Woman looking shocked(l+r), Goodwill sign(c)

Helen89/Shutterstock @cascleo/Tiktok (Licensed)

‘I didn’t know there was a culture’: Goodwill shopper warns she gets ‘dirty looks’ when she goes to the bins because of the unspoken rules

'I've never been back because I was mortified.'


Grace Rampaul


Posted on Feb 2, 2024   Updated on Feb 6, 2024, 8:38 am CST

It’s no surprise that since the post-pandemic popularization of thrift shopping, donation-based stores like Goodwill, have raised their prices tremendously.

From the odd vase, to worn shoes, to that one slightly off-putting painting, Goodwill has always been considered home to the young, Gen Z shopper, but now these shoppers have had to take it one step further to receive the discount they once so dearly cherished.

Welcome to the beloved world of Goodwill bin bargaining. 

Yet, much like anything with such a following, there’s always a series of unspoken rules that come with it.

Take it from TikToker Cas Cleo (@cascleo), an upcoming singer-songwriter in Nashville, Tenn. In a video she shared on Jan. 21, which received over 648,000 views, Cas attempted to tackle these Goodwill discount bins, and the young artist says she got judged for her lack of understanding of the process.

“I have never gotten more dirty looks than when I went to the goodwill bins” Cas begins.

Kicking back on her homely couch, Cas sits up and recalls her experience at the Goodwill bins as her frustrations escalate. 

“My friend takes me, and she doesn’t tell me that the goodwill bins have rules and like a whole culture” Cas says.

Described best by Daily Dot writer Tricia Crimmins, these “bins,” are nothing short of endless piles of “unsorted, donated clothing at by-the-pound prices.” So, it’s understandable why Cas may have been expecting a leisurely affair, filled with friends, new clothes, and phenomenal bargains. 

“I’m standing there, ready to go rummage and stuff. It’s gonna be fun.” Cas says. 

Yet, as Goodwill team members slowly rolled out the series of large blue bins, filled to the brim with miscellaneous items, Cas says she unknowingly took it upon herself to step toward them and get a better look.

“I thought once they roll out and stop the bins, it’s fine; you can just go,” Cas says. “So I’m just strolling up; I start rummaging through the bins.”

But was Cas wrong. As she looked around the room, she says she was caught by a seemingly endless sea of dirty looks, scowls, and death stares. 

“The glares. The side eyes.” Cas recalls.

Quickly, she says she realized the brightly-taped lines on the ground were to stop shoppers from doing exactly what she had done. But she had no idea. She says no one ever informed her that there were rules to these morbidly large bins. 

“You’re supposed to stand behind the line while they roll out the bins” Cas realizes. “You have to wait for them to blow a [expletive] whistle, like a sport.” 

Being new to the entire process, Cas says she was humiliated by the entire ordeal and just wished there were rules announced or posted prior to her discount-store escapades. Luckily for Cas, commenters sympathized with her humbling experience, understanding that these situations can be downright scary for people.

“This is why I’m anxious about going literally anywhere.” one commenter said.

@cascleo The suggested audio is taking me out #goodwillbins #storytime ♬ original sound – NOFEELINGS.

This isn’t the first time the Daily Dot has reported on the chaos and dysfunction at the Goodwill bins. Back in November of 2021, TikToker @avenue.eleven posted a video of rats rummaging through their local Goodwill bins. Yet, the dedication of these shoppers was still unmatched as thrifters simply maneuvered around the rat, because the rat “was just trying to shop, too.” 

And while Cas was not faced with any furry friends during her shop, she is still dedicated to never returning because of her humbling experience.

“This keeps me up at night, [and] this was like years ago” she says.

The Daily Dot has reached out to Goodwill via contact page and Cas Cleo via TikTok comment.

Update 8:38am CT, Feb. 6, 2024: In an update emailed to the Daily Dot, a representative of Goodwill Industries in Middle Tennessee provided a little more insight into the process of shopping the outlet bins.

“Items sold in our outlet locations are sold at a rate of $1.59 per pound. While we have received positive feedback from shoppers regarding our outlets, we understand it provides a unique, treasure-hunting experience that is different from our retail stores, and that experience is not for everyone.” The rep said.

“Goodwill asks shoppers to wait behind a marked line as employees bring out fresh merchandise to the shopping floor and put that merchandise on tables that must be locked into place. Goodwill employees are trained to monitor the shopping area in order to be sure shoppers are being respectful to others.” The rep said.

The Goodwill marketing team has also collaborated to curate an explainer video to assure that all shoppers are vetted in the process bin shopping.

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*First Published: Feb 2, 2024, 2:00 am CST