College is notorious for draining students of their money and leaving them with nothing to eat but Ramen noodles. Tuition, housing, and textbooks are just some of the expenses college students face. However, students at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville do not have to sacrifice comfort or style just because they do not have a lot of money to spend.
There are 29 Goodwills within the Knoxville area, and the three best-stocked locations are located just five miles from UTK’s campus. This gives students easy access to almost anything they might need, from clothes and books to furniture and dishes. This article breaks down the unique aspects and benefits of these three stores to help guide students in their thrifting endeavors and save them money.
The three best-stocked Goodwills near UTK’s campus are the Bearden location, the Pleasant Ridge location, and the Cumberland Estates location.
To some, buying anything secondhand may seem odd, or even unpleasant. However, many Knoxville students completely embrace the idea of thrifty living.
Kim Mizell, a senior history major at UTK, has shopped at Goodwill for several years with great success. “I shop at Goodwill because I like to shop for clothes. However, I just don’t have the budget to shop at really nice stores. If twenty dollars will only buy one shirt at a nice store, OR I can go to Goodwill and get four shirts in possibly the same brand for the same price, then I am going to chose Goodwill!”
Sara Griffis, a recent graduate of UTK, agrees. “I shop at Goodwill because it’s fun to hunt for deals on…items that I couldn’t afford at retail price. It’s like a game.”
As Mizell stated, it is often very simple to find expensive brands at Goodwill. Mizell often finds pieces from brands such as J.Crew, Old Navy, and Banana Republic for a fraction of the price they would have been brand new. Goodwill allows students (and anyone else on a budget) to get quality items for affordable prices.
Aside from saving money, shopping at Goodwill also supports a good cause. Amanda Duggin, a Knoxville resident, says she not only shops at Goodwill but makes sure she donates regularly. “I donate to Goodwill about once a year when I clean out my closets and look for ways to declutter,” she stated. “I love that Goodwill provides job opportunities to people who may not have a good option otherwise. It also gives people the opportunity to buy nice clothes for jobs and interviews who otherwise might not have been able to afford it.”
Saving money and providing jobs are two reasons why many college students have fully embraced the Goodwill lifestyle. For those interested in joining this lifestyle, the remainder of this article outlines where, when, and how to thrift at three Knoxville Goodwills.
Choosing a Store
As stated previously, there are 29 Goodwill locations in the Knoxville area alone. This can often overwhelm beginning thrifters.
Of these 29 stores, there are three located five miles from UTK’s campus that are particularly well-stocked: the Bearden location, the Pleasant Ridge location, and the Cumberland estates location. However, even narrowing the list down to three can still cause some beginners hesitate.
It is helpful to determine beforehand what kind of items you are looking for, such as furniture, clothing, or housewares. This can narrow down which Knoxville Goodwill you should go to in order to find what you are looking for. The following flowchart shows which Goodwill location shoppers should go to depending on the items they are looking to buy.
Because each Goodwill devotes different amounts of space to different types of items, each store tends to have a better selection for different things.
The Kingston Pike Location (Bearden)
The Bearden Goodwill, located at 5307 Kingston Pike, is 4.4 miles west of campus. This Goodwill is the best-stocked and most organized location within five miles of campus.
Their clothing section is organized into several categories: men’s, women’s, children’s, and plus/maternity. Clothes are then sorted into types (long sleeve, short sleeve, pants, etc.) and color. It is very easy to find brand names like J. Crew, LOFT, or Eddie Bauer at this Goodwill. Bearden is a fairly affluent community, so many of the donations to this store are higher quality.
The Bearden Goodwill devotes a lot of their salesfloor space to furniture. Because they have so much space, it is common to find furniture of all types at this store, including couches, tables, shelves, and chairs.
Media is another item that takes up a lot of salesfloor space. Shelves containing books, CDs, vinyls, and board games can be found throughout the store.
This location is a favorite among UT students. According to Mizell: “My favorite goodwill in Knoxville is the one in Bearden because they always have a good and quirky items!”
Griffis also prefers the Bearden location. “The one in Bearden is the best because there is a variety of items in a [wide array of tastes]. They have stuff that pertains to young adults but also to professionals and older adults.”
The Cumberland Estates Location (Western Ave.)
The Western Avenue Goodwill, located at 5705 Western Ave., is 5 miles from UT’s campus. This location, while small, often has some of the most unique and interesting items.
