a certain extent. This was my most expensive buy at $39 including shipping, but it's just so springy and cute :) Check out the lining!
Polka Dots! I will confess that this one has a smidge more wear than the other two bags, giving me a little initial disappointment when it arrived, but after cleaning is and vacuuming it out, I was back in love :) How can you not love a purse with a bow? This purse feels the most "me" out of all my purchases, so I'm fine with the price I paid for it.

I carried each of these bags for months with no problems. They held up great, and still look lovely :) I've recently found a thrift store that has their purses for $2 each no matter if they are expensive brands or not (?!) so I've switched my purse again, lol. But I still love to look at ShopGoodWill on occasion to see if there is anything I can't live without.

Tips for shopping the site: has its ups and downs just like any other site, and after spending a good amount of time there of late I figured I would share a few things I've learned.
  1. Always check the shipping costs! Sure, that Coach bag sounds like a steal of a deal at just $20 ... until you buy it and find out that the shipping is another $25. Some Good Will locations add on heavy "handling fees" on top of the shipping, or deliberately charge the shipping price for a 4 lb item when your item only weighs 0.5 lbs. It's not a deal breaker by any means if the price is right on the auction itself, but it's definitely something to keep in mind. Before I place a bid, I always check the shipping cost.
  2. Look over everything and read the full descriptions - Some photos can be deceptive of an item's condition because you can't blow them up very big like other sites. I thought my orange Cole Haan bag looked just as pristine as my first two bag purchases, only to find it had wear to the corners on the leather that I didn't notice in the photos. Again, not a deal breaker, but in the end you have no one to blame but yourself if you end up with an item in much worse condition then you hoped.
  3. Believe the listing about the item's color - The people listing these items are not necessarily good photographers with editing or lighting equipment, so be sure to read what they say the color is. I purchased a Fossil bag on the site 2 years ago thinking it was coral only to have it arrive a bright red. I was naturally bummed, but when I read the listing again it did say the bag was red, so totally my fault. I've seen bags that say they are black, but the photos look gray, or even white bags that look almost black due to bad lighting in the main photo. Just pay attention to what they say about the piece before you bid and don't like what you end up with.
  4. Cross-check prices before you get into a bidding war - This kind of goes without saying on any auction site, but I always like to mention it. It can be really easy to set your sites on an item and just keep bidding even though you could technically get it cheaper on ebay. I saw a Louis Vuitton bag sell for over $1000 on this site, no joke. Certainly the bag was technically worth that price, but seriously? $1000 for a used purse? No thank you. I've had my eye on several cute Kate Spade bags, but that seems to be a very in-demand name right now so these bags get above $60 most every time no matter the condition. That's all well and good for those who have more money to spend and feel that's a still a good deal - I just like to keep my cut off point to about $40 on a used purse. It's a personal decision, of course, but don't get caught in the thrill of the bid and feel duped later.
  5. Remember: You can always check back later if your item goes too high - This kind of goes along with #4, but I've had to remind myself of it several times. I bid on a Moschino wallet last week that got much higher than I wanted very quickly and I was tempted to just keep going. Sure, the wallet was certainly worth the bidding price, but it was over my budget so I let it go. There will be more wallets in the future. There are plenty of other items that have yet to be donated or listed, so I don't need to break my bank on this one item when realistically I will probably want another wallet the next time I search the site too, lol. Just know - it's ok to let it go :)
  6. Search not just for the name brand, but also a generic description of what you want - Some of the people listing these items don't seem to really know much about what they are selling. I've come across name brand bags that did not list the name in the listing title, meaning that bag did not show up when I just searched for  "Cole Haan Purse". Since I was on a purse quest, I just typed in "handbag" or "purse" since most listings use only one or the other, sometimes I add "leather" to my search, but I frequently find leather bags that don't say they are leather in their title, so again they don't show up under that search keyword. I've seen brands misspelled too, so by just looking through the generic categories, you are much more likely to find a hidden gem that others looking for those key names won't be aware of.
I'm sure there are other things to keep in mind, but those will certainly get you started. I also just want to say that I am not affiliated with ShopGoodWill in any way - I don't get any kick back at all for mentioning it here. I just have really loved my little treasure trove so far and wanted to share :) Good luck!

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