Goodwill Hunting

Dear Reader,

After I graduated from my Master’s program, I stayed in Boston working my 10-hr a week gig at the university library while I looked for “real” jobs. For me, this was a period of great uncertainty. I applied for positions all over and I was not even certain that I would end up staying in Boston. However, even in this stressful period, life must go on. So, I found ways to entertain myself. During this time I started to listen to more and more audiobooks. While there are some paid services out there like Audible, most public libraries have a great e-book (and e-audiobook) collection. Through the library I began to listen to around 1-2 books every week. Doing nothing other than apply for jobs and continuing at the library for only 10 hours a week, I indeed had too much free time on my hands. Also, during this period I began to walk instead of taking public transport. This helped me both to save money as well as to get some exercise without paying for a gym membership. While I would recommend walking to almost anyone, I admit that I was a bit excessive, walking over ten miles a day some days regardless of the weather. 

I donated this one 🙂 Goodwill, Somerville, MA

And, finally, during this time, I developed a thrift shop hobby. Anytime that I would want to buy something (mostly just clothing), I would first see if I could find it at a second-hand shop. This little rule for myself turned out to be quite fun as I found myself in a variety of different stores around Boston. One very popular location, the Garment District, has an event every weekend in which a large swath of the floor is piled with “new” secondhand items. Patrons can come in with their bags and collect clothing, purchasing the lot by the pound. This actually became something that I used to look forward to. Sometimes, on Saturday mornings I would wake up early, trek down to the Garment District and then get down on my hands and knees to wade through clothing until I found something special.

Davis T station, summer 2019

I actually do not shop as much as I used to, but today, I decided to take a break from the office and walk over to the Goodwill in Somerville by Davis Square. This is a two-story Goodwill with women’s apparel dominating the first floor and a variety of homegoods and men’s apparel tucked away in the basement. I kid you not, I spent almost 2 hours in Goodwill today, but I surprisingly didn’t purchase anything. While I am prone to impulse buys, deep down I’m more of a browser than a buyer. 

Goodwill, Somerville, summer 2019

While I usually come to Goodwill on a mission and only go to a few specific shelves. Today, floated around the first floor and then I spent the bulk of my time in the basement. Just the book collection at this Goodwill alone is something to take note of. While the items are all mixed together on shelves, I saw a number of familiar titles including “Gone Girl,” “The Girl on the Train,” “East of Eden,” “Catcher in the Rye,” the Twilight books, and many others. I was so tempted to buy a couple of books, but as I already have a few titles lined up on my shelf, I decided that I would come back another time when the need was more urgent. 

Whether you like secondhand shopping or not, it can be a very interesting experience if you come in with an open mind. Where else would you see prom dresses, saris, and cocktail attire all hanging on the same rack for just $14.99 each? Believe it or not, I even found a dress I myself had donated almost a year ago! Sometimes, Dear Reader, it’s when we stop searching that we begin to see more and more.



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