Even though this store is located in a less populated neighborhood, interesting items can still be found here.
Glassware and homegoods are one of the best-stocked items in this location. Most of the shelves house cups and plates. Vintage Pyrex, antique china, and other desirable pieces are common at this location. There is also an abundance of unique art displayed on one of the walls. This is notable because at most Goodwills, art and framed prints are stacked on shelves, making it difficult to shop,
Despite the small salesfloor, this location often has a good furniture selection. For example, the piano in the photo above was one of three items of furniture on the entire salesfloor at the time this picture was taken. Because there is so little room, furniture is generally priced low so it sells quickly and can make room for other pieces.
The Pleasant Ridge Location
The Pleasant Ridge Goodwill, located at 5412 Pleasant Ridge Road, is located 5 miles from campus. This location not only accepts donations, but also offers a recycling center for various types of recyclables.
Books are one of the best-stocked items at this location. The shelves are often double-stacked and are even lined up in piles on the floor when the shelves are too full.
Accessories are another item this location devotes a lot of space to. Scarves, hats, gloves, purses, and men’s ties are all well-displayed and easy to look through. This location also has the largest shoe selection of the three Goodwills.
7 Tips for Better Thrifting
Knowing the best places to shop is one step toward becoming an experienced thrifter. But location is not the only important factor in saving money. Here are seven other tips and techniques to use while you shop.
1) Look through everything carefully. Knowing how clothes are sorted can help you find more things. All three of the Goodwills discussed in this article only sort their clothes by color. However, if you live near a Goodwill that sorts by size and then color, look in every size. Things get misplaced, sizes are not always the same from brand to brand, and vintage sizing is much different that today’s sizing (for example, a modern size two can sometimes be a six or eight in vintage sizes, according to eBay seller and Vintage clothing expert frocksandfrillsvintage). Also, look in the men’s and children’s sections. You never know where you will find something amazing.
2) Know the sales for each store. The three Goodwills discussed in this article all offer a 25% discount to seniors on Mondays. The Bearden location offers a 10% discount to shoppers who “check in” on Facebook and show the cashier at checkout. All Knoxville Goodwills have a color of the week, where each week a different color tag is 50% off. Goodwill of Knoville continually updates their website when new sales and deals arise.
In general, it is always beneficial to ask an employee what kind of discounts they offer and on what day those discounts are applicable. You never know what you might be missing!
3) Set yourself a budget. Even though Goodwill’s prices are always very low, it is smart to set a budget. With prices so low, overspending can be very easy. Be sure you do not buy something you do not want or need just because it was so inexpensive.
4) Know when to walk away. A dress may be cute, but if it does not fit properly, you might not wear it. Unless you can sew, it is smart to avoid buying things that do not fit. Ask yourself these questions: Is it stained? Is it chipped? Does it have a hole? If you answered yes to any of those questions, it is probably best to put the item down and walk away.
5) Frequency is key. Going often means you have more chances to find cool things. According to Goodwill employees, the three locations in this article restock daily; other Goodwills have certain days they restock. Ask an employee what days they put new stuff out so you can know what days are best for shopping.
6) Have an open mind. While shopping, try to look for things that may need a makeover. Spray paint can be an easy fix for many items. For example, a great piece of art in an ugly frame is just two coats of spray paint away from being perfect. With clothes, try to think about how you could wear the item you are considering and how you could alter it to make it more fashionable. Raising hemlines or removing shoulder pads are two easy fixes that can be done with little to no sewing skills. Sometimes the most unassuming things turn out to be the best!
7) Donate. Not only is this good for your own sanity, but it greatly benefits Goodwills as well. Bringing in a few items to donate with each trip is an easy way to keep your home and closet from becoming too cluttered. You are also supporting a great cause and continuing the thrift cycle. Without donations, you would never be able to find amazing things at incredible prices.
Following these seven tips can help nearly anyone become an avid Goodwill shopper.
According to their website, Goodwill of Knoxville’s mission is “to provide vocational services and employment opportunities for individuals with barriers to employment.” This mission can only be accomplished if Knoxville residents carry on the cycle of shopping and donating. Students at the University of Tennessee are in the perfect position to do both, all while saving themselves money. With an open mind, students can help themselves, their community, and their environment by taking part in the thrift cycle.