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How to shop the Goodwill Marketplace bins in Orange County

Goodwill Marketplace in Santa Ana

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How to shop the Goodwill Marketplace bins in Orange County

Contributing post by Justine Burgess

Do you love thrifting? Ever want to be an archaeologist? For years, I’ve been going to the Goodwill Marketplace (aka “the bins”), a place that requires my love of both, and it’s time to share the secret. You won’t be troweling in the dirt, but it is physical and patience-requiring work…and totally worth it if you find goodies that make you happy!!!

A word of warning, though- this is not for the faint-of-heart or casual browser. This type of thrifting requires you to roll up your sleeves and be willing to dig, quite literally.

Goodwill Marketplace in Santa Ana

The Goodwill Marketplace in Orange County, a.k.a. the “As-Is” yard a.k.a. “the Bins” is really that – a giant warehouse filled with bins full of thrifting treasure. Mound upon endless mound of clothing, shoes, books, accessories, and more.

Piled bins at Goodwill

The Marketplace caters to auctions in the back section, and the bins are located in the front. You can go and bid for huge lots, or you can dig for items sold by the pound (currently $2.49/lb). There are also furniture pieces and other large household goods near the front.

Tips for shopping the bins at the Goodwill Marketplace

Read this list of tips before your next trip to the bins at the Goodwill Marketplace:

  • Grab a cart on your way in (if you get there early enough) or you may have to get creative to carry your finds.
  • Bring cash instead of a credit card if you’re on a budget. It will limit your spending if you only have $20.
  • Bring hand sanitizer, wipes, and/or even gloves. A lot of hands have been there before yours.
  • To dig: Start at one end, pick a bin, and go through it by making an empty space on one end and moving clothing or items into the space. Work your way from one side to the other. This is your digging… and your upper body workout for the day. If you make it through all of the bins, you’ll feel like you just did about a hundred lateral pull-downs.
  • When you find items, grab them right away and put them in your cart. They probably won’t be there later and you can always filter through your picks. 
  • Check potential purchases carefully. Once you’ve accumulated a giant pile of items (and you will), go through them for stains or non-repairable rips.
  • Stock changes rapidly daily. Some days you’ll find a lot. Some days, nothing.
  • Be patient. Treasure hunting takes time.
  • New bins are brought out often. You’ll see people lining up to wait for them. Find a close spot, or just wait it out. There is a serious feeding frenzy once the bins arrive- I almost lost a hand one day! My 15 year-old niece literally dove into the crowd and I didn’t see her again until she resurfaced with a gorgeous Quicksilver jacket and three pairs of Abercrombie jeans.
  • Cull with care. Even if a shirt only costs 25 cents, that’s too much if you never wear it. I usually leave with 25-50 percent of what I originally grabbed.
  • Items like blankets, heavy jackets, books, shoes, and accessories are priced at the register individually. Prices may vary, but it is still likely to be quite a bargain.

People digging through bins at Goodwill

Once you’ve exhausted yourself, gotten a fabulous workout, and found enough awesome clothing (and other assorted items) to last for the next few years, take all your goodies up to the front to be weighed and/or priced. You might find you bought more than you intended…but hey, look at all you saved, right?

Goodwill finds

This is a recap of my best day ever at the Bins just to show you the possibilities:

  • New green and white Mossimo tank top
  • Pink and black “Check It Out” tank top
  • Cute, tiny, sheer black top (maker unknown)
  • New red “Morphine Generation” drape neck burnout T-shirt
  • Dark green “Threads for Thought” organic cotton sustainable L/S t-shirt
  • “9Love Mighty Fine” light green Peanuts T-shirt
  • Black “Free People” L/S studded shirt
  • New green/orange “Lucky Brand” sleeveless hoodie
  • “Crimson Ivy” tie-dye maxi-dress in brown and black
  • New grey “Foreign Exchange” maxi-wrap (serious find!)
  • Vintage multi color polka dot scarf
  • “Basic Editions” skull shorts
  • “WRG Jeans” plaid shorts
  • “Seven for All Mankind” signature jeans
  • “Soffee shirts” baseball sleeves T-shirt

And all this for (drum roll, please…)…. $8.62. I spent less for all of it than I would have for even the cheapest new retail price on any single item.

Not every “bins” adventure will be like this one, but you never know what you might find! Happy digging!

Goodwill Marketplace in Santa Ana

Goodwill Marketplace is part of Goodwill of Orange County. There are numerous retail locations to serve you. By shopping at Goodwill, you are supporting an organization that provides jobs and education for people with disabilities and other barriers to independence.

Address: 2722 W. Fifth Street (at Fairview), Santa Ana, CA 92703
Telephone: (714) 541-0406
Hours of Operation: M-Fri: 9AM–6PM, Sat-Sun: 10AM-5PM
Cash and credit cards accepted.

If digging through the bins isn’t your thing, check out Savers Thrift Stores instead. All of their racks are organized by size and they periodically have their very-popular Savers 50% off sales where all of their clothing. shoes and accessories ring up at 50% off. 

10 Comments

10 Comments

  1. Jenny

    October 26, 2012 at 6:08 pm

    I'm not one to dig, but if I can find treasures like that I just might try it!

    • Justine Burgess

      October 31, 2012 at 5:19 am

      Roll up your sleeves! You might get lucky the first time out. 🙂

  2. Anonymous

    October 26, 2012 at 11:52 pm

    Those are huge piles of clothes. It's good to know that it's there. I always thought it was just a warehouse. There is a nice Goodwill store right there too.

    • Pattie Cordova

      October 31, 2012 at 6:41 am

      they're mountains! LOL

  3. Unknown

    October 26, 2012 at 7:44 pm

    Awesome! You are so good at that! I used to shop thrift stores all the time before I started chasing my crazy tot. Back in college and beyond I loved spending time shopping for household items mainly. Unfortunately, my height sometimes makes it tough for me to find clothing. I need to get back into it for sure.

  4. Deborah Fox

    October 26, 2012 at 9:14 pm

    Thanks! I never knew that place existed:)<br />

    • Justine Burgess

      October 27, 2012 at 3:21 am

      It takes some getting used to, but it gets addicting…especially if you find awesome stuff. Lots of vintage items too. 🙂

  5. Desiree

    October 29, 2012 at 5:47 am

    I have to say, my best thrifting trip was at a Goodwill in LA, and I live in New York.

    • Pattie Cordova

      October 29, 2012 at 7:31 pm

      I agree! Thrifting in LA is the best.

    • Justine Burgess

      October 31, 2012 at 5:41 am

      Me too! I always thrift when on vacation, and it never quite measures up to SoCal. Desiree, there is a Goodwill As-Is yard in New York as well. 🙂 Not sure of the exact location, though.

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